Belize is known for being a country with delightful and adventurous natural venues to visit. This month we chose to give you an insight into one of our most popular full-day tours—ATM Cave! One term used to describe this site and ignite your interest: “Indiana Jones”.
The ATM Cave, also known as the Cave of the Stone Sepulchre, is the perfect tour for those who love challenge, history, and adventure. Located south of Teakettle Village, the tour begins with a 45-minute hike through tropical forests where you will witness a variety of wildlife and nature. Here, you will encounter the entrance of ATM Cave—an hourglass-shaped opening that will take you on a time-travelling experience to the underworld of the ancient Maya civilization.
To fully enter the cave, you will swim about 30 feet to reach the first level of this bi-level cave. This level consist of a 45 minutes hike in which water levels are sometimes only ankle high, then progresses to be chest high in some areas. Keep in mind that you are recommended to wear closed toed footwear, for protective reasons, as there will be cracks and crevices when the water is chest high and you won’t be able to see them. The next step of this awesome journey is climbing up a couple huge, connected rocks to get up to the second level of the cave, the dry ceremonial area. At this point, your guide will kindly ask you remove your footwear and remain in socks for two reasons: the protection and preservation of the artefacts and the rocks on the ground level.
During the next forty-five minutes of hiking, adventurers will come across the sacred part of the cave. This area is filled with hundreds of pots, tools, and ceremonial items used by the ancient Maya during rituals. A breathtaking sight! These artefacts played a major role in the Maya methodology. They were used to store blood of sacrificial victims and were characterized by small keel holes through which the deceased’s essence was believed to be released. Additionally, these pots were placed in the direction, of the god, to which the offering was directed to. Wow!
The main highlight of the cave is the “Crystal Maiden” remains—believed to be the skeleton of a young Mayan princess that has been progressively cemented to the floor and is now covered by a brown layer of calcite; thus the name given to her, “The Crystal Maiden”. This sacrifice is found in the deepest parts of the cave. According to the Mayas, prayers would be heard more effectively by the gods as they progressed deeper into the cave, closer to the underworld, which they called “Xibalba”.
This adventure has a lot to offer and specialized tour guides will enlighten you with wondrous archaeological, anthropological, and geological information throughout the tour. Don’t miss out on this UNBELIZEABLE experience on your next visit to Cayo! It’s SO worth it!
- Attire: short or long pants, closed toed footwear, socks, optional swimwear
- No cameras allowed!
- Moderate fitness required for this tour
- Full-day tour