Belize has a myriad of magnificent cave systems and a wide range of spelunking opportunites. Mayan priests and their elite hierarchy used the caves for ceremonies and left behind huge caches of pottery, carvings, sacrificial altars and other evidence of their culture. The Mayas believed Xibalba, their underworld, was reached thru the caves.
Ben Lomond (Stann Creek), Rio Frio and St Hermans (Cayo) are all huge walk in caves suitable for nearly everyone to visit. They are all very photogenic and beautiful.
Actun Tunij Muchnal-This is perhaps the most memorable tour in Belize and is an experience of a lifetime. Its a pretty and relatively easy 40 minute hike, crisscrossing and wading through a stream three times (look for river otters) before you reach the mouth of this river cave. No special skills are required other than average agility, the ability to swim (or wear a life vest) and spend the next five hours wading, climbing, crawling and walking. The creek that runs through this cave begins as the 1000 Foot Falls in the Mountain Pine Ridge. The artifacts here are extraordinary and reflect it's mayan name: Cave of the Sacrificial Altar. Pots, pottery, jadeite pieces and human skeletal remains lie hidden inside huge chambers. The cave itself is alive with flow stones and formations making this a visually, historically and geologically extraordinary experience. Because the cave ecology is so fragile and because the artifacts hidden inside are so valuable, the Department of Archeology only permits a few guides to use the cave.
Che Chem Ha Cave or Vaca Cave-Is located in the Cayo district, just outside of Benque town. The cave is on the property of a wonderful family who act as guides for visitors and guardians for the cave. It's a 40 minute hike, mostly up, through a small opening in the hillside that widens as you venture further inside the cave. Museum quality pots and pottery 1200 plus years old line the pathway and ledges above you. Some still hold the remnants of corn stored there more than a millennia ago. The cave visit concludes in a huge cavern with an altar in the middle of the room.
Caves Branch River is the source of some of the best recreational caving to be found anywhere. The easiest and most popular of the inner tube floats require that you be agile enough to walk on sometimes slippery rocks, swim and hike jungle trails. These floats are exciting and relaxing. The river winds in and out of the darkness of the caves and into the light of the jungle as you float downstream. The cave systems are dramatically decorated with stalactites, stalagmites, flow stones and crystallized ceilings. Some of the caves hold Mayan artifacts and are of more archeological interest.
Repelling: Thrilling and challenging if you're up to it. You begin by hiking through the foothills of the Maya Mountains on up and down terrain for approximately 90 minutes. Suddenly, through dense jungle foliage, you see the sheer white walls of a sink hole, a geographical depression created by the collapse of the limestone foundation above a cave system. This sinkhole has a 600 ft diameter. The gear is professional and the guides well trained. You are secured in a harness, attached to ropes and slowly lowered 300 feet to the bottom. Make sure you save enough time to explore the cave at the bottom of the sinkhole. This cave has fabulous Mayan petroglyphs (pictures) carved into the limestone walls. You exit by climbing an aluminum ladder up the side of the sinkhole. You need to be in relatively good shape for the hiking and climbing, and of course, not afraid of heights.
These are just a few of the many caves we have. Please note that you should not attempt to explore any cave other than Rio Frio and St Herman's without a knowledgeable guide who is familiar with the cave. Ask before you touch anything. Like the coral reef, cave ecosystems are alive and fragile.
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