Punta Venado
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A group consisting of Alejandro Alvarez, Fred Devos, Chris Le Maillot, Simon Richards and Daniel Riordan spent the first two weeks of December 2004 exploring in Quintana Roo, focusing on the Punta Venado area just south of Playa del Carmen, and on the Yax Chen system of caves just south of Tulum.  Members of the group had surveyed a number of wet and dry caves in the Punta Venado region over a number of years, and further prospects were identified during a walk of the area at the start of December.

Escondite del Diablo

The preparatory walk of the Punta Venado property had identified some holes in the limestone shore which appeared to have cave passages heading inland.  Entering through one of these holes, we dived upstream through a series of shallow narrow passages, mostly in the halocline, until the cave became too narrow to be prudently pursued.  Breakdown areas frequently seemed to block the "natural" progression of the cave inland (NW), resulting in frequent detours SW and even S and SE, and the flow frequently seemed to disappear from the main passage and then return. Returning back downstream, we established a connection to the  ocean, in total surveying 360m.  At its upstream end point, Escondite del Diablo is some 200m from the current downstream endpoint of neighboring Sistema Cubera at a small cenote, and although it seems likely that the same water flows through both systems, hopes for a diveable passage are slim.

Sistema Cubera

First explored in January 2001, the initial dives in this cave system had yielded 781m of cave passage.  The main passage brings water from west to east through winding mud-choked tunnels, and larger dormant passage to the south contains debris pushed in during tidally influenced flow reversals.   In parallel with the Escondite del Diablo dives, other team members were continuing the upstream exploration of Sistema Cubera, laying and surveying 334m of line on the "West Side" passage and connecting Cenote Pargo, until the cave walled out.

Click HERE for the map of Punta Venado and HERE for photos from the project.