Journey into the Maya Underworld
Begin your journey back through time as you enter the amazing realm of Belize’s cave systems, with a chance to learn more about a mysterious ancient Maya civilization and the geological processes that shaped the region.
Caves in BelizeMillions of years ago seeping rainwater and underground rivers began etching through soft bedrock and outcrops. Today caves are to Belize like Swiss is to cheese and beneath the surface can be found some of the most spectacular and extensive cave systems on the planet. Now you might be expecting dank and claustrophobic passageways, however you are more likely to find enormous chambers and a subterranean world that is fast becoming one of Belize’s most popular attractions.
Caves and the Maya
Caves and the MayaCaves are inextricably bound up with the history of Belize, having been fundamental to the religion of the Maya. Vapor clouds forming at the mouth of caves suggested to the Maya that these were the places where wind and clouds were born. Here dwelled the gods of nature and caves were the portal between the tangible human world and the invisible world of gods – a place called Xibalba. It was here at the mouth of caves as well as deep within the recesses that the Maya performed their most sacred rituals.
Few caves do not have some visible sign of their past visitation and evidence of their activities can often be found for substantial distances inside these caves. Relics, principally in the form of shards of pottery, are very common. Caves in Belize offers the opportunity for a wide range of activities from moderate to adventurous excursions to suit nearly any age and fitness level.
Cave Attractions / Cayo District
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave)
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave)If you wanted to do the most amazing thing we have to offer, it is Actun Tunichil Muknal. Amazing Mayan skeletal remains, amazing pottery, amazing cave. Don’t think so much amazing-ness comes easy. You will drive on a rough road, hike about 45 minutes to reach the cave, then swim into the cave, wade through the cave, climb around the cave, explore and then go through it all again in the opposite order. … more
Cave Tubing at Caves Branch
Cave Tubing at Caves BranchEnter an exciting realm where rivers disappear into the underworld as you float on inner tubes with only your head lamp to lead the way. Guided Exploration is by rubber inner tube. This is a fun and relaxing day floating in an inner tube down a river, in and out of caves, with a head lamp on. Some underground hiking and jungle trekking with your inner tube is required … more
Cave Canoing at Barton Creek
Cave Canoeing at Barton CreekApart from the drive there, this is the easiest cave to do. Typically getting to a cave requires hiking in, not so Barton Creek Cave. You drive right up, hop in a canoe and away you go to explore the Maya underworld. Don’t think that you are missing out by not breaking a sweat: it’s a pretty cave where you glide through this underwater cave system in a canoe equipped with a powerful spotlight … more
St. Herman’s Cave
St. Hermans CaveLocated within the 800 acre Blue Hole National Park, exploring the cave and/or taking a refreshing swim in the inland blue hole makes for a convenient stopover when traveling south or to Cayo District. You can explore the cave on your own. To continue into restricted areas of the cave, park guide are available … more
Flour Camp Cave
Flour Camp CaveA duPlooy favorite because of its remoteness while at the same time being close enough to the lodge to make it easily accessible by horseback or on foot. Also few places offer tours to Flour Camp Cave and as a result it is a peaceful spot. Inside the cave you will see Maya pottery pieces (shards) and impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations. You can combine canoeing and horseback riding with a very nice cave all in one fun trip.
Flour Camp CaveTo get there, drive, hike (2 hours) or arrive on Horseback, then hike uphill for another 45 minutes to reach the cave entrance. You will have an hour or so to explore inside the cave, before heading back down to the Macal River for a riverside picnic lunch and a refreshing swim. Afterwards Paddle your way back by canoe or by inner-tube to duPlooy’s or return on horseback, if you’re not feeling too saddle sore …
Cave Attractions / Southern Belize
Blue Creek Cave
Blue Creek CaveThe Maya name is “Hokeb Ha”or “Where the water enters the earth” and is located within the Blue Creek 200-acre rainforest preserve and wildlife sanctuary. This very large cave begins near the village of Santa Cruz, where the river rushes underground, resurfacing five mile later near the village of Blue Creek. To reach the cave, you’ll hike approximately twenty minutes over mostly easy terrain. As you approach the cave, the river breaks into small waterfalls and clear pools for swimming.
Blue Creek CaveHeadlights in place, life jackets on, you clamber over the rocks of a dry creek bed to reach the river emerging from the cave. You have entered the mysterious underworld of the Maya; then hike/swim to a waterfall inside the cave. Along the way are pristine crystal-clear mineral pools and lagoons. Keep going as far as you can, spending about an hour inside the cave and then enjoy the cave’s colossal beauty as you float out the cave.
This excursion, when done from Placencia, is often preceded with a stop at the Maya Archaeological sites of Lubaantun or Nim Li Punit.
Tiger CaveThe cave is also referred to as the San Miguel Cave because it is about a 1.5-hour walk from the Mayan village of San Miguel. The trail passes through second growth forest and n corn milpas and offers an opportunity to learn about the diversity of the rain forest and a first-hand view of Maya farming practices.The cave consists of several chambers that vary from flat to craggy, to full of vegetation to completely dry. Near the entrance, large gaping holes in the ceiling of the cave give way to shafts of sunlight that reveal huge vaulted ceilings, called “The double skylight”. No streams or creeks run through the entrance chamber, although, deeper into the cave, you will have to cross water.