Grutas de Cacahuamilpa is the largest cave system in Mexico and one of the largest cave systems in the world. Formations inside the cave are still growing, which means that the cave is ”alive”. The cave system is truly an impressive natural site, so don’t miss including it in your Mexico travel itinerary.
Visiting Grutas de Cacahuamilpa is one of the best things to do in and around Taxco and in this article, I’m sharing everything you need to know to plan a trip to this beautiful natural site, including entry fees and openings hours, tour expectations, how to get there by local bus, and more.
About Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park is best known for the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa Caverns (caves), which are, as already mentioned at the beginning, one of the largest cave systems in the whole world. The National Park is also home to the Grutas of Carlos Pacheco, a smaller cave system, two underground rivers, a botanical garden, a swimming pool area, and a camping area.
The park extends over 2,700 hectares of land and through 4 municipalities – Taxco, Tetipac, and Pilcaya in the Guerrero state, and Coatlan del Rio in the Morelos state. Inside the caves, there are 90 large salons separated by large natural rock walls and connected to one another via a central gallery. Only 20 of these salons are fully explored and open to the public.
Many animals and plants also call Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park their home. The fauna is represented by green iguanas, rattlesnakes, lynxes, ocelots, raccoons, rabbits, eagles, and even cougars, whereas the flora is represented by wild orchids, Copal, Pachote, Ceiba trees, and more.
The Grutas de Cacahuamilpa are believed to be discovered by Don Manuel Sáenz de la Peña a shopkeeper who hid in them while being pursued by the Mexican authorities in 1834. Then in 1866, Dominik Bilimek and Maximiliano von Habsburg made the first biospeleological visit to the caves, while the first scientific expedition to the caves was organized by the Secretary of the French Legation in 1935. Grutas de Cacahuamilpa was established as a national park in 1936 by the President at the time, Lazaro Cardenas.
After Grutas de Cacahuamilpa opened for visitors, careless tourists damaged the glittering walls of the caves, which lost their sheen due to the natural oils on the hands of those who touched them. Now, the caves are a preserved area and are currently being protected by Mexico’s National Government. That is why all visits to the caves are exclusively conducted with a guide and tourists are being asked not to interact with animals and plants.
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park is visited by about 350,000 tourists annually, generating an income of about 8 million pesos.
Where is Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park located?
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park is located in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains, in the northeast part of Guerrero state. It is approximately 156km southwest of Mexico City and just 25km away from the silversmithing town of Taxco.
How to get to Grutas de Cacahuamilpa from Taxco?
Getting from Taxco to Grutas de Cacahuamilpa is super easy. There are regular buses from Taxco’s Terminal de Autobuses Flecha Roja. The bus continues to the town of Ixtapan and you have to get off at the junction of routes 55 (Ixtapan and Toluca) and 166 (Cuernavaca and Mexico City). From the junction is a short 5-minute walk to the entrance of Grutas de Cacahuamilpa.
To get to the entrance, after you get off of the bus, you need to take the 166 road. After a couple of minutes, you’ll see the sign for Grutas de Cacahuamilpa.
When you’re buying your bus ticket at the bus station in Taxco, you can ask when you can take a bus back from Grutas de Cacahuamilpa to Taxco. You’ll have to wait at the same junction to get the bus back, but note that you might have to wait longer than expected.
Alternatively, you can hitchhike or get a taxi. If you’re a group of 4 people, for example, taking a taxi might be a better and most convenient option for you. The taxi ride will cost you around 200-250 MXN, whereas the bus ticket from Taxco to Grutas de Cacahuamilpa is 44 MXN. The bus ride takes between 30 and 40 minutes.
Visiting Grutas de Cacahuamilpa near Taxco
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa opening hours: The caves are open daily, except holidays, with the first tours departing at 9 AM and the last at 5 PM.
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa tickets: 100 MXN, including a guided tour
The tour of Grutas de Cacahuamilpa starts from the Visitor Center and descends along a paved path towards the Mouth of Cacahuamilpa. On the way, you’ll pass the zipline and the botanical garden. When you arrive at the Mouth of Cacahuamilpa (the cave’s entry), you’ll be impressed by the size of it – you can not really tell by the photo, but it is really huge.
From here, you’re gonna enter the cave into the first salon, which is also the smallest one. The guide will start by giving the group some basic information about Grutas de Cacahuamilpa and as the tour continues he will occasionally stop and illuminate with his flashlight some of the cave’s most interesting formations and tell some jokes in Spanish. Most people find this very funny for the first several formations, but the tour is slow and repetitive, so everyone’s easily getting bored. You won’t get bored by the stalactites and stalagmites tho; they are in so many different forms and different in sizes, you’ll gasp at every new sight.
As you continue to explore the cave, you’ll end up at the Auditorium, which is one of the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa’s most unique salons. It is unique because this salon is used throughout the year for concerts of all types, but most commonly symphonic orchestras performances.
The tour also passes through the largest cave salon, which is about 80 meters tall, and an hour and a half, two hours later you’ll reach the final salon. Here, you’re gonna say goodbye to your guide and be left alone for the walk back. No one’s rushing you out of the cave, so this is the point at which you can really take your time and go at your own pace.
Getting back is very easy and straightforward, so don’t worry about getting lost inside the cave. If you decide that you don’t want to see more of the cave, the walk back to the surface will take you around 20-30 minutes.
Things to know before visiting Grutas de Cacahuamilpa
1. The caves can only be visited via organized two-hour walking tours that depart from the visitor center and are included in the entry fee.
2. Tours are in Spanish, although English-speaking guides can be booked in advance at a higher cost.
3. The walkway in Grutas de Cacahuamilpa is 4 km long (round-trip), mostly flat with some stairs.
4. It is slippery inside the cave, so make sure you’re wearing appropriate shoes; flip-flops are a no-no.
5. Optional activities in Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, at an additional price, include rafting, horse riding, rappelling, and zip-lining.
6. Make sure to bring a bug repellent. No insects will bite you inside the cave, but I was attacked by some while waiting for the bus back to Taxco. I’ve got bitten a lot, I’ve had perhaps 50 bites on each leg. It was awful and the bites didn’t disappear for more than a week.
And there you have it, everything you need to know about planning a visit to Grutas de Cacahuamilpa near Taxco on your own. Other stunning and worth visiting natural destinations in Mexico include the Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary near the town of Valle de Bravo,the thermal water park of Grutas Tolantongo and the unspoilt Pacific paradise of Boca del Cielo in Chiapas. If you have any additional questions, let me know in the comments, and don’t hesitate to contact me.