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The caves of Haiti - About us

About us

Sunday 12 October 2014, by Olivier Testa

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

- Our Projects
- Press and media
- The team

| Projects

This program of conservation and promotion of Haiti’s underground heritage was started in 2009 upon the initiative of Carole Devillers and Olivier Testa from the Speleo Groupe de La Tronche.

2009-2011

Supported initially by the Foundation Lucienne Deschamps, the Foundation Odette Roy Fombrun and the Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE), the project is carried in 2010 by the Foundation Macaya for Local Development. In 2011 the project receives the patronage of UNESCO and a financial support from the French Embassy in Haiti.

In 2011 the Foundation Françoise Canez Auguste, the Foundation Lise Antoine Saint-Natus Health Education Women (FLASSEF) and Valerio Canez S.A join in to support the project.

From this "early period", our activities were
- making a speleological expedition in the south of Haiti. Our main discovery was the Grotte Bellony, in Pestel
- working on a small scale and local development project, funded by the Franch Embassy, to train local guides, and highlight and protect somes caves

French Embassy in Haiti, FSD  Patronnage UNESCO


French Federation of Speleology FORF Deschamps ORE


Valerio Canez Flassef Canne à sucre

2012

A new partnership with Fondation Culture Creation allows us to

  • make a new expedition, in the Nippes Department.
    • We discover a pristine cave, one of the longest of the country, with very delicate formations, and for the first time in the South, some rock art in a cave. Three ancient petroglyphs.
  • We organised a 7 day training in Petit-Trou de Nippes
  • We invited a Dominican archeologist to have a look at the rock carvings discovered
  • A photo exhibition was organized at Parc Historique de la Canne à Sucre
  • And a conference offered at Institut Français d’Haiti

Partners, sponsors and funders
Fondation Francois Canez Anguste, FORF, Flassef, Fondation Culture Creation, Hommes des Cavernes, Fondation de France, Fédération Française de Spéléologie (to be double checked for ommissions)

Later in 2012, there was a short mission to identify potential caves in the Môle-Saint-Nicolas area

2013

With good results in 2012, our contract with Fondation Culture Creation was extended.

  • We made a caving expedition in the South East, with outstanding results:
    • New deepest cave in haiti, grott Marie-Louise, with good prospects for tourisme
    • we visited a huge cave, Gouffre Séjourné, 120m deep monstruous vertical shaft
    • we discovered an archaeological site, a shaft were people used to throw their garbage, plus human bones, and a slave chain
    • we discovered a hot cave with an record number of bats.
  • A press conference and several interventions in the media were made, to raise awareness of the fragility of caves
  • A small photo book was printed in Haiti, called "Les Grottes du Sud-Est, un patrimoine à préserver", by Carole Devillers

Partners, sponsors and funders
Fondation Francois Canez Anguste, FORF, Flassef, Fondation Culture Creation, Hommes des Cavernes, Fondation de France, Fédération Française de Spéléologie (to be double checked for ommissions)

  • A new expedition later un 2012, named Anba Makaya, was made in a remote place in the Macaya area, formon
    • Huge data collected by the 6-strong team.
    • More than 100 caves were explored and inventoried
    • The canyon Casse-Cou was discovered and probably descended for the first time in the modern era.
    • A short film showed its beauty for the first time to the general audience.

Partners, sponsors and funders
Hommes des Cavernes, Fédération Française de Spéléologie, Bourses LAbalette Aventure, Bourses Expé, Petzl, etc etc (to be double checked for ommissions)

2014

  • UNESCO Asked us for an exhibition in Paris
  • Archeological research

2015

  • Exhibition at Unesco Headquarters (Paris), for 3 full weeks.

2016

  • Request for a full programm around the caves in the south

2017

  • Expedition in the South
    • Discovery of Ravine Blanche, a beautiful small canyon that was unknown
    • Re-discovery of Grotte Soulas
    • Exporation of new passages in Grotte Marie-Jeanne
    • observation of several recent human skelettons in the caves of a certain area.
  • Training of 17 young people to spéléologie, for 2 weeks, in partnership with the French School of Speleology
  • Bolting of routes in 7 caves and canyon, to develop speleology as a sport in these caves
  • Shooting of a short movie on the caves in the south, by famous filmmaker Vladimir Cellier

Partners
UTE, Ministry of Tourism, BID, Fédération Française de Spéléologie, Fondation Petzl, Petzl, Fodacim, Hommes des Cavernes

A new partnership, with the Dominican Republic Speleological Society, and the possibility to have very good diving equipment, was the occasion to start an underwater cave exploration program.

  • First cave diving expedition in Haiti

Partners
Hommes des Cavernes, DRSS

2018

With the result of our preliminary expedition in 2017, a bigger expedition was made, with more resources

  • cave diving expedition in Haiti

The project started the previous years with the ministry of tourism ended in 2018

  • Release of the movie ’Anba, in the Depths of Haiti’, and submission to mountain film festivals around the world
  • Release of the caving guide book ’Caves and Canyons of Haiti - Sud department’, on downloadable pdf, and 1000 printed copies (1st edition)

| Press and media

  • Radio - Television:
    • Special guest at Tropic FM Radio during the May 2, 2011 news bulletin
    • Guests of Télé Superstar, May 2011
    • Guests of RTN (Radio-Tele Na mi) for a special broadcast on caves, May 13, 2011

Contact

Olivier Testa
Olivier.Testa@cavesofhaiti.org
(+33) 6 04 46 45 10 (France)

Carole Devillers
Carole@cavesofhaiti.org
(+1) 954 272 8407 (USA) (+509) 37 59 28 91 (Haïti)

| The team

> Olivier Testa

Project chief, speleologist and photographer, mounted and participated in speleological explorations in Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, China, Chilean Patagonia, Haiti, Madagascar, Dominican Republic and has also coordinated humanitarian and touristic projects in developping countries.

www.olivier-testa.com

Olivier Testa


> Carole Devillers

Photojournalist and writer, has spent some twenty years in Haiti, worked for ten years as photo correspondent of the news agency Reuters in Port-au-Prince, and has several ethnological articles in National Geographic Magazine to her credit. Her work has been widely published in the international press.

www.AdventurePhotoExpeditions.com

Carole Devillers


> Jean-François Fabriol

Photographer and speleologist, has lighted up hundreds of caves across the world with his flashes. He brings back, from his expeditions, photos with a unique style. Explorer from a tender age, his photos are guided by his experience.

www.jffabriol.esy.es

Jeff Fabriol


> Pascal Orchampt

Engineer and speleologist, participates in numerous speleological expeditions abroad and contributes in the technical areas. He works and develop new caving equipment at PETZL

Pascal Orchampt


> Stephanie Jagou

Stephanie joined the team in 2013. French/Canadian specialised in sustainable development and corporate responsibility, she brings in her experience in strategy and develops her speleological skills

Stephanie Jagou


For any inquieries about the exhibition Grottes d’Haïti, entre imaginaires et réalités: Stéphanie Jagou (association Hommes des Cavernes)

Website conception v1: Jean-François Hayet (Studio Arphidia)
Website V2 (CMS): NOT Engineers

Anse du Clerc