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“Best Attraction in Belize”
Review of ATM Cave Tour

ATM Cave Tour
Ranked #2 of 33 Nature & Parks in Cayo
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
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.
Reviewed February 18, 2014

I spent 9 days in Belize with half the time inland and the other half on the cayes. The whole trip was amazing, but this was the one thing I wouldn't trade for anything else. It's a must do activity. Carlos was a great guide and everything about it was fun, adventurous and interesting.

1  Thank Brian M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"mayan artifacts"
in 61 reviews
"atm cave"
in 101 reviews
"once in a lifetime"
in 46 reviews
"wear socks"
in 30 reviews
"indiana jones"
in 35 reviews
"water shoes"
in 44 reviews
"human remains"
in 32 reviews
"crystal maiden"
in 28 reviews
"rock climbing"
in 23 reviews
"an adventure"
in 38 reviews
"carlos panti"
in 23 reviews
"three rivers"
in 11 reviews
"amazing experience"
in 32 reviews
"physical condition"
in 12 reviews
"tight spots"
in 18 reviews
"open to the public"
in 8 reviews
"short swim"
in 16 reviews

614 - 618 of 824 reviews

Reviewed February 15, 2014

What a rare opportunity to step inside a museum in its natural setting. The artifacts here are left untouched from 1,000-plus years ago. How amazing. As our guide said, if this was in the US, you'd be looking at everything under glass. Here you stand right next to it with only a red ribbon tacked to the ground to keep you from stepping on the artifacts.

Beyond that it is a nature challenge to get through the pools and boulders that block access to the inner chambers. I'd most like to address the question everyone but the young seems to have -- can I do this? The answer is more in the head than in the body. I am reasonably fit, but there were a couple of spots early on where I wondered if I could make it. But there is no way I couldn't see what lay ahead. So an adventuresome spirit probably is more important than fitness, especially if you have the right guide.

The guide certainly is important. I was with a group of 15 so we had two guides (limit 8 per guide). I made a point to go with Patrick simply because I could understand him better than the other guide. Patrick was very respectful of the cave and his guests. He told us early on that safety was his first priority and if someone got hurt he would be helping them and the tour was over. That encouraged everyone to be careful and to be helpful to the others on our tour. And Patrick, too, was always looking to help everyone make the right step.

Patrick also was very knowledgeable and gave a great tour, but a sidelight tells more about the type of person he is. I had stuck a couple of bandanas in a small waterproof pouch in my pocket to clean my glasses inside the cave. When I got inside the cave I had found it apparently had floated out of my pocket on the swim in. My glasses never got wet and I didn't need the bandanas, but I was disappointed I lost them. Back at the parking lot Patrick told me I had dropped the pouch in the cave and he stuck it in his dry bag. I know he was holding on to it to prevent me from losing it again and he probably was thinking I was littering in a natural wonder. A lesser person would have given me a lecture, but he just said he wanted to return it to me.

My point is, if you are adventurous and have a guide who puts his guests first, the challenge of this cave is doable for anyone of moderate fitness. It's unfortunate that you usually can't pick your actual guide. I got lucky as my resort set up the trip, but I'm expect there are many guides who have the right approach to make the trip work for most people.

Other reviewers have adequately expressed the experience of this cave. If you can get there, you must do it.

Thank RoyalB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2014

Carlos the Cave Man was the highlight of our trip to southern Belize. He is passionate about preserving Maya culture & the Belizean environment. His guided tour to the ATM cave was a spectacular experience. From learning about jungle plants to history of the cave development & explanation of the Maya artifacts in the cave, the tour was a memorable, fun (wet & somewhat muddy) experience.

Thank Barbara P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2014

This is by far the most amazing thing I ever have and probably ever will do in my entire life, and I've had my fair share of adventures! On top of the amazing archaeological significance and wonders of the cave, which are incredible and mind blowing, you have the opportunity to go on an amazing jungle trek, swim into and through an incredible cave system, and literally scramble up and climb cave formations (BEST part - and I'm an Archaeology student). It is an unreal once in a lifetime experience and worth every penny. Like I said in the title, please do not hesitate to go, I'm very grateful that I had the opportunity. Only warning: San Ignacio definitely knows how to party, but be thoughtful of how much trouble you get into the night before, because it is a long BUMPY ride out to the trailhead.

Thank Denise L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 11, 2014 via mobile

Amazing experience, a highlight of the trip. Nothing between you and undisturbed 1000 year-old Mayan artifacts except a thin orange plastic ribbon laid on the ground. The absence of cameras made the experience even better (no posing, flashes, jockying for good photo angles etc.). We booked with Carlos, but he was busy or overbooked, so Carlos handed us off to Danny "Lord of Darkness", who was very good as a guide. Very knowledgeable, helpful, careful with the clients and the artifacts.

I agree with the practical advice of the other recent reviewers:
* must be in reasonable physical condition for the hiking, swimming climbing
* don't bring valuables (though for our tour, the driver stayed with the vehicle at the trailhead to protect everything you leave in the car)
* start out wearing what you are going to wear for the hike/cave experience. In a bag or backpack, bring a change of clothes and a towel to change into for the drive back out from the trailhead to your hotel. The clothes and towel stay in the car at the trailhead.
* bring a separate backpack to carry lunch and water from the trailhead to the cave entrance. At the cave entrance, that backpack will hang on a nail under a thatched roof gathering area while you are in the cave, along with a bunch of other backpacks. Seems most tours provide lunch and water but you have to carry it. Check with your tour operator. * You will be wet for the whole hike/cave experience. There are three river crossings on the trail, and you are in varying levels of water for most of the cave experience.
* wear Tevas or equivalent, or running shoes that you don't mind getting wet and dirty. Closed toed footwear important.
* Bring or wear socks. I wish I had worn thicker socks or doubled up, since you spend about 30 minutes walking/climbing around the artifacts, including climbing an aluminum ladder, with just socks.

* use the toilet facilities at the trailhead. They are good, and it will be 4 or more hours before you get back to here. You will not want to use the facilities at the end of the trail at the entrance to the cave. They are way bad, though you can go elsewhere near the entrance to the cave to "water a tree"

1  Thank Ahhboo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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