Paddle into the Mayan Underworld
Hidden in the dense green jungle in the Maya Mountains sits the unique Barton Creek Cave, known as the world's 9th most unusual cave destination. Located only 45 minutes away from San Ignacio, this site is a perfect place for fun and adventure, and the cool turqouise water at the entrance of the cave is enough to convince any visitor. The Barton Creek Cave is only accessible by a two man canoe; where you can travel at least one mile into its chambers and get a chance to see some artifacts, sacrificial human remians, and even get a chance to wade through some passages- if you're brave enough.
Discovered in 1970 by Peace Corps volunteers, Barton Creek cave is one of the most popular places to visit in the Cayo District, and the largest subterranean sites in Belize. Atleast 5 miles have been surveyed, with an additional 5 miles yet to be explored and mapped. Known to the ancient Mayans as “xibalba” meaning place of fear, this underground cave was used mostly for sacrificial purposes. Along the ledges of the cave, you can find many priceless artifacts such as: weapons, pottery, jewelry, food offerings and at least 28 human remains of both children and adults. Archaeologists have dated these artifacts to the Classic Period (200 AD to 900 AD).
The area is also home to two small Mennonite settlements: Upper Barton Creek and Lower Barton Creek. Most of them migrated from Mexico or the United States simply looking for a peaceful place to live. They prefer living off the grid, away from the modernistic ways of the world. You may get a chance to see them on horse and buggy taking fresh produce to sell in town or the nearby villages.
The Barton Creek cave tour is usually halfday (lasting 4 to 5 hours) , so you can choose to go early in the morning or after lunch. Departing from San Ignacio, we take a right off the western highway in Georgeville heading towards the mountains, driving under the jungle canopy, through a small creek and on to the property. Your guide will hand out gear (a life jacket and helmet with lights), a canoe and give you a short briefing of the cave and what to expect. Once inside the cave, you get to turn on your headlights for this unique experience. Enjoy the fresh cool smell of the cave while paddling into cathedral-like chambers with century old stalactites and stalagmites all around. About a mile in, you'll get to see artifacts and human remains on 10 ledges along the cave. Your guide will give you a full history about these amazing findings and explain more about the mayans and their way of life. If you want to see further into the cave, and if you are a true explorer; you can swim through passages and go explore where most travelers haven't been before (with a guide). After the tour, you can choose to swim in the area at the mouth of the cave, or simply relax in the cool jungle atmosphere.
Since the Barton Creek is a half day tour, you can pair it perfectly with another tour, let us know your interests. Another option is to do the tour in the morning, and have a picnic lunch in the jungle, which is a perfect idea for a hot sunny day. This tour is rather relaxing, anyone can be a part of this amazing adventure. However, if you are afraid of the dark or narrow spaces, you can gladly contact us for more information before you make a decision. Our guides are well trained and knowledgeable about the cave and all safety procedures.