Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
In the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (or ATM Cave for short) you get to explore both a natural wonder and an archaeological goldmine. ATM is a wet cave that the Maya believed served as an entrance to the underworld. They used it for ceremonial purposes, and left plenty of evidence behind.
- Duration: 8 hrs
- Available Days: Every day
- Schedule: 7:45 AM
- Inquire for Transportation
- Mobile Ticket Included
- Offered in English, Spanish
Your tour begins with a hike through the rainforest of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. Eventually you’ll reach the river that leads to the mouth of the cave. You’ll swim for a distance 15 feet (4.5 m) to the entrance. Once you’re inside the cave you’ll walk, wade, and climb to the main attractions, so be ready for some physical activity.
On your tour you’ll see Maya vessels and artifacts, as well as the remains of sacrifice victims. The most famous of these victims is the Crystal Maiden, a young female whose skeletal remains have fused with the sparkling material that forms the inside of the cave. The skeletons are in a part of the cave known as the Cathedral, which is named for its impressively high ceiling and ornate stalactites.
These artifacts and remains are not behind any type of barriers, so be careful and wear a headlamp instead of carrying a cumbersome flashlight.
Attractions VisitedActun Tunichil Muknal
Actun Tunichil Muknal is a cave that the Mayans used for ceremonial purposes, dating back to around 900 AD. According to Maya lore, Actun Tunichil Muknal (known locally as “ATM”) connects the world of the living to Xibalba, the Maya underworld. This cave served as the site of human sacrifice – archeologists have uncovered the remains of 6 children and several adults inside the cave. Historians speculate that the Maya intended these sacrifices to appease the gods of the underworld.
St. Herman's Blue Hole National Park
Located on the Hummingbird Highway 12 miles (20 km) southeast of Belmopan, St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park covers over 500 acres (200 ha) of rich tropical rainforest. The park, which is managed by the Belize Audubon Society, is home to over 200 bird species and a variety of wildlife, including howler monkeys, which can be heard regularly throughout the forest.
What to Bring
Headlamp, two pairs of socks, hiking shoes, waterproof clothes and/or a bathing suit, a towel, bottled water, and bug spray.
Roundtrip airfare on Tropic Air, transportation, park entrance fee, guided tour, and a light lunch.
Many of our tours and activities offer transportation pick up & drop off options from several locations and destinations. Options vary by tour, see “More Time and Rates” for full details.
Actun Tunichil Muknal cave is the doorway to Xibalba, the Maya underworld. This cave contains ceramics and human skeletons that have fused with the walls of the cave. The most famous of these remains is the Crystal Maiden, a skeleton of a young woman believed to have been a sacrifice. Her bones are now partially covered with the sparkling build-up of cave sediment.
8 hrsFrom $177
This tour will bring you to the top of a Maya temple, and then to the entrance of the Maya underworld. The temple is inside the Maya city of Xunantunich, which is located near the border of Guatemala. Its name translates to “Maiden of the Rock.” After you ascend the walls of its temple, you’ll continue the tour to the Cave Branch River, where you’ll follow the river into a series of caves that had intense spiritual significance for the Maya.
8 hrsFrom $168
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