Take a road-trip from Placencia Village to one of the most interesting natural formations in western Belize: Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (ATM Cave for short). This is an all-day adventure that requires a good amount of physical fitness — you’ll hike, swim, and crawl to explore the depths of this cave. Once you clamber into the cave’s dark interior, it’s not hard to imagine it as the ideal location for dark rituals.
- 12 hrs
- Available Days:
- Every day
- 6:30 AM
- Inquire for Transportation
- Mobile Ticket Included
- Offered in English, Spanish
After your three-hour drive, you’ll stop embark on a 45-minute hike through the jungle of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve to the cave, which the Maya considered one of the entrances to the underworld. As you hike, your guide will be able to help you spot some of the interesting plants and animals that are unique to this part of the Caribbean, and you might see bats at the cave.
When you arrive at the mouth of ATM Cave, you'll take a break for a picnic lunch. Then, your guides will outfit you with the equipment you need for your spelunking adventure. Keep in mind that you will have to swim for at least a portion of this wet cave.
This cave is best known for the remains of a teenage sacrifice victim – after over a thousand years, her skeleton is covered in crystallized minerals. There are more skeletons in a chamber called “The Cathedral,” although these are less intact. You’ll also see bits of pottery that has fused with the cave. These vessels probably also had an important role in Mayan religious rituals.
Note: Bring an extra pair of socks! Guests aren't allowed to wear shoes in certain portions of the cave.*
What to Bring
Sturdy tennis shoes or hiking boots, comfortable & lightweight clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, bug repellant, camera, and money if you would like to purchase souvenirs. You must bring extra socks for the tour for use while in the cave site.
Transportation, Park entrance fees, drinking water, guide and a fine home cooked lunch. The guides will have dry bags for your camera equipment while in the cave.
Many of our tours and activities offer transportation pick up & drop off options from several locations and destinations. Options vary by tour, see “BOOKING REQUEST” for full details.
Similar things to do
Visit the Maya Ruin site of Lubaantun and then hike to the caves of Blue Creek. Located in the remote south of Belize is a magical 1300 year old Mayan ruin that is just waiting to share its story with you. Step into the past and imagine coming here as an early explorer, hacking your way through the jungle to the crumbling steps.
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.
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.