Venture into Puerto Rico’s Karst Country

The area south of Arecibo in Puerto Rico, known as Karst Country, consists of unusually beautiful landscape which has been shaped, and continues to be shaped, by the elements. The multitude of karst formations in Puerto Rico have come about through the carbonic acid level in the water eroding the limestone. The caves and canyons that have been formed in this way have resulted in the Karst Country cave system being the third largest in the world, many of which have not been completely explored.

Although there is a lot of water in the area, most of it is below the surface. Some rivers, such as the El Rio de Camuy, pass through the area, disappear into the ground and resurface several kilometers downhill. This can make farming in the area a challenge, with the limestone soil being fertile but the surface water being sparse. Nevertheless, there is a lot of successful farming activity in the area.

The erosion of the limestone often leaves large sinkholes in the surface. One of these sinkholes contains one of the world’s largest telescopes used by the Arecibo Observatory to assist them in their ongoing research with regards to global climates and the effects of climatic changes on the environment.

The Bosque Estatal de Guajataca (Guajataca Forest) set in the heart of Karst Country, is classified as a subtropical moist forest and covers nearly 2,400 acres with sub conical haystack hills separated from each other by funnel shaped depressions. The forest has 46 designated hiking trails and walking routes to suit any level of fitness and all designed to allow visitors to see stunning scenery, amazing flora and fauna, as well as a variety of incredible karst formations. Forty-five bird species and 186 tree species have been identified in the Guajataca Forest. A lookout tower in the forest allows for an unsurpassed view of the surrounding area. The “Oueva Del Viento” (cave of the wind) is a highlight of the forest and has superb stalagmites, stalactites, columns and many other beautiful formations.

Exploring Karst Country is quite an undertaking, as there are so many interesting things to see. Certainly visitors who spend time in this unique area of Puerto Rico will see some awe-inspiring sights they are unlikely to forget.