Caves were very special places to the ancient Maya that once dominated Belize. In the Maya religion, caves were portals or connections to the world of the gods and were used by priests to conduct very sacred ceremonies, including human sacrifice. Black Orchid Resort in Burrell Boom, an approximately 15-minute drive from Belize City, offers exciting cave and cave tubing tours to see archeological sites that contain Maya remnants and artifacts more than 1,000 years old.
Here are three top cave tours we recommend to our guests:
This tour is very unique because it begins with a leisurely canoe paddle up the Barton Creek until arriving at the cave mouth. Once inside, participants will see undisturbed Maya artifacts, including pottery and the remains of human sacrifices made by Maya priests more than a millennia ago.
Perhaps the most famous cave in Belize, Actun Tunichil Muknal (called ATM for short) draws its name from a Maya term meaning “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher” because of the strange altar found in its depths. Once inside, participants will get to see the infamous Crystal Maiden, the skeleton of a young adult whose bones fused with the cave’s minerals and now emits an ethereal glitter.
To reach this cave, participants perform a 50-minute hike through somewhat steep terrain in the jungle. From there, participants will use ropes to descend 15 feet into the Crystal Cave. Once inside, the cave expands, revealing enormous caverns adorned with the sparkling stalactites and stalagmites that gave the cave its name.
Whether you’re interested in a quiet and peaceful trip along a subterranean river or a more thrilling underground adventure, there is a cave tour for everyone. The ATM Cave is also a popular attraction because it has several intact skeletons and ritual daggers that were used as a human sacrifice to the gods more than a thousand years ago. For adventurers who want even more underground thrills, Black Orchid has a special extreme caving tour to explore the area around the village of San Jose Succotz.