Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Visit
The Actun Tunichil Muknal cave has only been open to the public since 1998. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to see up to 1400 artifacts, including pottery, tools and vessels used by the Maya for a thousand years. Hike 45 minutes to the cave entrance, wade/swim through deep pools, past calcite formations, to explore this damp, dark place of ritual and sacrifice. With a helmet and headlamp, see the skeleton of the “Crystal Maiden,” a young girl whose bones have calcified over the past 1,100 years, making them appear to sparkle.
Included in this activity are entrance to the park, guide, lunch, helmet and flashlight. It is recommended to wear a bathing suit and shoes that can get wet as they will be completely soaked within the first 15 meters of entering the cave. Also, there is a portion of the cave where passengers will wear only socks, so it is necessary to bring a pair of socks. Bring a change of clothes to be comfortable on the way back from the excursion. Also, closed-toed shoes or sport sandal are required for this activity.
In years past, tourists have dropped their cameras and damaged various artifacts in this living museum. As such, NO ONE is permitted to bring a camera into the cave or the park.
Hike to the top of this impressive 9th-century Maya centre, set high on a natural limestone ridge, and admire the view of the Mopan River, Cayo District and neighbouring Guatemalan countryside. The tallest temple, El Castillo, is partially excavated and explored and there’s a unique stucco frieze on the east side of the structure. Discover why Xunantunich is Belize’s most visited site with intricately carved stellae, 25 temples, and well-preserved palaces.
Getting there includes crossing a narrow river by a hand-cranked ferry which shuttles you across! There is a small fee to enter the grounds and a guide can give you the lowdown on the site. If you would prefer, you can take a taxi (for extra cost) who will also cross on the hand-cranked ferry and drive to the site.
The last ferry across the river is at 16:30 (to return). Don’t miss it or you will have to swim back across the river!
Barton Creek Cave Canoeing
Strap on a headlamp, step in the canoe and paddle along an ancient Mayan waterway inside the Barton Creek Cave. Bring your camera to take memorable photos of cathedral rock chambers, stalactites and stalagmites. Upon return, opt to swim at Big Rock Falls.
Price includes entrance to the park, guide, lunch, helmet, and flashlight.
Hike through the lush subtropical forest to the entrances of remarkable limestone caves within the mountains. Jump into crystal blue waters, tube down stream, enjoy a cool swim in refreshing therapeutic cave waters in a natural pool formed between two cave entrances, float through some rapids, view sparkling cave formations and learn of cave geology and Maya history during the tour.
Wear a bathing suit and expect to get your clothing wet. Bring a change of clothes for the trip back and wear sport sandals or closed toe shoes.
Caracol Ruins Tour
Drive approximately 2 hours via the Noh Beh Ox Mu Road through the Mountain Pine Ridge and into the Chiquibul Forest Reserve to arrive at Caracol. Activity includes: park entrance fee, guide, and lunch.
Set within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, prepare to be wowed by Caracol. It’s the largest known Maya site in Belize and was once home to an estimated 180,000 people. The site was discovered in the 1920's by a logger looking for mahogany. One of its pyramids, Canaa or “Sky Place”, built in 800 AD and standing 43m (143 ft), continues to be the tallest man-made structure in the country. Bring your walking shoes, water and a sunhat because there’s lots to see here. Tombs, temples, altars, carved stelae and other stone monuments – it’s well worth the effort and easy to be impressed.
Choose from one of the 45 horses at Hannah's Stables and ride over farm trails and forested paths, all the way along the river to the Mayan site of Xunantunich. Enjoy a short guided tour of the site before taking a different trail back to the stables. Watch for native birds, including toucans and parrots, listen for howler monkeys, admire orchids and fruit trees and breathe in the fresh air of the Belize countryside.
Hannah’s Stables is 7km (4 mi) from San Ignacio. Opt to skip the visit to Xunantunich and explore the countryside instead.