One of Belize’s premier tourism magazines promotes the country of Belize as having the best of two worlds, and surely so, as the marine and the terrestrial environments have so much to offer. Each of these natural environments are springboards to diverse exotic natural environments that are unparalleled to anything in this world. In the marine environment, a trip to Blue Hole, a coral island or the reef is enough to mesmerize you for days. A similar trip inland to any of the towns experiencing its culture and tradition, and tasting the food would have you marveling until you come back to Belize again. In Belize, however there exists another world seen and sometimes unseen, that is subterranean in nature called the underworld or better known to scientists as the Cave Systems of Belize.
The Cave Systems of Belize are filled with mystery, religion and tradition that spans the length and breadth of the country. In essence where there is a mound there may be a door to the unknown filled with the history of the ancient Maya World. Thus it is easy to understand why Belizeans will tell you that there is a cave everywhere and a Maya artifact in each of them. That may be a little exaggerated, but with some truth in it, the Belize Cave systems or the underworld is as vast as the lime rocks found all over Belize. It’s also the most extensive cave systems in Central America. It is said that in the Chiquibul reserve their lies caves with 25 miles of passageways discovered and many waiting to be discovered.
The mystic of the Maya is alive today among passageways and majestic chambers. Human remains of the ancient Maya, buried in ceremonial ritual and traditions, are found in most of the cave systems in Belize. Their most treasured possessions are buried in the caves and can be found today. In past days, religion played a key role in the lives of the Mayas. The Mayas found ways in communicating with their Gods in these caves. The Mayas nurtured the belief that these gigantic chambers and caverns were so magnificent and were made specifically in honor of their gods. The Mayas saw these passageways as gateways to the unknown, where the visible met the invisible worlds.
As the cave systems of Belize receive more exposure and more is known and discovered, they continue to be surrounded by magical and mystical characteristics. It’s unknown only helps to fascinate visitors. The mystic attributes of ‘Man and its God” alone plays to man’s natural hunger of the unknown and propels the caves to one of the highest point of interest for visitors.
Through the cave systems many creeks, rivers and streams run through it making it easy for various forms of rafting, trekking, swimming, inner tubing, kayaking and canoeing. This has made many of the major caves of Belize popular tourism sites. The experience is unique, as one has the opportunity to immerse oneself into an unknown world and sometimes see something that another human eye has not seen or experienced before. As archaeology is today, cave exploring and all related attractions will one day be a special interest product in Belize of such magnitude, that it will surpass tourism expectations.
These cave entrances are among the largest of openings with chambers and caverns each formed in its own time and space. Surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites and every form of columns and bases that form curtain like murals. When you explore the cave systems of belize it appears as though you are entering a cathedral of another dimension, carved by intelligent human beings over thousand of years with hand held tools not yet found in our modern marketplace. Then you realize it is only nature; only nature and its perfect timing and patience that has carved the celestial beings found in those confines of this other world.
The echo in the caves are phenomenal and makes you want to scream out your name over and over to hear it in the annals of the Maya underworld. Amidst spectacular walls of rock formations, that seem to protrude every cell of the cave, you look so small and insignificant. Rivers and streams add to the cave systems charm and mystic powers as you remember a strong and vibrant civilization living in its surroundings.
One of the most popular of all caves is the Rio Frio Caves in the Mountain Pine Ridge. All cave formations are different and equally magnificent in its own splendor, history and archaeological importance. Among the many visited are: The Caves branch River System, Actun Tunichil Muknal cave in the Tapir Mountain Reserve, The Barton Creek Cave, Tiger Cave in Toledo, Che Chen Ha Cave, a subterranean cave with artifacts and pottery 1000 years old.
Belize offers a unique experience and opportunity to immerse yourself in the rainforest through the portals of the unknown to experience adventure at its best. Come trek the narrow and slippery paths that lead you to gigantic chambers. Flow to the rhythm of the river or just stand still in silence of the caves and caverns as you take some breathtaking moments adding to your memories. Admire the greatness of the stalactites and stalagmites that were patiently constructed over thousand of years. Feel the chills over your entire body as you stand in front of calcified bodies in their burial grounds discovered hundreds of years ago. What ever your likes are, no matter your age or fitness level there is something in the rainforest today and its history of yesterday for each and everyone of you.
Belize offers many cave trips for the first time visitor and for the experienced and high-adventure specialists, interested in day and week long expeditions. Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company is one of the pioneers in this area of expertise. The Belize Institute of Archaeology exercises jurisdiction over most of the cave systems in Belize. A few minutes away from Caves Branch Caves and many of the other caves in the west, Amber Sunset Jungle Resort will arrange a variety of tours and expeditions to meet your most demanding taste and likes.
Natural splendor and Archaeological greatness. Do not miss it when you plan your next trip to Belize.
Written by: Pedro Perez