Hundreds of thousands of years ago, rainwater carved out and percolated through the limestone upon which Belize sits to create one of the world’s largest networks of caves; an immense labyrinth the ancient Maya called Xibalba; the gates of the underworld through which their priests could communicate with deities or attempt to appease them with elaborate ceremonies and sacrifices.
Today, the stunningly beautiful caves of Belize are still filled with altars, artefacts and, yes, the skeletons of sacrificial victims. And the best part? They are all a short drive away from our Macal River Junge Camp.
One visit to the ATM and you’ll understand why National Geographic named it the number one “Top Sacred Caves of the World.” Filled with an amazing assortment of artefact, altars, ceremonial implements and skeletons; including the famous “Crystal Maiden,” exploring the ATM is a breathtaking experience.
A large, bright, open-ended cave that we especially like due to its proximity to one of our favourite swimming spots – the Rio On Pools.
Next to our next favourite swimming hole…the St Herman’s Blue Hole. Not to be confused with Caribbean Great Blue Hole, this beautiful freshwater pool has refreshed many a trip along our favourite Belizean road – The Hummingbird Highway
Back when The Lodge at Chaa Creek was still just getting started, a neighbour’s dog chased some game into a hole and, Voilà! William discovered an amazing underground ceremonial cave. This family-operated cultural gem has remained off the beaten path and is one of our favourites.
Caves that combine aquatic adventure, culture, and subterranean beauty. Gently float along on an inner tube though some spectacular natural beauty as well as more artefacts, altars and evidence of ancient Maya ceremonies.
Makes for another exciting float – this time a canoe trip about four and a half miles long and filled with natural beauty and ancient Maya artefacts.
Or the Black Hole Drop, AKA The Mother of All Caves, has a 300-foot drop to the bottom – the last 100 feet abseiled through the canopy of the forest growing inside. An adrenaline-fuelled adventure not for the faint-hearted
These are just a few examples, and there are others – including the Caribbean Great Blue Hole, which is essentially a cave stood on its side – and undoubtedly many more waiting to be discovered.
As each cave is a bit different, ask your guides what to wear and bring. The ATM, for example, requires a short swim to access.
But whichever you choose, you can be assured of having an adventure you’ll be telling the folks back home about for years to come.
Departures: Daily from 7:30 am
Duration: Anywhere from 1/2 day to full day
Difficulty: Moderate to very challening
What to bring along: Socks*, Hat, extra clothes, water, and insect repellant
Dress: Short or long pants and sturdy protective footwear - sleeve lengths optional