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“Rude and Dangerous”
2 of 5 bubbles Review of ATM Cave Tour

ATM Cave Tour
Ranked #1 of 46 Tours in Cayo
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Actun Tunichil Muknal “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher” or ATM Cave as it is locally known is located in the heart of the Belizean Rainforest. A 45 minutes hike to the cave, You will cross the Roaring River on three occasions and the return hike on that same trail. This cave offers a unique, eerie experience as it was once use by the Ancient Maya. It hosts a variety of skeletons, the most famous is the Crystal Maiden, ceramics and stone tools. This cave offers a unique, eerie experience as it was once use by the Ancient Maya. You will learn the history of this cave and the rituals that were conducted in the cave. From bloodletting to human sacrifice, and other rituals that occurred in the cave over one thousand years ago.
Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Rude and Dangerous”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 5, 2012

Whe we booked the trip wewere told it was going to be guided by carlos panti, and if that was the case then im sure everything would have gone great. When we got there hehad to big a group and were told we were going with another guide. We are pretty easy going, so didnt complain. That was a mistake. Our new guides name was"DANNY" put in caps so you dont forget that name. His demeanor and abrasive nature set off my intuition not to trust him and ask for another guide, but didnt. I suggest if you get him, dont make the mistake we did....demand another guide before you go down into the cave. His impatience and rudeness is only amplified once inside the cave and now you have to trust him. The cave was awesome and we somehow enjoyed it despite him constantly yelling, yes yelling at us to hury up, stop looking around, etc. Come on, we came there to look around, we freaken tourists. It was especially so bad that he almost left us before we got in the cave. Once in the cave, my poor wife was having trouble keeping up and she fell after getting yelled at by him to hurry up. She cut up her leg on the slick rock and he yelled at her for looking around. I yelled back at him that he was moving to fast and we arent in a hurry, its not safe...not 20 minutes later he turned and snipped at her for being slow and needed to catch up. I lost it on him and told my wife not to listen to a anything he said, we will take our time, and i know the way out. We went to back of the group and split off. I didnt want to look at him, but did want to sacrifice this little punk to his mayan gods. Never get conned into going with Danny. Never, never, never.

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
9 Thank Jeremiah G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Saratoga, Wyoming
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“ATM cave tour with Elias Cambranes”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 5, 2012

No Matter what you read on line, and I read plenty before going on this trip, this will still be way more intense and adventurous than you'd thought. If you've ever wanted to feel like Indiana Jones in a real life adventure then this trip is for you! This cave is massive and an amazing and intense hike. Unlike attractions in the US which have stairs, railings, lights, evacuation signs, disclaimers and 500 warnings of danger, with a 30 minute breifing before you can enter, this cave is just how it was 1000 years ago when Mayan priests were swimming in with flaming torches for sacrificial offerings, and that's what makes it soooo cool. We have young kids, and whilst this is only for fit, strong, active, and somewhat brave kids this will be an adventure they'll never forget. Elias is one of the longest serving guides in the area, and whilst not the chatiest guys he did a great job and it was obvious our safety along with the safety of the cave, and its artifacts were #1.

This is one of the best excursions you'll ever make - enjoy!!

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Pete M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“Wonderful experience with the best guide”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 3, 2012

We traveled to Belize in November 2012, and did an extensive research about the best guides for the ATM tour. Based on numerous positive reviews, we chose Carlos Panti as our guide, and I believe it was the best choice we could make.

The tour itself is very extraordinary, perfect for adventure seekers who wish to experience one of the best activities in Belize, and was one of the most unique tours we’ve had in the past. It begins with a 45 minute trek amongst the jungles that includes wading across 3 rivers, where Carlos talked about local flora and fauna and shared his passion for local environment.

Afterwards, we entered the ATM cave, which consists of a series of chambers, ending in a large Cathedral where sacrificial ceremonies took place hundreds of years ago. What makes the cave truly extraordinary, is that here visitors witness a living museum where the skeletal remains and artifacts can be viewed in their original setting.

While climbing through sometimes very thin cave pathways and viewing out-of-this-world beautiful formations, Carlos explained very interesting facts about Mayan presence in this cave, it’s importance for their religion, theories about the collapse of Mayan civilization, and combined it with unique moments such as shutting off the lights for several minutes to appreciate a complete darkness deep underground.

In addition to his passion and knowledge, a tour with Carlos is a wonderful experience because of his charming personality and sense of humor. This especially helped me have a great time since the tour itself was beyond my comfort zone. However, in the end I was extremely happy I did it!

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
Thank Yuliya_A5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Marcos, California
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“ATM Adventure”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 15, 2012

We were fortunate to have found Mayawalk Tours in Belize who arranged our three tours. All were exception events with the ATM Cave standing out as an unforgettable experience. Actun tunichil muknal cave was spectacular by itself but our guide Aaron from Mayawalk made it even more of an adventure. This tour is NOT for the faint of heart. You need to be in reasonable shape and not afraid of heights. Highly recommend this adventure and Mayawalk

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank jwohler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Marcos, California
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Surpassed Expectations”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 12, 2012

My fiance and I have both traveled quite a bit. We are adventurous and active. But nothing could have prepared me, or us, for this experience of a lifetime. Expect to be awed by the experience.

Expect to be challenged if you have any fear of heights, fear of the dark, or if you are claustrophobic. I am only afraid of heights, but I can't say that I wasn't nervous squeezing through a few of the openings in the rocks to get through to the next chamber.

Expect to be wet for hours - I took an extra shirt and put it in a water tight baggie to have if I got cold. I was okay, but another woman's teeth were chattering so I gave up my dry shirt. I wore a lightweight, long-sleeved ExOfficio shirt that was perfect. It kept me warm, and dried really, really quick. Long shorts or capri are probably best to wear for leggings. I had some Mountain HardWear climbing pants that were good except for the fact that they gathered around the ankle and acted like sails in the water, making it difficult to swim and/or move through water.

Don't wear water shoes unless they have a full, thick sole. Typical ones for the beach aren't think enough for the rough terrain inside. My fiance had a good water sandal with a closed toe. I wore a light-weight hiking shoe. Bear in mind that you need to be able to swim with the shoes you wear, so they shouldn't be too big or heavy.

I had a one piece bathing suit on underneath my clothes and that wasn't the best idea. You really don't need a bathing suit at all. Because we had only one outhouse to use before we began our 4 hour trek to the cave, the bathing suit was actually inconvenient.

Expect that you will cross 3 streams before you come to the entrance of the cave where you will need to swim with all your gear/clothes on!

Expect to see jaw-dropping natural formations in the cave.

Expect to free-climb some rocks in pretty precarious fashion.

Expect to be awed by the vast amount of pottery and bones deep into the cave.

Expect to hold hands with those going in the cave with you. You will need help at some point or need to help someone else over dark, treacherous, slippery rock. (I am totally surprised no one has broken a leg in there and would be more horrified if it happened since it would be incredibly hard to get a rescue team in and out - no cell reception in there!)

Expect to become respectful Xi'balba - the Sacred Underworld - and what the Mayans would do for Chaac - the God of Rain.

And a final note, we had utmost respect for our guide, Aaron, at Mayawalk Tours. He had volunteered with the archaeologists that first explored the cave in 1996 and was one of the few guides permitted originally to take people through the caves. Since there were so few that passed the national exam to become a guide, Belize finally lowered it's standard and let everyone who took the test pass (32) and become guides. Since the first test, the government has not allowed anyone else to get their specialized permit to be a guide to the cave.

Expect to pay more for tours through hotels. It was going to be $350 BZ dollars per person at Blancaneaux Lodge, versus 1/3 that at MayaWalk! And, our guide Aaron actually did the Blancaneaux tours from time to time! Same person, but 3 times the cost!

And on a final note, if you enter the cave late in the day like we did, prepared to come out at 8:00 at night from the dark of the cave to a 45-minute hike back in the dark through the jungle and crossing 3 rivers! That was an adventure too.

Only regret? We weren't allowed to take cameras in due to someone dropping a heavy camera on a skull and breaking it.

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
5 Thank sherylmb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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