The magnificent ATM Cave (Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave) is located on 455 acres in the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve in the Cayo District. It was recently named the #1 cave destination in the world by National Geographic, and is one of the “Top Things to do” when visiting San Ignacio in Western Belize. The entire tour consists of river crossing, trailblazing, a bit of swimming, cave spelunking and most of all, learning about the ancient mayans and their way of life. Be ready for a full day of fun, adventure and history as you explore “Xibalba” the mayan underworld.
The ATM Cave “The Cave of the Stone Sepulcher '', was occupied by the Mayas from AD300, and by AD700 they traveled deeper into the cave to perform ceremonial sacrifices to their gods. In 1996 the cave was officially opened to the public, and has since been one of the most popular tours in Belize. Apart from its century old cave formations and cathedral-like ceilings, the ATM consists of amazing artifacts such as ceramics, stoneware and skeletal remains. One popular skeletal remain is of a 13-year-old boy known as the “Crystal Maiden” that lays fully intact in the depths of the cave which appears to be calcified by centuries of weathering and natural processes. Fourteen other skeletal remains are found in the main chamber, some of them are children under 5 years old. These children were said to be the perfect sacrifices to the gods since they were young and pure.
Another popular piece in the cave is the “Monkey Pot”, containing a design that is found only on four other pots located in various sites in Central America. The ATM is filled with Pots, all shapes, sizes and colors. Many are still intact, while some seem to have been intentionally broken and marked with “kill holes”, possibly used for ceremonial purposes.
Over 1400 pieces of artifacts have been found in the cave including pottery, tools, vessels and weapons dating from AD250 to AD900.
The tour begins early in the morning and finishes a bit after midday. Once at the parking lot, your guide will give you a life jacket and a helmet with headlights for exploring the cave. You are not allowed to take any cameras or phones in the cave due to past incidents where a visitor dropped a camera and cracked a skull, and another visitor accidentally stepped on another skull.
The 45 minutes trail to the entrance of the cave begins with a cool swim across a river, hiking under jungle canopy and wading across beautiful streams. In the Cave, you get to walk, climb and crawl to explore each chamber and amazing artifacts. Upon arriving at the upper dry chamber (where you will see the crystal maiden), all visitors are recommended to remove their shoes and wear socks to decrease foot traffic impact. About 3 hours is spent inside the cave, conducted by our licensed and well experienced tour guide; then it's back to the parking lot where they will have a hearty lunch prepared for all our guests.
Are you ready for a once in a lifetime cave adventure? Claustrophobic? We would love to answer your questions about the ATM Cave. Join our daily tours and get to experience Belize at a whole new level.
Transportation in AC Vehicle from your hotel.
Licensed Tour Guide
Entrance Fees to Park
Things to bring Along:
A pair of socks.
NOTE: No cameras or any type of device allowed on this tour.