"THINGS TO DO"
Come and experience the greatest in cave adventures and one of the most popular tourism activities in Belize. The cave system is just 1 hour from Belize City.
CAVE TUBING: You will begin your journey by arriving in Belize City. There you will board a private air conditioned van, which will transport you to an unforgettable adventure into the dense Belizean rainforest jungle of the Sibun Cave Branch area. You will travel the Western Highway en route to the Cave Branch area, where you will begin your cave tubing journey. When we reach the site, we will take a short walk through the jungle that will bring us to the entrance of the cave system. Here you will climb down an embankment, get into the water and float in your tube down the river through a 2 cave system, seeing magnificent rock formations. After a brief lunch, you begin the jungle zip lining portion of your day tour.
Enjoy the morning breeze as you travel along the different cayes while making your way to the Haulover River. There your private air conditioned van awaits to transport you to an unforgettable adventure into the dense rainforest of the Sibun Caves Branch area. Your zip Line adventure begins with a five minute walk in this amazing natural rainforest. There you will be assisted by your guide as you float through nature to the 8 different platforms which are strategically located within the rainforest canopy. You cannot miss this!
INCLUDED: Park fees, lunch, private guide, and transportation to and from the plane or water terminal to the site. Transportation to and from the Ambergris Caye to the mainland, not included. Alcoholic beverages are not included.
WHAT TO BRING: No open toed or loose sandals, you can risk losing them in the water. For cave tubing we recommend aqua or swim shoes. For zip lining we recommend comfortable walking shoes (preferably tennis or hiking shoes), sunscreen, insect repellent, hat, camera, bathing suit, towel, dry change of clothes, pocket money for tipping your guide (we recommend 15%).
DEPARTURE TIME & LOCATION: Boat leaves Ambergris Caye at 6:00 a.m./plane leaves at 7:00 a.m. and you return on either the 4:30 or 5:30 p.m. boat or plane back to Ambergris Caye.
Off the Hummingbird Highway, is the spiraling network of tunnels and limestone rooms comprising of 36 "crystal" caves with enormous vaults of crystallized columns and statuary. Much of the geological structure of Belize is porous karst limestone. This makes it ideal for the formation of underground caves and rivers, and the south of the country s dotted with them. Although many caves have been known for years, new ones - including some of the most extensive systems in the whole of Central America - are still being explored.
The Maya peoples who first inhabited Belize were particularly in awe of these underground caverns. For them, they were the entrance to the underworld, which they called Xibalba, or the Place of Fear. The Maya saw the surface of the planet on which they lived as being sandwiched between many other levels in which the souls of the dead, spirits, and their gods lived. There were nine levels beneath the earth, and caves gave a privilege if frightening access to this lower world. At many sites in Belize, you can still see the cave paintings, the pottery shards, the remains of fires and even occasionally sacrificial skeletons still wearing their jewelry and other finery.
The Cave Branch River is a gently flowing body of water coming down off the Mountain Pine Ridge. It really should be called a creek in most places. However, what makes the Cave Branch River unique is the fact that it flows in and out of a series of long limestone caves that are easily navigable on inner tubes and in kayaks.There are two major entry points along the river for visits to the Cave Branch caves: One is at Ian Anderson's Cave Branch jungle lodge, and the other is just above Jaguar Paw, a luxury hotel built on the banks of the river. In general terms, travelers looking for more adventurous and gritty trips into the caves should head to Ian Anderson's place; those seeking a more luxurious excursion into the underworld should head to Jaguar Paw. Either way, you will have to hike upstream to a put-in. Depending on the tour you choose and the amount of hiking you want to do, you will eventually climb into your inner tube and begin a slow float through anywhere from one to four caves. You will be equipped with a headlamp, and little else. If your group is small enough, I recommend you coordinate and all shut off your headlamps for a period of time. It's quite a spooky sensation to be floating in total darkness, wondering where the walls and ceilings are and whether or not you'll ever emerge into daylight again.
Guests will walk just 100 yards where they will pick up their life vests, grab an inner tube, and walk a few more feet to the river's edge where their unforgettable trip will begin. Your guide will carry a dry bag for your camera, with headlamps to light the way through these magical caves. From there, you will cross the river and begin your formative nature hike on trails through the jungle for thirty minutes to one hour, depending upon the length of the excursion you choose, until finally, you will reach the entrance to one of the many cave tunnels, wade in the river, sit on your tube and float leisurely, through the sacred world of the Maya underground.
From the Mountain Pine Ridge, the Cave Branch River descends into the valleys of the Sibun Hills and Joins the Sibun River. On its course, it passes through green forests that hide white cliffs under a blue sky.
The basalt and granite that form the Mountain Pine Ridge is the result of volcanic activity during the Paleozoic Era. Nothing else of Belize and for that matter Central America existed, for a vast ocean separated North from South America. It wasn't until the Cretaceous Period, that dinosaurs roamed the great continents at this time but the rest of Belize was slowly forming below the sea. For thousands of years a reef surrounded the limestones of the Maya Mountains. The layer is 1,000 to 2,000 meters thick in some places. Eventually the sea level fell and the mountains of Central America pushed their way upward to put a slender waist between two continents. As the Cretaceous Period ended, wind, rain, and faulting have cut the Maya Mountains into the face of Belize. The foothills of these mountains resemble rolling hills covered in a green blanket but a close look reveals something else.
Rugged describes the hills from the headwaters of the Caves Branch between Coma Cairn and Baldy Sibun to its link with the Sibun River. The catchment basin is only 88 square km but a substantial river pours out of this bowl. All along its course, the limestone of the hills and valleys pirates the surface water to form underground streams that feed the Caves Branch. The Caves Branch itself flows for only 10 km before it is also swallowed by the limestone hills though which it has forced a channel to meet the Sibun. Where the river flows on the surface, it has cut banks as much as 10 meters deep into the limestone and it protects itself from further piracy from the limestone below by accumulating cobble, gravel and shale that has cemented into a non-porous bed. The valley which the Cave Branch has carved is only 2 km wide and the steep sided hills which are more like cliffs averaging 30 meters in height. Erosion has isolated the hills from each other and cut them into many shapes and sizes so to climb one hill, one must descend into the valley to ascend the next. Geologists call this limestone terrain "cockpit karst". The most effective way to hike the terrain is to travel through the narrow an winding valleys between these hills. The hilltops are nearly bare rock and are deeply fissured. The slopes of these hills are really short cliffs; one set on top, the other all the way to the top. Trees on the way up manage a precarious toe-hold and are easily buffeted down during high winds. During heavy rains, hundred of small streams, some lasting a mere four hours, flow down the hillsides and the valley below. Water which pericolates into these hills form more enduring underground streams and over the milennia, they have discovered thousands of vases, into the landscape.
Wince the 17th century when Europeans arrived to log the forests, the caves have been used as shelter from the rain and cold by the loggers and the chicleros and hunters who followed. These days rural Belizeans may picnic in the mouths of these caves and more unscrupulous visitors hunt pre-Colombian artifacts the Mayas left behind. The Mayas were the first to venture into the caves. The most renown in the area is the Petroglyph Cave with its hieroglyphic texts on the walls. Possibly all of these caves contain pottery, pottery shards and even burials. The Mayas had a special reverence for caves since their entrances were considered the entrances to Xibalba, their Underworld. According to their creation stories, several deities inhabit these caves.