Back in the 1990’s National Geographic Magazine published a great article that put the Talgua Caves on the map. Shortly after, the New York Times also published an article about the Talgua Caves. Also known as the “Cave of the Glowing Skulls” these unique caves are near Catacamas. Catacamas is one of the two important cities in Olancho, Honduras. The find was unique, as the caves served as a ceremonial burial ground for an ancient civilization. Olancho is officially outside the Mesoamerican region. Thus it is a link between this region and the South American Native Civilizations. The human remains found there have date to 3000 before Christ. This means they are 5000 years old!
The Talgua Caves Eco Archaeological Park
It had been years since I was back in Olancho! I really needed to get back to the caves and check them out once again. The Talgua Caves are part of an eco archaeological park. The park is under the management of the Honduras Institute of Anthropology and History. The site is only 10 km. from Catacamas via a great road. It is best if you have your own vehicle to get there, as public transportation is limited. The site is opon from 8:00 am till 4:00 pm. Entrance fee for foreigners is only 140 lempiras per person. At the current exchange rate, this is approximately $6 US dollars. Locals pay only 30 lempiras. This fee will give you access to the caves and to the small museum on site. Unfortunately, I did not get to visit the museum because it is currently under renovations.
You will not have access to the main chamber where the glowing skulls are. But you will be able to hike the trail that is about 500 meters long (one third of a mile) into the caves. A well built cement walkway with a sturdy railing allows easy access into the caves. There is a good hiking trail between the parking area before you get to the cave entrance. The trail is well maintained, but is not adequate for handicapped people.
A group of local guides is always available on site to offer tours. The cost of a guided tour is only 100 lemps for a group of up to 10 persons. Unfortunately, the guides do not speak English, so I hope you can understand Spanish to enjoy the tour to the fullest. If you absolutely need an English guide, I suggest you stop by at the El Pedral Restaurant. This is at the entrance to the parking area. The owner, Mr. Javier Aleman lived in the United States for many years. He speaks English and his sons were born and raised in the United States. They may be able to help you out!
Best Restaurant Near the Talgua Caves
El Pedral, by the way, is the only restaurant in the area. It has a great open area that looks out to the local forests. We even got to see an emerald toucan while we were enjoying a great meal! The restaurant has clean bathrooms. They serve good tasty food and are a great source of local information. They even have a couple of rooms for rent where you can stay for only 500 lempiras per night. Don Javier, the owner can arrange for tours to La Picucha. This is a nearby community where you can enjoy nature and interact with local farmers.
Talking about local farmers, you will see several donkeys and mules within the parking area of the site. These are not for rent or used in tours. They are the cargo system used by the local farmers to bring their crops into town. From here, they use the public transportation to get to the Catacamas market.
Mr. Javier Aleman introduced me to an interesting local worker that goes by the name of Desderio. Don Desiderio is an interesting character who has worked in the site for almost 30 years. He was one of the local liaisons with National Geographic staff that was in Honduras to get the production of the article and documentary they put together featuring the finds in the caves. I was fortunate to meet him and he kindly offered to be our guide into the caves. Don Desiderio is a perfect example of friendly locals that are proud to be Honduran and share their heritage and history with you. He is a fun person to meet. It’s a shame he does not speak English!
If you are visiting Olancho, a visit to the Talgua Caves is an absolute must! There are few tourists that venture this far off the beaten road. Do take note that there tends to be many more local visitors on the weekends. The cave is safe and well lit up. It is a true adventure that I enjoyed reliving once again. I wholeheartedly recommend a visit to the Talgua Caves.
Because Juticalpa and Catacamas are close, you can visit the Talgua Caves from either city. I believe that a day tour from Tegucigalpa is possible, but you will spend much time on the road.
Many travelers that are visiting Honduras have long complained about having to backtrack from La Ceiba to San Pedro Sula to continue their journey. The new highway between Trujillo and Tegucigalpa makes it possible to do a loop. You can visit Trujillo and then continue on to Tegucigalpa without having to backtrack! If you do so, you should plan on spending a couple of nights in Olancho. Of course one of the must do activities if you do so is to visit the Talgua Caves.