Absolute blog: July 2010

Love Indiana Jones? The ATM caves might be just up your street

5 July 10

The Mayan Civilization considered caves to be entrances to the underworld and home to their gods, so almost all caves in Belize have been discovered to contain sacrificial and ritual offerings, including pottery, food, tools and what was considered to be the most important offering…. human blood and lives. The Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Caves contain around 200 ceramic pots and the skeletal remains of 14 humans, so whilst it is not a place for the feint hearted, it is a breathtaking and exhilarating experience for budding archaeologists, history buffs, or those just with a keen sense of adventure.

Located in the Cayo District in the northern foothills of the Maya Mountains, the tour begins with a mile or so trek through lush jungle before you reach the cave entrance. Here you will have valuables and cameras placed into the guide’s dry bag, plunge into the pool at the entrance to the cave and swim inside. From here you swim, crawl and scramble through multiple dark caverns, discovering the Mayan artifacts and glittering rock and mineral formations, stalagmites and stalactites. Once inside the main chamber you will witness the eery remains of the woman who Actun Tunichil Muknal is named after – The Cave of the Stone Sepulcher, whilst your guide explains the Mayan practices of sacrifice.

It is widely believed that the caves will not be open to the public for much longer due to the fragility and value of the artifacts and visits are very carefully controlled, so it is worth booking well in advance as there are only a few tour companies with the license to go.

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Whether you want an action packed agenda in the water and the jungle, or simply spend some quality time in a hammock, Belize has something for all tastes and tempos.

Map of Belize, showing our 4 main regions
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