Ask any traveler who visits western Belize what are the five most popular tours in the area and they will say The ATM Cave, Cahal Pech Maya Ruins, Xunantunich, the Mountain Pine Ridge and Barton Creek Cave.
These five tours have been popular over the years because they truly immerse travelers in the natural and pristine beauty of the Cayo District.
Actun Tunichil Muknal ( ATM CAVE)
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 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.
The ATM Cave is definitely an experience of a lifetime!
Cahal Pech Maya Ruins
Cahal Pech is located on an imposing hill that overlooks the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena. The name of the site means “Place of Ticks” in the Yucatecan Maya language. This name was coined in the 1950’s when the area around the site was used for pasture.
The site consists of seven plazas and over 30 structures including temples, residential buildings, ballcourts, an altar, and a sweathouse.
Note: The Royal Palace of Cahal Pech is a 5-minute walk from Cahal Pech Village Resort.
Xunantunich Maya Temples
Xunantunich meaning “maiden of the rock” or “stone woman” in Maya, is situated on the Western Highway across the river from the village of San Jose Succotz. It can be reached by ferry daily between 8 am and 5 pm. This site is less than one mile from some lovely rapids of the Mopan River and provides an impressive view of the entire river valley.
Note: Xunantunich can be combined with Cahal Pech Maya Ruins.
The Mountain Pine Ridge Nature Reserve
The Mountain Pine Ridge Nature Reserve is the oldest of Belize's natural parks and encompasses a spectacular range of rolling hills, peaks, and gorges formed from some of the oldest rocks in Central America.
The Reserve is comprised of 300 square miles of unpaved roads and nature trails. The top attractions in the area are Rio on Pools, Big Rock Waterfalls, Rio Frio Cave and Hidden Valley Waterfalls.
Barton Creek Cave
Barton Creek Cave is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Cayo District. In addition to its natural beauty, the site contains a wide range of cultural remains that were left within the cave by the ancient Maya. Artifacts, hearths, modified cave formations, and human remains were deposited on ledges above the river indicating that the cave was of great ritual importance to the ancient settlers of the region.