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Located in the Sierra de Quemado, in the middle of the Viñales Valley, a gigantic stone labyrinth seduces domestic and foreign visitors: with more than 46 kilometers of galleries, the Great Cavern of Santo Tomás combines history and legend, chaos and balance, light and penumbra, to achieve an almost perfect harmony.

Considered to be the most important cave system in the country and the largest in Central and South America, the site owes its name to the Santo Tomas River, whose tributaries eroded the rock to give way to an intricate network of eight-level galleries that communicate more than 50 caves through open passages in the walls of the mogotes.

Among the most famous caves are “Scarlet”, recognized by the exotic beauty of its reddish crystalline formations; “Unbelievable”, from whose roof hung hundreds of pointed stalactites; and “Mesa”, which shelters a large mural of enigmatic petroglyphs, drawn by the first inhabitants of the area.

Also outstanding are the so-called “mountain holes”, caves cut by collapses of ceilings, in which inside grows an exuberant vegetation.

In 1984, the National School of Speleology was established in Santo Tomas, which a decade later would have international reach, contributing to the formation of thousands of explorers from Cuba and the world.

Lovers of nature will find in this site a profusion of prehistoric fossils and exclusive species of Cuban flora and fauna. Likewise, the traces of the Indian and the Cimarron endow the cavern with a rich cultural heritage.

The extraordinary formations of stalactites, helictites and stalagmites, and strange rocky accidents, combine to give way to an attractive landscape, ideal for intrepid visitors who are carried away by their instincts, the best way to know the Cave.

by: Victor Manuel Blanco