Actun Tunichil Muknal is found a 45-minute drive from San Ignacio and a 45-minute walking through the lovely Tapir Mountain Nature Book; with many forest stream crossings, visitors discover a crystal-clear stream moving from the cave opening. A short swim into the cave as well as an assisted hike with the underground world is awarded by one of the most impressive Maya sites in Belize, consisting of huge pots, ceremonial chambers, and human skeletal remains cemented in limestone.
Actun Tunichil Muknal was reported in 1989 by geomorphologist Tom Miller and open to the general public since 1998. The cave is approximately 5 kilometers in length, has four entrances. The two areas of significant archaeology interest in Actun Tunichil Muknal are the stelae Chamber and the main chamber.
Exploring this cave requires strenuous activity and confident swimming skills.
Barton Creek Cave
Barton Creek is located a 45-minute drive from San Ignacio in the central Cayo district. From the village of Georgeville, drive three miles south on the Chiquibul road, then due east for five miles through a small Mennonite community.
This is one of the easiest caves to reach, as travelers won’t have to climb steep hills or walk far to get to the cave’s beckoning mouth. With the help of an experienced local guide, you’ll canoe or gently tube between room-size boulders and be transformed by the large glittering stalactites that cast a bewildering glow. You’ll need powerful lanterns to light your way from Barton Creek Cave’s entrance to the stopping point, a journey that can range from 1 to 2 miles in the wet season to as much as 4.5 miles long when water levels are lower.
It is believed that the ancient Maya used this cave for ritualistic activities such as human sacrifices, bloodletting rituals, and fertility rites. Today, explorers feel privileged to see ancient Mayan pottery’s remains and the human bones that line the cave’s floors.
This cave tour is suitable for guests of varying strengths, ages, and abilities.
Che Chem Ha Cave
Che Chem Ha Cave, which is located 16 miles from San Ignacio near Vaca Falls, is a full-blast adrenaline rush, from the 45-minute uphill hike to discover one of the most incredible collections of Mayan pottery ever. have seen before.
Che Chem ha contains substantial evidence of ancient Maya ritual activity from the middle pre-classic period (900 -300 BC) to the late classic period (from Ad 700 – 850). Today Che Chem ha is a living museum where artifacts may be viewed in their original contexts. This cave is notable for its unique collection of Mayan art and artifacts. Visitors interested in archeology will appreciate the cave entrance, which is decorated with Mayan motifs, and the wide variety of ancient storage vessels called “ollas,” that line the chamber walls. This cave tour is suitable for guests in good physical condition; merely getting to the cave’s mouth requires significant energy exertion.
St. Herman’s Cave
This is one of the caves that need minimal effort to visit, St Herman’s, nestled amongst the dense rainforest on the Hummingbird Highway, just 12 miles southeast of Belize’s capital, Belmopan. The cave is within the Blue Hole National Park, aptly named for the blue underground cenote that bears its name.
If you’ve never been to Blue Hole National Park, try it! Inside the park are two of the most fantastic cave systems you have ever visited: Saint Herman’s Cave and Crystal Cave.
This cave has cultural and archaeological significance and offers a glimpse into the Classic Maya Period. The cave of San Herman is truly a snapshot in time in the most magical and mystical setting.
Like St. Herman’s, the Crystal Cave is also located in the Blue Hole National Park. A guided exploration of this spectacular cave system takes you miles down, to massive caverns that are adorned with crystalline formations.
The steep descent that takes you to these caverns takes about an hour. Then, at the mouth of the cave, you will follow the same trails that Mayan shamans and priests once traveled to reach these ceremonial chambers. Along the way, you will marvel at all of the Mayan artifacts, including obsidian ceramics, beads, and knives, even human skeletons that have been calcified on the limestone floor dating back 2,000 years.
Rio Frio Cave
If you visit the Mountain Pine Ridge area, Rio Frio cave is one you don’t want to miss. Stepping stones lead visitors into the cave’s mouth, which is more than impressive because of its sheer size. With its gaping entrance, this is one cave that is perfect for the nervous first-timer.
From the massive, 65-foot arches at both ends of this cave to the room-size, oddly colored boulders and huge chandelier-like stalactites hanging from the cave’s ceiling, the name of the game in this cave is big – everything is gigantic! Visitors are humbled by the largesse of the opening that beckons them forward.
Atypical for a cave system, you won’t need much help seeing what lies ahead – in the daylight hours, sunlight streaming through from end to end will light your path along this quarter-mile trek, though a flashlight could come in handy when choosing the best footing as you prepare to exit the cave. A shallow river runs through this cave, creating sandy beaches on both ends, a great place to rest.
This is one of Belize’s least physically challenging cave tours and is an excellent choice for first-timers.
Hokeb Ha – Blue Creek Cave
On a cool shady hillside near Blue Creek’s village is the Hokeb Ha Cave in Southern Belize’s Toledo district. The cave is about a 20-minute hike from Blue Creek’s village, and with the help of an experienced guide, it is a trip well worth making.
The scenery at Hokeb Ha is nothing short of breathtaking. Archaeologists have found many Late Classic ceramics and an altar inside the cave, leading them to theorize that Hokeb Ha was explicitly used for ceremonial purposes.
In this case, however, outside is as attractive as the inside – long vines hang from the sheer rock walls above the cave’s mouth. The vast cave entrance is carved from the summit of a hill where the Blue Creek gurgles up from underground. The creek runs out of the cave entrance, cascading over limestone boulders under the towering shadows of the surrounding rainforest.
This means, to enter Hokeb Ha, you’ll start with a leisurely swim through a pool of cool water at the cave’s opening, a refreshing and invigorating way to become one with the natural setting around you. While the rainy season may pose some difficulties in terms of cave exploration, when water levels permit, the one-of-a-kind memories you’ll capture inside makes this a must-see attraction.
Hokeb Ha’s journey is not very physically challenging, but explorers must be prepared to swim and hike.