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San Sebastián de las Grutas
This area is comprised of a system of caverns made up of various branches. To date, only one of these caverns has been explored, and it is the only one which is accessible to visitors. This cavern is a branch which is approximately 400 metres long, with an entrance and exit at either end. It has 5 chambers with heights ranging between 20 and 70 metres.
In the interior of the cave, lime formations are found which resemble a fine Baroque structure. Of particular note is one impressively tall column, and two stalagmites that are 15.5 and 7.5 metres in height with diameters of 3.9 and 7.9 metres respectively. In addition, an innumerable quantity of stalactites and stalagmites of different sizes may be observed, all of which have different whimsical shapes. The genius and imagination of the area’s inhabitants have led the formations to be ‘baptised’ with different allusive names, such as: "the lovers", "the bell" (because of the sound that is produced when it is tapped), "the lizard", "the monk", "the fossil of the rhinoceros", "the cave of the crown", "the tub", and "the lobby". In addition to these formations are two impressive aragonite stones, which look like cascades of foam because of their white colour, and as a result of the sparkles when they are artificially illuminated.
In the centre of the cavern, the sound of a subterranean river, which runs approximately 30 metres below the surface, may be heard. This is the same river which flows to the surface at the foot of the hill in which the caverns are located. Guide service for the cavern is available. Visitors will be provided with torches which are required to light the route through the cavern. The exit is towards the top of the cave, something which may present a great deal of difficulty for older visitors. Upon leaving the cavern, the trip back to town runs along a very pleasant countryside lane.
Close to the spring which forms the San Sebastián River, visitors will discover a small field that is approximately 2,000 square metres, in which they may engage in sports as well as other recreational activities. This area includes a grassy field, a crystalline spring which gushes from within a rocky formation, and a stand of trees which reach to heights of more than 60 metres.
Taken together, the setting makes for a very pleasant scene. At one end of this area are located several palm thatched stands (palapas) where food may be eaten.
In front, across a dry creek, a tourist inn may be found which has cabins, a dining room, a small kitchen, private bathrooms and parking.
On the way to the caverns, from the town of Vado up to the cavern access point, the road runs parallel to the San Sebastián River, which in turn is bordered by trees of many different sizes. Along the way it is possible to take rest stops and bathe or swim in the pools.
• San Sebastián de las Grutas: Is located 52 miles (84 kilometres) Southwest of the City of Oaxaca via highway 175 to Puerto Angel. When you reach San Bartolo Coyotepec, turn right on the highway 131 (to Sola de Vega) detour. Continue until you reach the Vado town. Turn right and continue another 7.5 miles (12 kilometres) on a dirt road.
Approximate travel time: [1:40]