The baby is still growing – Cave exploration in Mexico

by Alvaro Roldan

Many of you know how Caterpillar Cave System was found and how it looks today. (You can check out the QDT web site for more info). The entrance, a stone quarry is getting greener because of all the algae but, as soon as you get into the cave area all that disappears and very nice formations and rooms are appearing one after another until the upstream section getting into the Ho Lee Shit tunnel. You can imagine re-reading the name how the tunnel is! It is just big and it also has a peculiarity, the tunnel was once full of salt water however, now there is no longer salt in the water. This means that the level of the sea water has changed. In some other places you might rightly think that it is the level of the ground that has changed. However, this is not the case with this relatively new layer of limestone we are talking about now. The tunnel goes down to almost 80ft and is just an amazing, huge tunnel.

On January of this year I had the luck to find a Mayan man named “Xulo”, it was after a dive in Caterpillar and the guy was so happy that we were diving there he wanted to show us another cenote close to the area. This new cenote was a small collapse in the jungle that opens into a little dry chamber then, going a little deeper into the dry part, it leads to the water. Once again, a little hole in the cave floor with not much room for getting ready for the dive, there was a line coming out of the cave, so obviously someone was there before.
I went diving for first time at the end of January with Henrick Farbo from Sweden and we found that the line in the cave was pretty short with no markers or anything making the owner of that line identifiable. So one month after, at the end of the high season I decided to go back and have another look. My surprise was that after changing the end of the original line I got through a restriction and I found a huge, super decorated room. It was black, black, black at the end. So, slowly looking for animal or human remains I start knotting the line from stalagmite to stalagmite. It was such a nice feeling because it is not so usual to find big tunnels here in Mexico at this time; I am more used to it being 2cm from ceiling and floor. So that was my day, to keep going as far as possible into those huge tunnels.

My surprise was that the cave gets to a point where you have to decide between shallower or deeper. First, I took the deeper part and there was an amazing tunnel like the Ho lee shit tunnel in Caterpillar but smaller, running down to 90ft and ending in a vertical crack almost 1800ft from the entrance.
I explored for one week the lateral passages of the main tunnel and in one of them I left the exploration because it was so small and silty that I couldn’t find my way to continue. Next day I went back for a second look and my surprise was that going down in a vertical crack and 2m far from last day station the cave turns right and there is a restriction and at the other side it was another line! I recognised the name on the station marker and I went back to check the data in the computer and verify that this was the end of the line of Caterpillar system. So a new 5000ft of line has been added to Caterpillar and a new section of the cave is growing, the Xulo section of the Caterpillar system.
However, there was a little inconvenience. The restriction has a huge stalactite in the middle, for me the cave is connected, a diver cannot go through but I can shake someone’s hand through it. I haven’t find a reason to break it so far and there is much more cave to explore around and maybe another, better point to do the connection, it will happen. Any way the water from Caterpillar flows into Xulo, so one they are!!
Now the exploration is at a point where there are many more leads to check and the most exciting of it is that the cave is pretty close to Cenote Doggi. So in the future it can be all one huge cave system with Cenote Doggi and Cenote Style as main section and the earliest explored, Caterpillar and Cenote Bobcat as the second and the Xulo section in the middle, but for sure there will be even more than that.
This is what I consider a great triumph of a combination of explores from the Quiet Diver Team, the Dominican Republic Speleological Society and the support of Protec Advanced Training Facility, and many friends that come and join to have a good day in the Mexican jungle.
Caterpillar system and Doggy system are located in the Riviera Maya close to Muyil village and is a really interesting area due to the caves being quite different geologically speaking, from the ones closer to Tulum and in between Playa del Carmen and Tulum. So we will keep doing our best to make this area another cave diving paradise.
If you need some info about the dives in this pretty new area feel free to contact the people from QDT or step by Protec and we will facilitate that info, also if go into ARIANE programme in the share section you will get a lot of info about the lines in these caves and some others.
This week, again, jungle, jungle and more jungle, exploring and more exploring and enjoying a BBQ after diving with the locals and with the cave diving exploration team … what a bad life!!!



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