Belize Caves – What You Need To Know
If you think that Belize is an amazing place to visit above ground—wait until you explore the nation’s underworld. Primitive caves, shaped millions of years ago, remained behind after the sea receded. These deep caverns now attract scores of visitors curious about seeing places where Maya priests conducted secret rituals and paid homage to gods centuries ago.
An enduring faith
While the earliest Mayas brought with them only what they could carry, they brought with them something of higher value: their faith. Where better to undertake secret rituals and ceremonial rites than caves, believed to be entrances to underworlds where gods set the rules and man obeyed. Notes archaeologist Jaime Awe, “The Maya were cave-obsessed,” believing that every cave gave access to Xibalba, the underworld.
Places of worship
To obey and appease a pantheon of gods, rituals were conducted at these sacred sites. Some involved bringing tribute items. Others required sacrificing everything from bats to human beings. To create sacred dedicated space, petrographs were carved on some walls and all manner of artifacts, household goods, foods, and totems were brought to these ceremonies. Deep within the earth, priests led songs, prayers and tributes.
Belize’s most fascinating Maya Caves
–Actun Tunichil Muknal: Considered the most impressive repository of artifacts, this cave is home to the Crystal Maiden, an ancient skeleton covered with calcium deposits that cause her to sparkle in the light.
–Belize Caves Branch: This limestone enclosure is partly submerged, but that doesn’t stop tourists from floating into the cave on inner tubes for a glimpse of a world that thrived between 300 and 900 AD.
–Black Hole Drop: Known formally as Actun Loch Tunich, this cave has earned the nickname “mother of all Belize caves” because visitors must be lowered through the rain forest canopy and into the basin below.
–Che Chem Ha Cave: Trekkers hiking uphill to reach the cave mouth are rewarded by finding an extraordinary world of pottery, artwork and artifacts inside. There’s a reason repeat visitors call this cave a “full-power adrenaline rush”!
–Barton Creek Cave: Once a ceremonial center, this cave is accessed by canoe. The Mother Nature Network recently named Barton Creek one of 9 “most beautiful and unusual” caves on earth.
–Rio Frio Cave: Visitors love the easy access to this magnificent cathedral-like cave where stalactites are measured in yards not feet. Best visited during daylight hours if you hope to see every foot of this former burial site.
–St. Hermans’ Cave and Crystalline Cave: These two caves are in such close proximity, tourists often visit both. Located inside the Blue Hole National Park, each cave is distinct. St. Herman’s is best known for archaeological significance while Crystalline’s interior beauty captivates visitors.
Want to see them all? Nobody knows the caves of Belize as well as the folks at Barefoot Rentals and Services. Whether you seek transport to one or more caves, a guide to escort you and your party or a full-service experience, put yourself into the capable hands of Belize’s #1 touring entity and all you have to do is take in the magic!