ATM is an amazing experience! It was unlike anything we have ever done before. You would never see a tour like this open to the general public in many other places -- you can get so close to all the artifacts and interesting cave formations, and the cave itself is challenging. I have been in a number of caves in the States, and if parts of the cave are the tiniest bit challenging or there is a chance that a tourist may touch something, they restrict access to that part of the cave. Not so in ATM!
It is about a 45 minute drive from San Ignacio, then about a 45 minute walk to the cave (really easy walk -- just have to cross the river a few times, and depending on the time of year and your height, the water can most certainly be above knee level!). Then, once you get to the cave, the real adventure begins!
To address some concerns. If you are claustrophobic, there are some tight spaces, but they don't go on for very long periods of time (my husband is 6'4", and he was able to fit everywhere without too much difficulty). Heights make me a little nervous, so there were a few places where climbing over tall boulders or up passages with decent drops made me a little uneasy, but I am so glad I did not let it hold me back! Totally worth it! (Though, depending on your abilities, there do appear to be different route options within the cave -- some of them being more difficult.) Obviously, there is some swimming. You have to swim to get into the cave, then, because we were there during the rainy season, there was some swimming within the cave (and some optional swimming places -- you can either balance along an underwater ledge next to the wall, or just swim.... and the swimming is pretty easy).
We went with Patrick (with Belize Magnificent Mayan Tours), and he was fantastic! He was incredibly knowledgeable, and did a great job leading and helping us through the cave. Unlike some of the other guides we saw, he did not rush us through the cave, but really took the time to explain everything to us and point out some amazing details. We even walked through the semi-dark at one point (with only the light of the second entrance).
If you are in the area for a few days, try to plan the ATM tour first. It was closed our first day in the Cayo due to rain, but we were able to do it another day. People who saved it for last, or were only in the area for one day, had to miss it.
We had such an incredible time and were so glad we did this tour! If you're up for a bit of a physical challenge, it is an unbelizeable experience!!
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