Community Focus : Niagara's natural wonder
For those who are into exploring the nooks and crannies of Jamaica's landscape, there is a cave network in the rural district of Niagara, St James, that offers a view of natural wonder, hidden in the depths of darkness.
The Niagara caves, which are located on property occupied by a local flower farm and are home to colonies of bats, were explored and documented by the Jamaican Caves Organisation (JCO) in 2004 as part of the group's assessment of caves in the parish of St James.
"When we did that cave, it was a research project to do a rapid assessment and get baseline data for all the caves in St James, which was done under a National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) wildlife permit," said Ronald Stefan Stewart, JCO founder and chairman.
To access the Niagara caves, prospective spelunkers (cave-explorers) must first travel along a rocky road leading to the property where the local flower farm is located. Once visitors go past the farm's front gate, the caves' entrance is a few minutes' walk away, partially hidden by vegetation and overshadowed by a huge rock formation.
It is risky to enter the caves without proper gear and lighting and without a guide, as one wrong step could get even the bravest explorer lost in the dark. But once the equipment is secured, visitors can access the dry cave at the front and the river-cave further inward, where an underground river flows outward, and potentially see the bats that make the caves their home.