ATM Cave Adventure
Forest Highlands, Belize
Actun Tunichil Muknal or ATM caves is one of Belize’s most impressive adventure experiences and a rare opportunity to see ancient Maya ceremonial sites and altars as they were and virtually untouched for centuries.
Begin with a 40-minute trek through the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve to the cave entrance. The underground stream flows out of the cave and it’s necessary to take a short swim into the cave (water depth is about 12 feet). About three hours is spent inside the cave and it’s necessary to squeeze through a labyrinth of dry chambers and climb over rocks to reach different levels. The rewards are worth it. Two small carved stelae are located above the stream, one carved in the shape of an obsidian blade and the other a stingray spine. On the next level lies the cave’s most famous occupant, the crystal maiden, a victim of ritual sacrifice from the Late Classic Period.
ATM Cave is only recommended for those of an adventurous spirit who have a reasonable level of fitness.