Island Hikers

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Cumaca Cave

Scheduled Date: Tuesday 4th October, 2016

 

The 26th President of the U.S was at heart a naturalist going on several expeditions and on his last trip to South America in 1911 came to Trinidad. “I made an interesting trip with three friends into the northern mountains of Trinidad to see a guacharo cave,” President Theodore Roosevelt wrote in one of his many books. He also noted the lush vegetation with abundant wildlife and birds. He would take 4 hours on horseback thru the forests of Cumaca to reach his destination. There’s even a picture of him in front the “guacharo” cave. Now guacharo is the Amerindian name for oilbird. The Amerindians would render them down for their valuable odorless oil for cooking and lighting lamps . This high pitched screaming nocturnal bird eats a lot of palms and navigate like bats by echolocation, hence all the din when you enter their habitat caves. Our expediton today led to this cave deep in the heart of the Cumaca/ Plantanal Forest on the Southern foothills of our Northern Range. It’s a place of wondrous beauty and lush vegetation. What is amazing of this cave is at the 3rd cavern, 200 metres inside, is a dead-end where the water bubbles from beneath, much like an aquifer. It is the source of the North Oropoche River. On the 22nd March 1964, 2 young divers tried to locate the beginning of this source but would pay a heavy price with their lives. The body of Victor Abraham was recovered the next day. by divers. In later years a human tibia bone was discovered in the river, presumably that of Adam Richards.In the cave are classic carbonated limestone formations and even some blue fungi on the walls. In the water there were adapted catfish. Out of the cave began the 3 mile down river trek. Along the way the river is joined by the Rio Grande tributary. There at the junction was the unmistakable scent of Hydrogen Sulfide. Sulfur Springs in Trinidad, WOW. Need to be investigated because as far as I know sulfur springs are geothermal features. This was confirmed by feeling the temperature change of the bubbling water from one of the rocks. It was warmer than the lower colder river water. Danny can confirm this. As far as I can recollect this water has to be originating from deep within the earth, normally the mantle, where the temperature though while not extremely hot like classic hot springs, it still was enough to be warm. Absolutely stunning. Kairi or Chaleibe what a place we reside in full of hidden surprises.

by Samuel Furlonge

A secluded landscape enclosed by steep ridges is the area known as Cumaca. Placed in the heart of the Northern Range, 4 km east of Valencia on the Valencia/Toco Road. The route to Cumaca is along a bumpy dirt road and will take an hour. Along the way, there is the Turure Bridge, Cumaca Quarry and splendid sceneries of the Central Plains. At the end of the village, there is the distinguished Cumaca RC School with an attendance of 25 students. Cumaca’s population is approximately 150 residents who earn their living mainly from agriculture. In the early 1900’s, the region housed many cocoa estates in an area called Platanal, however with the decline of cocoa many estates abandon. The land reclaimed by nature and all left today are the ruins of the old plantation houses and dilapidated concrete roads.

Apart from its picturesque landscapes, Cumaca’s main attraction is the Guarcharo Cave, which has the largest oilbird colony in the country. The North Oropouche River emerges from the cave, and its source believes to be originating from the eastern foothills of the Aripo Watershed. The cave 200 metres longs divided into three chambers. Living and nesting on its walls are hundreds of oilbirds. The native Amerindians use the oil from the birds to provide fuel for lamps. The presence of unwelcome visitors exploring the cave sends them into a frenzy. In 1911, United States 26th President Theodore Roosevelt visited the cave. The cave housed a variety of nocturnal species such as bats and found in the last chamber are the nocturnal fishes.

The expedition to the cave will take 11/2 hours. The trail starts with short inclines and gradually descends into the valley. In some areas of the path there are concrete crossings over-taken by erosion, and in the middle of the forest, there is a large run-down estate house. To explore inside the cave is optional and some may prefer to remain outside. To visit inside requires the use of a headlamp and possibly getting wet. Shining the light on the birds disturbs their peace and should be avoided. On the return, there is the option to explore the river and visit the Cumaca Sulphur Springs located 1km away from the confluence of the Rio Grande and North Oropouche tributary. On Saturday 8th October 2016 Fitness Walkers explore Cumaca Oilbirds Cave and Sulphur Springs

Assembly: 7.00am Corner of O’meara and Churchill Roosevelt Highway Arima.

Depart at 7.30am

Hiking time: 1-11/2 hours. Mainly short inclines

Rating: 4 moderate

Note exploring inside the cave is optional

Bring along a torchlight and change of clothing.

Cost of the hike $50.00

For more details contact Mario 749-2956, Jamal 761-1889 and Marcia 490-2421

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 email: islandhikers@gmail.com

Contact

Mario Russell
c/o Island Hikers,
#152 Frederick Street,
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago/

Phone: (868) 749-2956,

email :islandhikers @gmail.com

Marcia 490-2421,Michael 719-3368,

Jamal 761-1889,Robin 681-1389,

Camille 620-314, Michelle 726-5195,

,Petronilla 342-1072, Pooran 764-2041

Dennis 678-2768, Adrian 349-9316,

Bob 685-5355, Pedro 346-3460

Ian 682-6177,  Danny 372-7798