Anyone who’s ventured into the Cayo region of Western Belize has heard of Actun Tunichil Muknal. A sacred cave, a water-filled pool, and endless twists and turns deep into the earth.
The entrance to the Mayan underworld can only be navigated by a select few. Training is required, no cameras allowed, and these intrepid guides will make sure you have the adventure of a lifetime! The TripAdvisor reviews alone should make you want to hop on a plane immediately.
But if that weren’t enough, we grabbed one of our favorite adventurers who guides our dear guests through the spectacular underground maze that is the ATM cave to ask a few questions about what makes this place so universally beloved…
First, what made you interested in becoming a tour guide?
I decided to leave home at the age of 18 years old to work at an island resort but then noted that visitors were more interested in going to inland ruins and the jungle, so I decided to make the switch. The admiration of foreigners on our local culture has made me investigate our own heritage even more.
How many years have you been taking guests to the ATM Cave and what would you say is your favorite guest story?
In 2004, the Belize Institute of Archaeology gave their ATM cave guide training and 30 guides – including me! – were finally approved to do this tour. To date, my favorite guest story would simply be that no matter how old or how young you are, this will amaze you.
With the Cayo District considered to be the heart of the Maya Civilization, which tour would you consider to be the highlight and why?
I may be biased, but for me the highlight in the Cayo district is truly the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave. It is a combination on nature swimming and Maya cave ceremonies.
What makes the cave tour such a special tour experience?
The ATM Cave is truly unique since it was not disturbed for 1,300 years. The Maya called it Xibalba (“place of fright”) and the ceremonies were directed to the Rain God regarding agriculture. Just next to stalactites and stalagmites, hundreds of ceramic vessels with offerings were placed for the ancestors. This among many more sacred scenes makes this tour one of the most incredible experiences of a lifetime.
What should guests expect when booking the ATM Tour?
The ATM Cave is adventure and history unlike any other. It combines three river crossings, swimming and climbing over boulders, seeing excellent cave formations along with Maya ceramics and human remains. There’s something to excite every adventurer!
Indeed there is Elias! If we could give only one piece of advice to our visitors it’s that you shouldn’t miss ATM. It absolutely is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Ready to go on an exploration with Elias? Talk to our team to book your journey today!