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Ultimate adventure: going vertical in the cave of Abismo Anhumas

This is the most unique adventure tour I have ever done! And I have done a few… So yes, it’s quite a claim which I’m happy to make. Abismo Anhumas is actually 5 adventures in 1. This is what makes it one of kind.

About 25 km North-East from Bonito there is a cave, called Abismo Anhumas. Bonito-Brazil-adventure-tour - 10In ’84 this cave has been discovered and in ’99 it has been made accessible for travellers. It has been developed into a safe, responsible, multi-adventure tourist attraction. The cave is 72 deep and the only way to get in (safely) is by rope. Yup, this is also the only way out! Nature took millions of year to form this and I have been lucky to experience every corner of this natural phenomenon.

The vertical experience is supervised by well-trained local boys and girls. They are doing a fantastic job instructing the abseil and rappel techniques, making sure your save and secure. With an occasional joke to keep you chilled out while you’re hanging on a line 72m. above the ‘ground’. The staff is fantastic.

I did this tour as part of the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference to see Bonito’s responsible tourism practices live in the field. I got to choose one tour in Bonito, which was like choosing between platinum and gold. I’m thrilled I got listed for the adventure tour of Abismo Anhumas. This experience can’t be beaten. The other dare devils in my group: a father and son from Ontario (Rick & Connor), a girl from Poland (Izabella), and two Brazilians from Sao Paulo (Mauro & Jaoa), all working in the field of sustainable tourism.

Abismo Anhumas: 5 adventures in 1, let’s start the fun!

Adventure 1/5: Rappel training

The night before the adventure day everyone needs to show up at the ‘office’ to get familiar with the equipment and procedure of the Abismo Anhumas adventure. I and 17 other lucky persons  have to practice the rappelling, showing that we’re capable of going up and down the rope. On the tour day we will leave in two different groups so there won’t be long waiting times in an at the cave. After the training it’s time to sign off your risk and to fit the wetsuit.

Bonito-Brazil-adventure-tour - 09

Adventure 2/5: Abseil down 72 meters

After a bumpy but beautiful ride through Mato Grossa do Sul,  we arrive in the woods. The only thing I see is a hole of about 2m x 0.50 m. We get lifted into our harnesses and in pairs we make the 72 meter drop. The hardest part is to give trust in the material. With the professionalism these guys are taking care of us, I’m happy to do so. I pull the break and descend down into the cave. The daylight is exchanged for a natural phenomenon that is hard to describe.  It feels like I’m entering the most sacred place is world.  The size of this cave is immense. Just enough daylight can enter the cave to be able to see the impressive lime formations. If you want you can get down in a minute. You want to take it easy here though cause this is the best view you may ever get in your life. Tip: the one on the right has the best views!  At the end of the descent, I arrive at a floating platform where the next adventures are waiting. I have entered into the earth. It feels magical.

Adventure 3/5: Snorkel | free-dive | dive – in the cave lake

Snorkelling, free-diving, diving. Whichever discipline you prefer, don’t skip the opportunity to go below the surface. Swimming in a cave, when does that happen? Never! Except for one Canadian daredevil who goes in shorts we all squeeze ourselves into a 5 mil wetsuit to explore the waters of Abismo Anhumas. The water is about 20 degrees. Due to the high limestone substance, the water is as clear as it can get.  There are two species of fish. One big one living deep at the bottom, which I haven’t seen. Then there is small fish swimming close to the surface that nipple your skin. So how did they get in here? The only explanation that they have is that a bird ate fish eggs and laid or dropped her eggs in the cave. We make a round manoeuvring through stalagmites. It’s easy and you can see everything. It’s so clear. Above us are the  stalactites. I really don’t know where to look. It’s so amazing!  I get to make a few deep dives allowing me to see the cave from a different point of view. If the water was a bit more tropical I would still be swimming around.

Adventure 4/5: Guided raft tour through the cave

In a rubber raft we’re off for a paddle around the cave. Luckily Brazilians Mauro and João can translate the interesting facts our guide is able to share about the cave. There are many corners to explore and every corner has something interesting. Both above and below the surface the sight of stalagmites and stalactites are incredibly impressive.

We learn that the water is so clear due to the high amount of limestone. They come in many different shapes and formations, some looking like people or animals. The coolest rock has the shape of Homer Simpson. Although we’re all different cultures together, everyone seems to know this one. It’s funny how the Simpsons have become an universal language. The highest stalagmite is 27 meters. 1 cm of limestone takes 10.000 years to be formed. Do the math. It’s utterly important that extreme care has to be taken with all activity undertaken here. This is also carefully being monitored.  The cave is going through a long term environmental monitoring program which evaluates and provides all the scientific support to ensure that the tourism activity doesn’t do harm to the environment. There has been more life in the cave. In one corner we see the bones of an animal. What is was and how it got here is the question. The cave is about the size of a soccer field.

Part 5:  Rappling out of the cave

So at the end of this adventure day the biggest adventure started: going out of the cave!

How? We go up by using rappel techniques, which we luckily practised the day before. In pairs we go up again, attached to each other, each having their own rope. The technique is fairly easy. You make yourself small, then push yourself up with your hand an feet. It’s a bit like a frog jump.  The higher we get the smaller it gets. The helmet has been a life saver here. In about 20 minutes Izabella and I make it to the cave exit. It was not as hard as it seems. And it definitely tastes for more adventures likes these! So if you have any other rappel suggestions in the world, I’d love to hear about it. It’s worth travelling long distances for. Just before dark we all making it out of the cave, feeling accomplished!

Take-Aways from the Abismo Anhumas adventure:

  • This trip is a must for every adventurer visiting Bonito. You have to book this trip as much in advance as possible. There is a maximum of 18 persons per day and it is usually booked out so be on the case! The limit of scuba divers per day is 4.
  • The tour is pricey but it’s worth it! It’s pricey because of all the safety measures that are taken.  There is 1 supervisor on every 3 visitors. The money goes to the right person. No need to compare prices. In Bonito all tours have fixed prices, with every agency.
  • This trip is a must for every adventurer visiting Bonito. You have to book this trip as much in advance as possible. There is a maximum of 18 persons per day and it is usually booked out so be on the case! The limit of scuba divers per day is 4.
  • The tour is pricey but it’s worth it! It’s pricey because of all the safety measures that are taken.  There is 1 supervisor on every 3 visitors. The money goes to the right person. No need to compare prices. In Bonito all tours have fixed prices, with every agency.
  • What to wear? Long pants (no jeans), socks, hiking shoes, shirt with sleeves (short or long) and no sunscreen or mosquito repellent (no contamination)
  • What to bring?
    • Loads of water and food, fruits, chocolate. The guys of Abismo Anhumas will bring this down and up
    • A sweater. After the swimming it’s quite cold.
    • A wetsuit, which you can rent in town.
    • A GoPro if you have one! You can only wear it on your helmet.
  • Go snorkeling or diving for sure! You don’t want to miss this opportunity.
  • What is the best time to do this? Between November – January the sun is in line with the opening of the cave. Apparently, this is a different thing to experience. Without having this it was already an incredible adventure so if you’re there around those months years, go for it!
  • Don’t go to wild at the Taboa (local bar) the night before. You don’t want to be hangover this day!
  • You cannot use your camera while rappelling down. They’ll be brought down with the rope so you can take pictures in the cave.
  • The official website of Abismo Anhumas
  • Find more Bonito related tours
  • Go for it!

Do you know any other caving adventures that should be put on the bucketlist?






Ocean Nomad, Adventurer & Change-Maker
Hi! My name is Suzanne. I'm here to help you go on ocean adventures and make positive impact for a healthier ocean. Explore this website to learn what I do and how you can make some splashes too!
Help to make impact. Here's how you can support Ocean Awareness & Action -> Go to https://theoceanpreneur.com/about/support/
6 replies
  1. united21kanha
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