There’s a reason ancient Mayas, priests, and acolytes chose underground caves as sites for their ceremonial rites, and National Geographic journalists sum up that reason most succinctly: “For the Maya, certain caves were considered the holiest places on Earth, part of a mystical underworld outside of normal time and space. Deities dwelled in these caves, and Maya priests communed with them there.”
Curious about the number of dank, mysterious caves that served as ritual centers? Social Scientist Logan McNatt’s 1999 thesis cites 300 of them in Belize alone, and given the pace at which archaeologists continue to excavate, there could be more by now. That stated it’s unlikely new discoveries will match the wonders of Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM), a site that's popular because it is filled with wonders.
About the cave and the journey to reach it
ATM is located near San Ignacio. It’s one of the few examples of underground Maya ceremonial sites that still contain artifacts and remains. Tourists are only admitted under the watchful eyes of trained, licensed tour guides, so before you can peek at treasures within the cave, you must sign up for a tour. One of the most efficient ways to do this is by booking a stay at Cahal Pech Village Resort, conveniently located next to an above-ground ruin of the same name.
Expect to emulate explorers who first discovered this cave as you travel to the site where you'll do a bit of hiking before engaging in a couple of river crossings that present a few minor challenges. Guests can wear life vests and hold on to ropes if they feel precarious before squeezing through tight spaces and climbing a ladder wearing socks to gain access to the cave. The journey is part of the fun and since only eight guests can tour ATM at a time, you'll receive lots of personal attention from guides.
Why staying at Cahal Pech Village Resort for Your ATM adventure makes sense
For tourists committed to immersing themselves in Belize’s ancient culture, booking accommodations at a resort that’s not just located adjacent to a major ruin but offering an impressive list of other ruin tours, guests can avail themselves of savings by choosing a Belize vacation package. Everything associated with your in-country stay is handled with a package as are meals, onsite amenities, and beautiful accommodations.
Cahal Pech offers a variety of packages associated with tours, so you choose the one that best fits your idea of the perfect vacation and the staff takes care of the rest. When you book, tell your host that ATM is at the top of your must-see list and start packing.
Don’t forget socks that are required in areas where pottery and skeletal remains are on display. You’ll wear a helmet with a light so you don’t miss a thing within the caves’ darkest recesses during the average time of 4 hours it takes to see everything. Sound like the kind of vacation that thrills and intrigues you? If your answer is yes, put it atop your Belize travel must-do list immediately!