Explore deep caves, wade through high water, and encounter ancient Mayan relics and remains at the world-famous Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre. Ranked #1 Sacred Cave on Earth by National Geographic, the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre is an outstanding and emotive archaeological site. Explore the cave and connect with ancient history up-close!
Explore a rugged cave system and encounter an ancient Mayan sacrificial chamber on this tour of the Actun Munichil Muknal (ATM) — the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre — known to the Maya as the Place of Fear. Located within Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, this outstanding archaeological site was only discovered in 1989, and has quickly risen to prominence as one of the most important sacred caves in the world — ranked #1 by National Geographic.
This challenging hike will lead you through tight passages, high water, and — at times — require you to swim for short distances. But the hard-to-reach chambers are immaculately preserved. You’ll encounter ancient Mayan relics and human skeletal remains dating back over 1000 years, including the sparkling skeleton of the Crystal Maiden, whose calcified exterior glistens in the dim light.
Thanks to cooperation by the Belize National Institute of Culture and History and the Belize Tourism Board, the cave is open to a small number of local tour agents in an effort to balance preservation and promotion of the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre’s spectacular history.
Your tour will begin with hotel pickup to the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. Upon arrival, you’ll hike lush jungle trails along a lazy river that leads to the cave entrance — approximately 45 minutes.
Inside the cave, you’ll wade up river to reach the sacrificial chambers. You will get wet, and depending on the the water level, you may need to swim for short distances. Your trail guides are highly trained, dedicated to safety, and work to ensure there are no “surprise steps” into deep water. After an hour of trekking through the cave, you’ll arrive at the ceremonial chambers.
As you arrive at the Place of Fear, your guide will offer a fascinating explanation of Mayan history, culture, and religion. But be prepared for an impactful experience. Maya believed that blood sacrifice was necessary to keep the universe in balance. In the chambers, you’ll encounter skeletal remains of sacrificial victims ranging in age from the elderly to very young children. Additionally, you’ll find pottery, ancient tools, and other symbolic relics as a reminder of the complex ceremonies that accompanied these sacrifices.
Among the skeletal remains, you’ll encounter the Crystal Maiden. This young woman was once a sacrificial offering to the Mayan gods. After a resting for over 1000 years in the cave, her body has become calcified and sparkles in the light.
When you’ve thoroughly explored the sacrificial chambers, you’ll venture out of the cave and return to the trailhead at the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve visitors center. Here, you’ll have an opportunity to change your clothes in private facilities for a comfortable ride back to your hotel.
Minimum 2 persons
Difficulty level: Moderate to difficult
Departure time: 8:00 am
After you book your experience, you will receive a confirmation email from us confirming that your payment went through. You will then be connected directly to the tour operator, in case you have any further questions. We are also happy to answer any questions about the tour, or travel in general in your country of destination.