Tucked into a limestone ridge in the Upper Macal River Valley of the Maya Mountains in Belize’s Cayo District is Che Chem Ha (Poisonwood Water). This quarter-mile dry cave was first discovered by William Playtez, ranch owner and tour guide, while harvesting Xate leaves in the 1980s.
Accessing the cave involves a 40-minute drive on an unpaved road and a 35-minute hike along jungle-lined trails. Once in the cave, journey into the underworld – Xibalba – through nine levels using ladders and ropes. View ancient altars and undisturbed artifacts, including the largest ceramic vessels recorded in caverns, some of which are set high above the floor level and are accessible only by ladders. The descent into the ceremonial chamber is worthwhile as it displays the silhouette of a woman carrying a pot carved into its stone wall.
Upon exiting the cave, continue hiking for approximately ten minutes through farmland to a 214 feet waterfall. Climb down a steep incline and take a refreshing dip after a half day of hiking, climbing and even crawling in one of Belize’s leading caves.