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“Still have nightmares about this horrible experience.”

Actun Tunichil Muknal
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$110.00*
and up
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Caves from San Ignacio
Ranked #1 of 70 things to do in Cayo
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: This remote cave is filled with relics left over from the Mayans.
Little Rock, Arkansas
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Still have nightmares about this horrible experience.”
Reviewed December 30, 2011

My teenage boys and husband enjoyed it, but it was truly one of the most awful experiences of my life. I wish someone would have told me that you will spend 4 hours in a dark, wet, enclosed space with bats flying all around and that you climb straight up wet, slippery rocks with wet shoes. If you were to fall, it would be onto rocks and then into the mucky, waist deep water below. 

The guide said to be aware of snakes. I asked what was the plan in case someone got bit... And he replied, "Well, I'm not sucking it out!" and then went to another subject. In other words, there was no plan. I actually hardly ever saw the guide once we were inside the cave. He was up front telling people where to step, and I was about a mile behind having panic attacks. If you lag behind, you are on your own, at least with this guide. 

Then your reward, when you finally make it to the top, is to view the bones of a murdered little girl who was sacrificed to the gods. And then you get to turn around and do it all again, except downhill this time. 

If you are even the least bit claustrophobic, think twice before you go. If you don't like slopping around in mucky water with who knows what in it, bats flying around you in the dark, slithering on your belly to get between rocks, or climbing up and down steep, slippery, wet rocks, maybe this isn't for you. I wish someone had told me. 

Visited March 2011
Helpful?
38 Thank CraftyMomOfTwins
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Newcastle, Washington
Level Contributor
17 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Most adventurous fun we've ever had!”
Reviewed December 30, 2011

We had a wonderful time touring the ATM cave. As everyone else has said, this is really a unique experience! We had two families with kids ranging from 11 - 15 years of age and everyone had a fantastic time. Thanks to PACZ tours and Francisco our guide. One thing I wish I had known ahead of time is that you walk for quite a while inside the cave in your socks to try and lessen any impact to underlying artifacts. Take some socks you can throw away after! Also, be prepared to be wet and dry, wet and dry as you hike and explore the cave which has a stream running through it.

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
Thank LNeighbor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose, California
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Most awesome cave experience.”
Reviewed December 28, 2011

We went through a very rough bumpy ride to get to the point where you have to start hiking. Beautiful hike, wade through a river three times and you get to the entrance of the cave that is shaped like a hourglass. You swim through the entrance and there was water throughout the rest of the cave. Cathedral high ceilings, beautiful limestone formations, walking or swimming through the water, it was like an Indiana Jones experience and you wonder how the Mayans did it and what was it like for them and you almost feel like you are with them. Parts of the cave can be treacherous and a cave like this could never fly in US because of all the liability issues here. But, the beauty of the cave is in exploring through the difficult path and getting to the end where Mayans sacrificed people to Rain God to ask for more rains. At the end, you see about 4 skeletons and a lot of Mayan pottery that they used in performing the rituals. But, it is not the destination, it is the journey that makes this cave one of the most memorable. And we made wonderful friends along the way.

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
Thank soniee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Saint Louis
Level Contributor
15 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Do not miss this awesome cave adventure!!”
Reviewed December 20, 2011

This was the coolest thing we did in the Cayo! I'm in average shape and it was easy. We went with Pacz tours out of San Ignacio and Oscar was our guide. We wore our swim suits with a quick-dry shirt over, neoprene socks (designed for snorkeling fins), and wet/dry sandals that had a closed toe. Our tour provided box lunches for us. I would recommend bringing ziplock bags to put that lunch into (it came in a carboard box). There are pit toilets and changing rooms at the parking area on arrival. Bring a set of dry clothes and leave it in your vehicle for when you return. You take a 45 minute easy flat hike that crosses 3 rivers. The river crossings aren't hard but you will be waste-deep during the first one and about knee-deep for the other two. The river bottom is rocky but if you go slow, you'll be fine. After the 45 min hike, you reach a picnic area (w/ pit toilets). Have a snack there then suspend your backpack on a nail from the picnic pavillion to keep the ants out. Well, my pack got invaded by ants even though it was suspended (thus I recommend ziplok bags). Or make sure your back has zippers that lock closed tight (mine had the tiniest of gaps and the ants found their way in). Anyway, a small path leads to the mouth of the cave. Your guide gives you a helmet w/ lamp. You swim across the opening of the cave...the water is cold but not painful and it takes all of 30 seconds. There is about 15 minutes of navigating the cave that is slightly technical (but not scary or undoable by any means). The guide will say "put your foot here, turn like this, and step down". Then there is about 30-40 minutes of easy caving that involves walking through water that varies from ankle deep to chest high (or flat out swimming). All is very easy as long as you look at your feet and watch where you step! Then you begin a climbing section to reach the dry section of the cave. This could be a little scary for some but again, our guide told us exactly where to put our feet on the way up and even as a short overweight person, I had no difficulty. You take your shoes off for the dry section to avoid harming any artifacts in the cave. Having neoprene socks on helped since they were a little more cushioned. You spend time in the dry section examining Mayan artifacts. The last part of the dry section involves climbing a metal ladder (it's secure). As far as cave formations go, I've seen more impressive, but you can't beat the water experience, how impressively large this cave is, and the Mayan experience. The only light you have is from your headlamp so don't expect any fancy dramatic lighting effects. After your experience, you can change into dry clothes back at the parking lot in the changing rooms.

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
13 Thank Krobar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
122 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
“Absolutely worth the trip!”
Reviewed December 1, 2011

We were picked up after breakfast at our resort. My husband and I were joined by another gentleman, so it was a nice small group. Our guide, Francisco greeted us and made sure we had all the necessary items. NOTE: If you do this tour, bring old socks to throw away. We arrived in the parking lot of ATM in about 90 mins. Quite a few tour groups were also showing up with groups between 5-8 people. We headed out on the trail where we crossed the river three times (wear your water shoes). The water was calf deep in most places. The walk meandered through the woods (bring bug spray). After 45 mins, we were the first to arrive at an open area where we left our lunches and put on our helmets. Just a few yards away was the mouth of the cave. We took our pictures and then walked to the opening. You wade though the water and then swim inside. The water wasn't too chilly, even in November. The inside of the cave was AMAZING! Francisco kept us safe and helped us navigate the cave. You will be in and out of the water the whole time. The formations were neat and the Mayan artifacts were great to learn about. I would highly recommend this trip! Just make sure you are in good shape and steady on your feet. Towards the end of the cave, you are required to take off your shoes and walk in socks. The archaeologists want to make sure that people don't accidently step on the artifacts. Francisco has great stories, especially since he has slept inside the cave on a few occasions. After caving, you re-emerge and enjoy lunch under a cabana. When lunch is finished, you hike back out.

Visited November 2011
Helpful?
5 Thank cvkevents
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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