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“Highlight of our trip”
Review of ATM Cave Tour

ATM Cave Tour
Ranked #1 of 47 Tours 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.
Kapolei, Hawaii
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Highlight of our trip”
Reviewed April 30, 2014

2 March 2014 Sunday: ATM tour pick up at 0800 from San Ignacio Hotel. Guide, Ian was only OK. From the reviews we were expecting more. We had one other person on the tour with us. Ian led the way thru the cave and gave some speculation Mayan stories. The bad side – he seemed in a rush, racing over bad roads and on the hike to the cave entrance, he was always 50 – 100 feet ahead of us. Rather than us speeding up to him, we kept at a comfortable pace. Also, at the start of the hike Ian said “ here, you can carry the backpack with the helmets, and told my wife to carry the life preserver”. He could have stated it more politely. We ate lunch in the parking lot vs at the cave entrance pool as was briefed by Onil. We passed one group on the road, one group at the cave entrance and one group inside the cave. We worried a little about bugs but there were no bugs and no mosquitoes. We met Dr. Awe (main archeologist in Belize) and a film crew at the cave entrance. We didn’t need the life preserver – we could easily have floated over the 1st 20 feet without it. Instead my wife ended up wearing the life preserver the entire time. Water depth thru the cave varied from 5” to 5 ‘. Rocks were slippery at times. Spaces were tight at times. I squeezed thru a passage with 4” to spare at my stomach and another space my neck touched on 2 sides as we slid thru sideways. We passed a woman who hurt her ankle and was sitting alone in the dark. Her group left her there and continued on and said they would get her on their way back. Orange tape marked the off limits areas that held artifacts such as bowls and bones. In the deepest part of the cave we took our sneakers off and proceeded in our socks – for preservation reasons. We climbed up to a ledge via a rock and a ladder to visit the cave’s full skeleton, the Crystal Princess. On the return trip we met Dr. Awe again, and asked him what it was like the 1st time he entered the cave. He told us it was like the 1st time a kid walks into Toys R Us, or for a man – if it was possible, it was like having multiple orgasms. After exiting the cave, instead of having lunch at the cave entrance pool, Ian had us hike 30 minutes back to the parking lot for lunch. The vegi burrito was very good though. Trekking thru the cave was tough at times (we're in our 60's but fit) but we are definitely glad we did it.

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
Thank Bob M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Seattle, Washington
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Double fun! Well worth it!”
Reviewed April 27, 2014

This was the first expedition that we did on our 1 week vacation in Belize and we felt it was the best experience overall! The hike into and through the cave was fun enough but then at the end of the hike through the cave you start seeing Mayan artifacts - pottery and the bones. The hike in culminates at an intact crystallized skeleton. We did the tour guided by Renan (of CAT) and he was very informative about the cave formation as well as the Mayan use of the cave. His pace was a little slower than some of the other groups but we relished the extra time for looking around and enjoying the experience. All four of us (me, my wife, our teenage daughter and her friend) all loved the adventure and highly recommend the experience!

Visited April 2014
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Thank Jeff B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
La Jolla, California
Level 6 Contributor
271 reviews
102 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 122 helpful votes
“Thrilling, Unique Adventure”
Reviewed April 24, 2014

Other than scuba diving, the ATM tour with Carlos the Caveman was our favorite Belize adventure, one my 78-year old mother are I are so happy we did (it was well worth the trip to get there) and one will never forget this. However, you should be in decent physical shape, be ok with hiking, sometimes in the mud, swimming, walking over and climbing rocks, being in small dark spaces at times, and being wet or damp for the entire cave tour. For ladies, I recommend wearing a long sleeved rash guard over a bathing suit top and fast drying shorts. Lycra shorts are perfect actually if you have them.

I saw the great reviews of Carlos the Caveman and made sure I signed up with him. We responded over a few days via phone and email and he was very reliable and told me the quickest way to get there, flying from San Pedro to Belmopan. We were picked up at the airport and driven to meet Carlos where we joined 2 other people on the tour. We were the only small tour which was really nice. We traveled about 45 minutes by truck to reach the site. Then hiked about 30-40 minutes, crossing 3 rivers, some as high as waist deep. Not only did Carlos the Caveman cut pieces of greenery/bark and encourage us to taste them, but he told us about the history and medicinal purposes of the plants, (anise for the heart and a plant which helps with diabetes). Once we reached the cave, we had to swim in with helmets and headlamps supplied by Carlos. Although my mother can swim, he gave her a life preserver which was helpful during the fresh water areas where we had to swim short distances.

Inside the cave was stallactites and beautiful ancient formations in the stone, plus skulls, skeletons and bones. It's quite impressive that the Mayans traveled so far to pray, fast and do other rituals. It was such a unique tour, one of the most special I've ever experienced.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank kathylynne1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Folsom, California
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Breathtaking”
Reviewed April 23, 2014

If I could choose only one attraction to visit while in Belize, this would be it. As we were hiking through the jungle on our way to the mouth of the cave, I was expecting your run of the mill tour. However, when we reached the ATM cave, I was blown away. The trek involves wading through water, hiking, crawling and taking in the history and beauty of this place. It is no exaggeration when I say this spot could bring tears to your eyes. My dream is to one day take my father to the cave. When we were little, we loved to make our own mini adventures and explorations, and this is another adventure only in such a grand scale. I felt like I was ten years old again. I say this with no drama or exaggeration, but the day we explored the ATM Cave is still one of the best days of my life, and forever will be. GO!!!

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank Alicia H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bloomington, Illinois
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Mayawalk Tour Company Provides excellent tours!”
Reviewed April 21, 2014

We stayed in San Ignacio, Belize the night before the day we planned to visit the ATM Caves. A friend had recommended requesting Martin as our tour guide through Mayawalk Tour Company located right in central San Ignacio. We spoke with Andrew at their shopfront, who was extremely professional and helpful. Since photography is not allowed in ATM, Andrew even emailed us photos from inside the cave within 24 hours of our tour. Andrew tried to get Martin to be our tour guide but he was ill. Instead we had Gonzo, who turned out to be the absolute BEST guide! He was studying archaeology and had actually helped with some of the excavation at ATM. He was extremely knowledgeable and professional throughout the entire tour. He made sure we were safe but also that we got the best tour possible, including a special surprise ritual about half-way through (snicker bars). We were able to take our time through the tour, spending almost 4 hours in the cave! Once we returned to the parking lot, we had a fabulous Belizean lunch that was included in the cost of our tour. The cost was comparable with other tour companies. I highly recommend visiting ATM while in Belize and definitely using Mayawalk with Gonzo as your tour. You will get your money's worth!

Visited April 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank Libby G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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