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“Don't Miss It” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal
Tea Kettle Village, Belize
625-6976
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Top Rated
$109*
and up
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Caves from San Ignacio
Ranked #1 of 62 things to do in Cayo
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Attraction details
Owner description: This remote cave is filled with relics left over from the Mayans.
Havre, Montana
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Don't Miss It”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2014

In a word- fantastic. The best tour in the Cayo district, no question. Normally the smell of caves nauseates us, but this cave is filled w water and I didn't see any bats, thus no smell. The combo of hiking, swimming, climbing, and viewing artifacts in their original location is experience unheard of today. No way this tour would happen in the states, you'd have to sign your life away via liability waivers and OSHA certainly wouldn't approve of the no hand rails, slippery surfaces, limited lighting, etc. Naturally, all of those elements make the tour a true adventure! I broke my wrist 4 days before the tour, and w a ton of help from the guide/our group was still able to make the trek. That said, its not for couch potatoes as its about 3 hours of physically demanding activities in tight spaces.

Visited June 2014
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Oak Ridge, Tennessee
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Truly fascinating”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2014

We had a small group, led by the knowledgeable guide Patrick Bradley, who trekked to and through the unique ATM cave. As we passed through the Tapir Mountain reserve (crossing a small river three times) Patrick pointed out all sorts of flora and fauna (we saw tapir tracks but no tapir). Once we reached the cave itself we were in for an interesting (and tiring) afternoon. We saw all sorts of interesting cave formations and ancient Maya pottery left in situ. Even more fascinating was the evidence of human sacrifices. Skeletons found in the cave, including one in a position indicating the person was hog tied before being killed. Once you reach the very end there is a full, calcified skeleton - the 'Crystal Maiden' after whom the cave received its modern name. Definitely a memorable experience you won't find just anywhere.

(But, if anyone in your group does not swim, is afraid of caves/dark, claustrophobic... it won't be for them. Also, wear quick dry clothes and good water shoes... we used crocs and all was well...)

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Taoyuan, Taiwan
Top Contributor
78 reviews 78 reviews
32 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
“Amazing tour”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2014

One of the best tours you could possibly book in Belize. I have been on the tour about 5 times and it truly never gets old. It can truly be of those defining moments of a vacation.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
13 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Unusual adventure at ATM Cave”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2014

I decided to do a day trip to ATM cave while my friend, who is claustrophobic did another adventure. For someone whose past cave experiences have been limited to upright, dry walking tours, this was a very different adventure.

First of all, you have to commit to doing this trip. From San Ignacio our group of 8 drove to the cave about 2 hours to pick up everyone and get there. Once there we hustled out of the van to get our gear and lunch.

My recommendation is to bring a dry sack to carry if you have one for lunch and also to wear thick ankle socks with light weight canvas hiking boots. Quick drying clothes and perhaps a swim suit or bike shorts under another pair of shorts and a t-shirt. It is cool inside so I would not go sleeveless.

Soon after we started we forded a stream, 3 times in total each way so you will get wet right away and your lunch may also. It is about a 3 mile +/- hike to the cave entrance. Climbing down the rocks to the entrance, we swam in and regrouped.

Once we rounded a curve in the water, darkness started to envelop us and became deeper and as we worked our way further into the cave. I was the oldest in our group (slightly over 50), shortest and plumpest. It was a bit more of a chore for me to find footing and was more difficult when we climbed up the rocks about 20 feet to a ledge before we entered the cavern to see the ruins and sacrificial remains.

Coming down I was very glad to be wearing a swim suit under my clothes as my shorts got caught on a rock as I was reaching my leg to find footing down, oops!

The whole adventure inside lasts about 3 hours, we had to wait a long time for 2 groups ahead of us to climb down from the crystal cave. The ladder to go up was a bit frightening as the ropes holding it to the rocks look a little frayed and it moves as you climb. You really have to have faith that it is all safe and you will get in and out without incident.

When we climbed down, all the other groups had left the cave and with the less light and no one there it was very eerie. You have to wonder how and why the Mayan made their way on bare feet with only torches through the waters to climb up and find this cavern. With no lights you would be lost forever in the darkness.

It was a physically demanding and totally unique experience that you can only get in another country. In the US tours like these would be banned or it would be so altered from it true creation with blasted walkways in the floor, lights and handrails and maybe piped in music. It's a rare treat for non-spelunkers to be able to do something like this and while it was a bit hard for me, it is an experience I will always remember doing. But you need to be able to walk about 6+ miles, swim, climb and hold your bladder to do this tour.

Visited May 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Alamitos, California
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Exciting!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 23, 2014

We read about this tour in the books we purchased and were excited to go. We were not let down at all. It was very exciting, and even a little scary at times. Wear clothing you can get wet in and shoes you don't mind getting wet either. At the end you need to remove your shoes and walk on some rocks, so be prepared. Would do this tour again, again, and again!

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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