Swimming through caves in Belize

The small town of San Ignacio on the Guetamalan-Belize border, is largely non-descript border town in all respects except one –  it’s home to an incredible series of caves known locally as ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal).

I heard about these caves from travellers I met in Guatemala and as I was heading to Belize, it fitted in perfectly with my plans. Situated in the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve 45 minutes outside of town, I knew it was going to an epic day out when we had to swim into the caves! And once in, we explored the huge chambers and  beautiful limestone formations by walking / climbing / wading / swimming.

What makes these caves fascinating is that they are a Maya archaeological site, and an incredibly well preserved site at that. So well preserved in fact that National Geographic recently voted it the 1 Sacred Cave destination in the world and there are many  artefacts to be seen as you explore the chambers, including pots and utensils.

The caves are also home to a number of skeletal remains in the main chamber!  The best-known is the skeleton of an teenage boy, whose bones have been calcified to a sparkling, crystallized appearance. The guides provide fascinating insight into the Maya culture and if you find yourself in the area, make sure you add this to the itinerary.



Practical Information

I booked my tour in town and went through MayaWalk Tours , a ‘co-friendly, family owned, local tour operator based in San Ignacio’ that’s been operating for almost 20 years. It’s a full day’s activity, with lunch provided, and in my opinion a unique experience that’s worth the money.

Featured Image Photo Credit – AlternateAdventures.com

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