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One of the craziest excursions I ever went on was the Nivida Cave Tour on Bastimentos Island in Bocas del Toro.
Had I not looked at TripAdvisor reviews – or reviews from people in commentaries – I would not have known that I would be hiking in water up to my chest and getting my shoes all muddy!
Was it a thrilling experience? Oh yea.
The tour is described as saying that “Everyone can do it” – I don’t believe that to be true and witnessed first hand that people volunteered to be left behind because it was too extreme.
Read this before you decide on doing the Caving Tour to Nivida. This will get your expectations ready and prepared for what the tour really is.
Wear clothes you don’t care about getting wet. A swimsuit underneath is also advised if you want to go swimming in the deep end.
Bring bug repellent as there are mosquitoes on the hike to the cave.
Get ready to get dirty.
Getting to the Cave
*Note: It is very dark therefore photos do not come out great inside the cave. I tried my best with the GoPro and really did not get too many visible shots.
First, you will take a boat ride to Bastimentos Island from Bocas Town which is about a one hour ride. Half way through the ride, the boat will go slow through a mangrove forest which is a whole experience in itself.
Be on the lookout for red frogs as they are common to find. Be careful – they are poisonous!
Once the boat is docked, you will take about a 30-minute easy hike to the actual cave. This is where your shoes will get dirty and most likely muddy. It rains a lot in Bocas and even if it did not rain recently, the grounds may not have dried up under the forest.
The second you enter the cave, you will be entering water. It was knee high for me and that is what you walk through.
It is not slipper for the most part, although there are slippery areas so use caution and do not rush. You will have headlights provided so you can see where you are going. The bats at the top of the cave will always be flying and are cool to look at. Make sure you stop to do that because it’s so easy to keep looking forward and forget about looking around you.
At many points, you will need to climb rocks or climb around them. I enjoyed going last so I can witness how everyone did it and where they stepped. The group I went with was very helpful. There even was a family although they had to pass their children from one person to the other at points. The climbing is where we lost some members of the tour because they physically could not do it.
Now, you don’t have to be in excellent shape to do the climbing but you need to be able to stretch and use strength to get over those high areas.
There are two tunnels at the end of the cave – one with shallow water and one that is deeper which leads to a natural pool at the end.
My tour guide took us both routes.
At the deeper end, you will have water that is almost up to your neck. I am 5’5 and that’s how high it reached me.
I did not jump into the pool at the end as one had to climb a steep rock. From my tour, maybe five men did it and the ladies watched. It was tight and you are almost touching the top of the cave before you jump, therefore you need to really let yourself fall down in a sense.
I felt accomplished once we got out of the cave. The time, energy, and physical strength it took surprised me. It felt like a great workout at the same time!
I recommend this tour if you love something new, thrilling, and don’t mind getting dirty. Most prices for the entire tour are around $45 which I think is very fair!
Location: Bastimentos Island, Panama
Have you toured Nivida?