Duration: Full Day
Departure Time: 6:30 a.m. at dock
Returning: 4:30-5:00 p.m.
ATM Cave: helmet, headlamp, life vest
Cave Tubing: helmet, headlamp, life vest
Zip Lining: helmet, gloves, harness
Included: Cold bottled water, sodas and a light snack are included in most tours. Transportation to & from the site, as well as a licensed tour guide. Full day activities typically include lunch, half day activities DO NOT.
What to Bring: Camera, cell phone, personal medications (for the day), light rain jacket or windbreaker, sunscreen, insect repellent, sunglasses, hat. Back pack with long pants and shirt that allow for movement and can get wet, good walking shoes (sneakers or hiking boots), a full change of clothes, and personal toiletries. Cash for paying park fees and tipping your guide.
ATM & Cave Tubing: You may want to bring swim shoes if you have access to them. If not, you can rent them at most sites.
Bird Watching: Feel free to bring your own binoculars, and any field guide books you may have.
Parental Note: Strollers and young children typically don't work well with many of the jungle activities. Be sure to ask about height and age requirements before booking any activity.
Note: The gear not included in the tour, can usually be put on a credit card, with park fees needing to be paid in cash.
Description: Belize is home to the largest cave system in all of Central America. A visit to Belize, would be incomplete, without at least one cave adventure.
Of all the caves in Belize, none are more famed than Actun Tunichil Muknal, or the Cave of the Crystal Sepulcher. While the stunning natural formations are enough to make this a “must see” destination, it's the Mayan influence that truly transforms this location from breathtaking to awe-inspiring.
During the height of the Mayan empire, it was believed that caves were the entrance to the underworld and the homes to the gods. None seemed to capture their imagination more than Actun Tunichil Muknal. Within this sacred cave. they would perform their religious rituals, going so far as to modify the formations to work as altars or create silhouettes when hit with light. However, even these remnants of the ancient culture don't tell the entire story. In truth, it's the famed Crystal Maiden that draws the attention, of most visitors. A human skeleton (left to calcify), and when hit with light, sparkles in the darkness. Thus the name “Crystal Maiden”.
The adventure to Actun Tunichil Muknal is best done by those who are physically fit. It starts with a three mile hike through rugged rainforest. From there, it's a short swim across a small pool into the dark entrance (of the cave), inviting you to enter a time long passed. As the darkness is navigated, you'll be led through a maze of chambers, passageways and tunnels until you reach the inevitable climax of the tour – the cathedral-like ceremonial chamber. Within this hallowed space, you come face to face with ceramics, stoneware and the Crystal Maiden herself.
Actun Tunichil Muknal
Travel to one the most popular Mayan ceremonial caves in the Maya world. Discovered in 1986 in western Belize, mapped and studied by archaeologist from 1993. The cave has a full length of 5 km but the ceremonial area used by the Mayan priest & shamans is 1 km from the entrance. Fourteen human remains have been found inside and 1100 ceramic objects. All bones and most ceramics have been completely covered by calcite from the drip water which has left them with a sparkling appearance especially the full extended skeleton called the ‘Crystal Maiden’.
Drive 1 hour from San Ignacio then hike is 35 minutes, that include three creek crossings and then the entrance to Achtun Tunichil Muknal. There is a little bit of swimming required to access the entrance of the cave. Once inside, you will be asked to remove your shoes and walk in socks to reduce any damage.
To see the Crystal Maiden you need to ascend a 13 ft ladder to reach the area known as the sepulcher. Time spent inside the cave is 2 ½ to 3 hrs. Get a in-depth look at Belize’s Mayan culture.
The ATM Tour is for the adventurous. The hiking, climbing and swimming can be challenging. Remember though, nothing incredible is ever easy and this trip is incredible! This is one of the best caves in Belize to explore, don't miss this tour.