Belize Caves: Mysteries of the Underworld

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belize caves

Photo by Belize Tourism Board

Thousands of caves can be found throughout Belize that range from easy walks to challenging hikes.

To the Maya, caves were used to perform spiritual rituals like sacrificing to their Gods and bloodletting. The Maya also believed that caves were home of the gods and an entrance to the ever mysterious underworld. The underworld was called ‘Xibalba’ and its literal translation from Mayan language is ‘the place of fear’.

belize cave tours

Photo by Belize Tourism Board

In the Popol Vuh, it has been described as a court that lies beneath the earth’s surface and is often associated with death.

In Maya religion, Xibalba is also thought to be dead’s realm and the lowest among the 9 underworlds.

The Maya were Belize’s first inhabitants and caves were fundamental to their religion which is why Belize’s history with its caves is like the fate of soul mates, you can’t pull them apart.

caves in belize

Photo by Belize Tourism Board

Today, because of the lime rock matrix that occupies a majority of the landmass of the country, it is spattered with caves and one can’t think of Belize without thinking of its majestic caves. Some of the most extensive cave systems in the world are found just beneath the surface of this country.

If you want to travel back through time and enter the realm of Xibalba, then you have to explore any or all of the below caves to learn about the enigmatic and ancient Maya civilization.

ATM CAVE TOUR

The ATM Tour (Actun Tunichil Muknal) can best be described as an “Indiana Jones” type experience and visitors have the opportunity to view impressive stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave along with Maya pottery that have been undisturbed for hundreds of years. Your guide will reveal ancient passage ways and will share stories of Maya Gods and evidence of a Mayan princess burial scene.

BARTON CREEK CAVE

One of the largest river caves in Belize, Barton Creek Cave consists of giant passages covered with numerous large speleothems over a navigable river and these features of the cave have made it a popular cave tour in the Cayo District.

CAVES BRANCH CAVE TUBING

Cave tubing is one of the top tours to do on a Belize vacation. The Caves Branch tour will take you through the majestic Maya underworld where you will discover stunning stalactites and stalagmites formations, astonishing crystal curtains, fire pits, Maya ceremonial pottery, wall carvings, glyph writings and even skeletal remains of sacrificial victims.

ACTUN HALAL CAVE

The Cave, Actun Halal resembles an open air art gallery and has a 30 foot high vaulted ceiling with two huge entrances flooding the cave with natural light. Guests will walk back and forth in this comfortable, dry cave on the compact dirt floor and examine closely the numerous unique works of art within this natural museum.

If you are interested in exploring any of these caves, please contact us at info@cahalpech.com.

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