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.
This is an important archeological site, Barton Creek Cave is a sprawling cave system, with about 4 miles of water passages that are accessible by canoe and another half mile of water passages that are inaccessible. Unlike many of the other caves found in Belize, it's the calmness of the waters flowing through the cave, which make this adventure easy to navigate. Done entirely in canoes, visitors are gently whisked into the cathedral-like entrance, with its towering stalactites and gorgeous structures. Shortly after entering the cave, one can find themselves in total darkness, with only the lights from the boats (and your headlamps), to reveal the mysteries inside.
While Barton Creek is impressive for its sheer size and depth, the canoes remain on a course through the areas most traveled. Guides will take you on a journey through the 4 miles accessible by canoe. With cave lights and head lamps, you will be able to marvel at the many simmering, countless crystal formation. As you come to the end of the accessible part of this tour, you will turn around and go back (the way you came), to the entrance of the cave.
Barton Creek Cave once served as an important place of worship for the ancient Maya people. Though looting has been rampant (over the years), discovery of the cave has nevertheless remained a place of historical significance. Archaeologists still find remnants of Mayan culture within the cave and have found no less than 28 different human remains.
Even with such a large collection of artifacts, it's the natural formations, which make this cave truly special.
Xibalba Cave at Barton Creek
Mother Nature Network has listed Barton Creek Cave (1 of 9) Most Beautiful & Unusual Cave Destinations in the world.
Belize has an extensive network of caves for adventure seekers to explore. Barton Creek Cave allows you to peek into the underworld of the Maya's through the convenience of a kayak or canoe. This is a great adventure for smaller children, because all they need to do is sit back and watch as the guide steers the canoe through the cave passages.
Barton Creek is a great example of a cave that offers a bit of everything. This cave is presently a working archaeological site, so in addition to rock formations, artifacts and skeletal remains, you may even bump into an anthropologist committed to unearthing more mysteries.
Barton Creek Cave is nearly five miles long, so allow plenty of time to explore this cave without feeling rushed. From the comfort of a canoe, you will pass about ten ledges, which researchers have identified as former staging areas for Mayan rituals.
Where is the cave located?
Barton Creek is located in the Cayo District of Belize. It is a 45-minute drive from San Ignacio. Scattered along the way, are many small Mennonite villages, which have been here for decades. This Mennonite community produces the majority of dairy products for the country of Belize.
What is the Best way to experience Barton Creek Cave?
In 2009, the Xibalba Mapping & Exploration Team opened several kilometers of accessible cave that year but there is still much to be unearthed. Mayan communities made this cave their homes in both the Early Classic (200 to 600 AD) and Late Classic (from 600 AD to 900 AD) periods, so a little homework could make your visit more interesting. Arrange for a picnic during your excursion and a stop at area waterfalls. By the time you leave, you’ll understand why the Mother Nature Network named the Barton Creek Cave one of the nine most beautiful and unusual cave destinations in the world.
When is the Best Time to Go?
Barton Creek Cave is fed by a single stream or creek. Paddling into the cave is normally an effortless experience, unless the cave has received an abnormal amount of rain. Rainy season here in Belize, is from June to October. On occasion, the cave will be closed due to high water levels. Check with your local guide if there are any precautions in place for touring the cave during this time period. Generally speaking, should not have any trouble visiting this cave.
What is the Best way to get to Barton Creek Cave?
If you’re driving to the cave from San Ignacio (or sister town Santa Elena), be on the lookout for directional signage. Cross the Hawksworth Bridge (it’s the lone suspension bridge in Belize) and follow signs west or catch a bus or shuttle. A guided tour will always be your best option. Book with an experienced local guide and put all of the arrangements into their hands so you don’t have to lift a finger until you pick up your boat paddle.
This cave canoeing adventure is very mild yet very fun and educational. The Barton Creek Cave is located within the traditional Mennonite village so you do get to see this very interesting people of Belize. This cave is rich with cultural remains that were once offered to Mayan gods in supplication for rain and good agricultural harvests. Come to enjoy “ Xibalba “ from the comfort of your canoe.
Barton Creek is a remote cave which, like many of the subterranean caverns of Belize, was used by the ancient Mayan people for ceremonial purposes. This is a relaxed, but exciting canoe trip inside a mountain on an ancient waterway where you can observe grand cathedral ceilings in the cave, as well as numerous formations and stalactites and stalagmites
We begin our journey through farmland where you can observe the Mennonite community of Upper Barton Creek and experience their traditional lifestyle. We then reach Barton Creek Cave, much of which is still to be explored and which stretches for 4.5 miles. We canoe in for one mile exploring the amazing history and geology of this massive cave. At the entrance of the cave, we board our canoes, switch on our headlights and start to slowly paddle into the cave passage. While floating deeper into the passage we learn about the geology, archaeology, and Mayan history of these caves. Our lights will bring to life sparkling crystal formations that are millions of years old. After exploring the caves, we turn our canoes around and float back to park our canoes and complete our half day tour with a refreshing swim.
Barton Creek is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Cayo District. In addition to its natural beauty, the site contains a wide range of cultural remains that were left within the cave as offerings by the ancient Maya. Artifacts, hearths, modified cave formations, and human remains were deposited on ledges above the river indicating that the cave was of great ritual importance to the ancient settlers of the region.