Top caves to explore in Belize
Belize’s lush jungle, pristine barrier reef, ancient Maya cities and caves, rich culture, and natural beauty make it the perfect playground. Certainly, its diverse terrain results in a guaranteed destination for some fun, suitable for all levels of endeavors.
The entire country is riddled with so many caves, that we often joke about Belize having more miles of underground systems than paved highways. For the Mayas, caves were the refuge of malevolent gods who expected humans to offer them gifts, and in return, the gods would provide to mankind. Based on studies, caves were a site were ceremonies, trades and offerings would take place. Belize is home to an amazing underground world worth exploring, with a little for everyone to enjoy. There is a cave to explore no matter what your level of fitness may be! Take a look at our top picks & it’s intensity level.
Tiger Cave| Intensity: Easy
This cave, named as such because villagers once saw a dog chase a jaguar cub into the cave, is about an hour and a half hike from the village of San Miguel, in the Toledo District. The hikes to the cave pass through modern-day Maya farms and Milpas. Not many get to see this unique cave as it is on private land but it would be a great experience for those interested in going.
St. Herman’s Cave at Blue Hole National Park- Cayo District|Intensity: E
Located within the Blue Hole National Park, off the Hummingbird Highway, is St. Herman’s Cave. Start your adventure by getting suited up with a life jacket and a headlamp with an inner tube in hand. Make your way down a steep nature trail to the cave entrance. 200 yards away, making for an easy 15-20-minute walk in the jungle, you arrive at the entrance which spans 180 feet wide. Fed by an underground river, you can float peacefully through the cave, admiring the stalactites and stalagmites. Its superb geological structures surely make it a magical and easy adventure for many.
Hokeb Ha Cave (Blue Creek Cave)| Intensity: Moderate
This cave is in the village of Blue Creek. Ancient artifacts found at Hokeb Ha- meaning “where the water enters the earth”- show that the Maya used the cave specifically for ceremonial purposed the outside is an interesting as the inside-long vines hang from boulders above the cave, and the entrance is carved out from where the water bubbles up from the underground. It is certainly a breathtaking view and an amazing experience as you also get a chance to take a dip into a pool of water at the cave entrance.
Barton Creek |Intensity: easy/moderate
Located in the Cayo District, Barton Creek is, of course, one the easiest caves to explore as it is only accessible by canoe. Forming part of a riverine system, a tranquil river leads the passage for your exploration. The underground river extends for roughly five miles, with only the first mile open for public exploration. Nevertheless, within that first mile is where many treasures lie. On the ledges, you can spot remains of pottery, ceramics, artifacts, and ceremonial weapons, used for ritual and spiritual activities. Believed to date back to the early classic period (A.D. 200 to 600) to the Late Classic Period (A.D. 600 to 900), exploring this mysterious cave is a remarkable voyage in itself.
Actun Chapat and Actun Halal| Intensity: Easy
Actun Chapat or the Centipede Cave, are located 19 miles south of San Ignacio. They have man-made features-including terraces and raised platforms. Human remains and artifacts has been discovered here. However, it is currently a private cave and only a few visitors get to experience.
ATM Cave|Intensity: Advanced
The Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, situated in Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve in the Cayo District, is, in fact, one of the top 10 sacred caves in the world by National Geographic. A trip to the cave requires almost a full day starting off with a hike which entails crossing two flowing streams. Entering the cave requires a short swim at the doorway of the cave making for a refreshing dip. With the cave over 5km long, spend roughly 3 hours inside hiking through water streams and boulders. Crossing sacred ground by foot, you can see pottery and magnificent geographical formations. 600m into the cave evidence of human remains has been researched by archeologists. Lay your sights on a Crystallized skeleton, the “Crystal Maiden”, proof that Maya Sacrifice once took place in this sacred cave.
Caves Branch (Nohoch Che’ en)| Intensity: Moderate.
Caves Branch is right along the Hummingbird highway. This Float on an inner tube along the Caves Branch River as it takes you through this series of caves. This cave system consists of three cave which are the footprint, waterfall, and petroglyph. The names of each cave came from the view inside the cave. There are various pottery shards remaining as evidence of ancient Maya ceremonies in the cave.
Rio Frio Cave| Intensity: Easy
Located in the Mountain Pine Ridge area, Rio Frio is impressive just because of the sheer size of its chamber. The entrance has a phenomenal 65-foot tall arch that allows visitors to see the entire half-mile length of the cave. This cave is a natural attraction but appears as if it is create for visitors enjoy. It’s very easy to enjoy this cave and doesn’t take up a lot of energy. Perfect for those looking for a more relaxed cave to experience.
Che Chem Ha Cave| Intensity: Advance
Discovered by a gamer just outside of Benque Viejo del Carmen, Che Chem Ha- the cave of Poisonwood Water- Hold numerous Maya artworks and artifacts. The cave’s entrance is decorated with Maya motifs, and its interior walls are lined with large storage jars. Also, this cave is known for its unique Mayan artifacts and artwork. To start off the tour be ready to walk for 45 mins uphill to view the amazing artwork of the Mayas.
Furthermore, look out for part 2 of Belize- the playground of adventure which will feature waterfall excursions in Belize!
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Original Article by Louise Roe