Swimming through deep water at the entrance of the ATM Cave

Attempting to determine out whether or not it is worth it to do the ATM Cave tour in Belize? You have come to the right place!

Following years of listening to about the legends of the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (ATM Cave or Cave of the Stone Sepulcher) from my partner, whose household lives in Belize, I at last went on the Belize ATM Cave Tour on my latest monthlong trip to Belize.

Even although I did intensive analysis ahead of likely on the cave tour, there were being so lots of matters I did not comprehend about it until eventually I was essentially in the cave.

I’m sharing all about my knowledge in a series of a few ATM Cave articles about no matter whether the ATM Cave is well worth it (this one), what to assume on your very first ATM Cave Tour, and what to put on in the ATM Cave.

In this posting I’m determined to enable you figure out if this exceptional Belizean expertise is something you really should in fact reserve. Entire transparency, I really don’t believe ATM Cave is value it for everybody, and if you are uncertain about it at all, continue to keep examining!

Images by Mayawalk Belize

Note: This article could incorporate affiliate backlinks. As an Amazon Affiliate I receive from qualifying purchases through these backlinks, at no cost to you. But really don’t fear, I only share goods I’d definitely propose to a good friend.

🇧🇿 My Prime Belize Suggestions 🇧🇿

🦈 Coral Reef Snorkeling & Diving: Regardless of whether you stay in Caye Caulker, San Pedro, or Hopkins, be positive to guide a guided snorkeling or diving practical experience on Belize’s gorgeous barrier reef!

⛵️ Drive the Hummingbird Highway: Belize’s most scenic drive connects the Cayo District to the Caribbean coastline. Chase waterfalls, swim in a cenote, indulge in community chocolate, go caving, and flavor Belize’s well known sizzling sauce together the way. My tutorial to the Hummingbird Freeway.

🌲 Escape to Mountain Pine Ridge: Commit a day—or a week—cooling off in the mountains in the vicinity of San Ignacio, where you’ll find hidden waterfalls, amazing caves, and lavish eco-resorts (I endorse being at Gaia Riverlodge or funds-pleasant Kane Villas).

🏺 ATM Cave: Dare to investigate the famed ATM cave method, wherever you will swim upstream right until you find rooms with hundreds of Mayan artifacts and human continues to be. Guide this special tour in advance as this expertise sells out.

🥾 Learn Ancient Ruins: There are significantly more Mayan ruins listed here than you could ever assume. I recommend a working day vacation Tikal (UNESCO Planet Heritage Internet site) in nearby Guatemala, a river cruise to Lamanai in Northern Belize, and/or a visit to Xunantunich in close proximity to San Ignacio.

Is the Belize ATM Cave value it? Execs and Cons

As I stated higher than, I do not think the ATM Cave is a little something that everyone should do. That becoming said, I experienced an extraordinary time on my ATM Cave Tour (the correct 1 I went on), and would propose it to most of my buddies.

Motives to do an ATM Cave Tour

★ You are intrigued by Mayan heritage and want to see hundreds of Mayan artifacts, additionally human remains
★ You take pleasure in adventurous things to do and get psyched about swimming by a cave, squeezing by limited passageways (optional!), and pushing yourself a tiny bodily
★ You may be a very little anxious about it (I was!) but know that discovering the ATM Cave with an English-speaking guide whose carried out it 1000’s of periods will put you at simplicity
★ You’re curious about why some individuals journey all the way to Belize just for this experience
★ You don’t brain reserving a entire day for the ATM Cave considering the fact that it can acquire a even though to get there are you are going to spend a number of hrs in the cave, then eat lunch, right before returning to your lodge in the late afternoon or early night

Reasons to Skip the ATM Caves in Belize

★ You have mobility challenges, or are really do not really feel ready for the actual physical challenges — climbing up slippery rocks, swimming via chilly water (with a life jacket), hiking 45 minutes by the jungle, etcetera.
★ You are not fascinated in archaeology, caves, and Mayan heritage
★ There are a lot of other points you want to do in Belize, and a full day devoted to the ATM Cave would experience like a squander of time to you
★ You’re inclined to claustrophobia

You may also be intrigued in: Cave Tubing in Belize (a extra chill cave adventure!)

Crystal Maiden skeleton at the ATM Cave in Belize

Photographs by Mayawalk Belize

What can make the ATM Cave in Belize unqiue?

There are tons of caves in Belize, and you may well be asking yourself why the ATM Cave is so well-liked.

The main motive why the ATM Cave is so unique (and worthy of traveling to for lots of men and women) is that its the most available put to see Mayan artifacts and human remains, suitable wherever they have been remaining in the cave.

A minor context: Mayans considered their gods resided in the caves techniques, and so caves have been considered to be the Mayan underworld.

In situations of desperation, these as through a brutal 100-yr drought—the ancient Mayans would enter into these caves to carry out rituals and offer you sacrifices immediately to their gods. Regrettably, evidence indicates that human sacrifice grew to become the norm and some caves in Belize have skeletal continues to be from hundreds of people today.

With a accredited guide, you can see some of these human continues to be, and heaps of artifacts, in the ATM Cave.

But that is not the only purpose an ATM Cave tour is these a unique experience—to attain the cathedral space that holds all the artifacts and stays you have to go on an Indiana Jones kind experience up a river that operates by means of the cave.

Before even receiving to the entrance of the cave, you have to hike 45 minutes as a result of the Mayan jungle, with river crossings along the way.

Even though you can check out other caves in Belize, the blend of historical past and experience of this unique knowledge is a thing you will not locate any where else.

Pots broken in the Belize ATM Cave

Photographs by Mayawalk Belize

My Encounter of the ATM Cave: Anticipations vs Actuality

Heading with a great guideline makes all the variation

I always compare excursions on Viator to make positive I ebook with the ideal tour corporation achievable. For the ATM Cave, I ended up going with this tour and I am now assured I created the appropriate decision.

Our guideline was named Hugh and he was certainly one particular of the very best tour guides I’ve ever experienced in all my travels. He helped us join what we were looking at in the ATM Cave—the human stays and pottery—to the more substantial photo of what was heading on in the Mayan world back again when they ended up making use of this cave.

I never want to spoil something, but in brief, the destruction of their natural surroundings led to a 100-year drought, which led to desperation, which led to sacrifices.

Hugh also went earlier mentioned and outside of to make guaranteed we felt harmless and have been properly taken care of through the expertise. I noticed tourists from other groups battling to climb slippery rocks and navigate the cave, but our guide gave us obvious instructions each and every one time we experienced to do something complicated, which produced all the distinction.

Additionally, Hugh experienced been in the ATM Cave countless numbers of moments so there was by no means a instant I felt unsafe or uncertain.

If you’re evaluating diverse tour firms and guides, I remarkably endorse you go with this tour, and ask for Hugh as your guide. You will thank me later!

The ‘Crystal Maiden’ skeleton is just the idea of the iceberg

Before traveling to, most individuals know about the effectively-preserved skeleton dubbed the ‘Crystal Maiden’ (nevertheless most professionals imagine it is a male).

But what I did not understand ahead of my tour with Hugh is that there is a great deal a lot more proof of human activity (and yes, human sacrifices) in this cave past the popular skeleton.

For the duration of your tour you are going to stroll earlier hundreds of clay pots and other ancient artifacts that are scattered about the cave. You are going to also see several other human remains—skulls, and different bones. And what is even crazier is that new continues to be and artifacts are getting discovered listed here all the time as sediment shifts and various layers are exposed.

Hugh advised us about other caves in Belize where hundreds of skeletons have been found, and that there are possible dozens—if not hundreds—of human sacrificial stays that however haven’t been learned in the ATM Cave.

So if you—like me in advance of my ATM tour—are wanting to know no matter whether the ‘Crystal Maiden’ is just someone who wandered into a cave by prospect, relatively than a target of human sacrifice, get the tour and see for yourself!

The cave was a lot extra crowded than I predicted

Only 125 folks can enter the ATM Cave every single working day (which is why you have to reserve ahead of time), but despite these constraints, I discovered the cave to be fairly crowded.

Although navigating up the river we did not come across many other groups, which was good, but there were being a great deal of individuals when we essentially reached the part of the cave exactly where the skeletal remains and artifacts are.

This would make perception, as the ATM Cave is one particular of the most well-liked things to do in Belize, but it is essential to retain in brain that you will be sharing this one of a kind practical experience with heaps of other travelers.

There were lots of (optional) restricted squeezes and other caving surprises

Some persons (like me) adore the occasional limited squeeze when caving, whilst other folks undoubtedly really do not.

I predicted the caving at Actun Tunichil Muknal cave to be identical to my other caving exercise—there is one particular way in and a person way out.

But as we journeyed up the river as a result of ATM Cave our guidebook available diverse alternatives relying on our interest. Our group often chose the much more adventurous option—like squeezing through tiny passageway. On the other hand, I’m positive others appreciated the much easier options!

On our way back to the cave entrance, our guides led us down a tube that was basically a purely natural waterslide!

Not bringing a camera turned out to be for the most effective

You are not permitted to deliver any electronics (such as telephones, GoPros, cameras, and so on) into the cave.

Considering that capturing excellent pics of the places I go to in the course of my travels is a massive component of my task as a journey blogger, I was a bit bummed about this at initially.

But once I was in the cave, swimming as a result of the h2o, scrambling up slippery rocks, and navigating past large tour teams, I recognized it would have been a big problem to try out to take any images at all. What’s additional, most cameras (together with the GoPro I would have brought) would not be ready to capture something in the dark cave.

So, as it turns out, not becoming equipped to bring a digicam is not a large offer in any respect, at the very least for me! And of training course it will help that the tour I went with (this a person) routinely sends you qualified photos of all the web sites in the cave soon after your tour so you can clearly show your mates and household all the outrageous things you saw!

Quite a few of the stalagmites and stalagmites are harmful, but not simply because of tourism

If it weren’t for my manual, I would have assumed that the destroyed stalagmites and stalactites in ATM Cave ended up thanks to fashionable tourism. As it turns out, the 100-calendar year drought that I stated just before prevented their development.

It is surely fascinating that we can see the impact of a drought that took place hundreds of a long time in the past. Luckily, there are some balanced crystalline stalactites and other cave formations you can see, together with the destroyed ones.

Actun Tunichil Muknal ATM Cave Tour

Shots by Mayawalk Belize

Basic ATM Cave Details

Price tag

You are only permitted to check out the ATM Cave with a licensed guideline. The expense of a tour does not range considerably, and you can expect to shell out about $125 for each particular person, which contains all the needed entrance expenses, a helmet with a flashlight, a everyday living jacket (depends on the organization).

ATM cave locale

The ATM Cave is situated inside of Belize’s Tapir Mountain Character Reserve, concerning Belmopan, San Ignacio, and the Mountain Pine Ridge.

Wherever to remain if you want to check out the ATM Cave

The great news is you can entry the ATM Cave on a working day vacation from practically everywhere you go in Belize. Nonetheless, if you want to be close to the ATM Cave, here are a number of places you can stay:

San Ignacio: Most ATM Cave tours go away from San Ignacio. Keep at Falling Leaves Lodge ideal following to the Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins.

Mountain Pine Ridge: My preferred spot to keep in the Cayo district! Continue to be at a tranquil lodge in Belize’s tranquil mountains. Gaia Riverlodge is the very best, and Kane Villas is an great finances-helpful remain. Continue to keep in thoughts you will have to push into San Ignacio town to fulfill your tutorial for the ATM Cave.

Other Jungle Lodges: Remain at 1 of the numerous wonderful jungle lodges in the Cayo district. Maintain in brain that most ATM tours will depart from San Ignacio city. A handful of superb options incorporate The Lodge at Chaa Creek and Ka’ana Resort & Spa.

Also See: 7 Unforgettable Stops Together the Belize Hummingbird Freeway

So, is the ATM Cave truly worth browsing?

If you are prepared for all the adventures that a journey by he cave tour involves, the ATM Cave is unquestionably truly worth checking out! The blend of caving, swimming, and archeology tends to make it these kinds of a exclusive working experience. Even if you’re a small nervous, I urge you to check out this the moment-in-a-lifetime cave tour! That remaining explained, if the ATM Cave does not appear like a very good suit for you, that’s okay! There are a good deal of other pleasurable things to do in Belize.

If you have any inquiries about the ATM Cave, do not hesitate to go away a remark on this report or send out me a DM on Instagram!

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