ATM cave with Pacz tours and Renan
My husband and I went on the ATM cave tour with Pacz tours and had an amazing experience! We absolutely were blown away by the entire day.
First of all, hats off to Renan, our fantastic guide. He more than exceeded our expectations. Renan was one of the first guides to go into the ATM cave and has been working for Pacz tours since it opened. His knowledge of the cave and the artifacts is superb.
We were staying at Lower Dover in Unitedville which made us the last to get picked up on the way to the ATM. We were picked up by a very nicely air conditioned van. We shortly turned onto a rough road to begin our first leg of the journey. The van stopped at a snack shop so we could get water and snacks for the ride. We should have grabbed some extra plantains because we were starving by the end of the trip.
It was about a 45 min drive to the parking lot once you turn off the western highway. Once we parked, Renan advised us to bring very little with us. We left our dry clothes in the van and only brought with us our lunch, a pair of socks, and camera. beware.... The clothes you are wearing are going to get completely soaked. I advise guys to wear swim trunks and girls to wear their lightest clothing.
After packing our backpacks with the bare essentials and grabbing our helmets we were off. We had to hike about 45min to 1 hour, passing through 3 small creeks to get to the beginning of the cave. Thanks to Renan's knowledge and experience we made frequent stops to take photos and to listen to his stories. There were many groups ahead of us so Renan knew to have us take our time so we would not be stuck waiting behind another group.
Finally we reached the picnic area and Renan showed us the cave entrance! WOW! He told us we would eat lunch first so we could let the other groups clear out. Great idea because we were already starting to get hungry!
When finished we all began to put on our socks and helmets to get ready to enter the cave. I wore Keen sandals which were perfect for me. Others wore hiking boots and I think they may have been too big for this trip. The socks are for later in the cave but it is a good idea to put them on at the picnic area.
The cave adventure begins with a quick, refreshing swim across a small pool. Once on the other side its time to turn on the headlamps because it gets dark very quickly. Renan led us safely through the many twists and turns, stopping often to admire the various stalactites and stalagmites. You're often wading through ankle and knee deep water, but occasionally it's armpit deep requiring a short swim. There is a fun part in which you must squeeze your helmeted head through a crack before allowing your neck and body to follow. As the water begins to shallow, you suddenly find yourself climbing a large boulder to get to an upper shelf. It is here where you take off your hiking shoes and have on just your socks. At this part of the journey you are introduced to many of the ancient Mayan artifacts. Various sizes of clay bowls are scattered throughout the enormous cave and human remains are also visible. You continue just a bit further and must climb a ladder to a final shelf. It is here that you see the remains of a young Mayan female and another young Mayan boy.
The experience is quite breathtaking, albeit more strenuous than originally expected. Be sure to have your helmet snugly fastened because there were plenty of strikes on the low rocks. The trek out is much quicker although just as fun. Be sure to ask your guide to have everyone in your group turn out their headlamps at the same time. It is unbelievably dark.
Once out of the cave, you collect your belongings at the camp and start the hike out. Your clean and dry clothes await you at the van, and two changing rooms are available for your privacy. Our van stopped for a cold beer on the way back and it was a perfect conclusion to an amazing adventure. Hats off to Renan and Pacz tours!