Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
The Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave, popularly known as ATM Cave or the Cave of the Crystal Maiden. This is one of the most spectacular ceremonial Maya cave sites in Belize. ATM Cave is located in the country’s western Cayo District. Most noteworthy, the ATM Cave has been featured by Lonely Planet, National Geographic, the History Channel, and dozens of documentaries and magazine articles.
Due to the sensitive nature of the relics within, only tour groups accompanied by a licensed guide may enter the cave. After an invigorating hike through the jungles of the surrounding nature reserve, participants will arrive at the spring-fed pool that guards the entrance to the cave. Participants will pass through the water barrier and enter a hidden world that escaped detection by European colonizers in centuries past.
The interior of ATM Cave soon opens up to a large cavern filled with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites. The ancient Mayas carved a large ceremonial altar in this area. You can also see several other artifacts nearby. After wading through a subterranean river, participants will climb a series of ladders to arrive at the solemn heart of the cave complex. Once here, one can see jade axheads, obsidian knives, food offerings in ceramic bowls and pots, and even the remains of sacrificial victims.
The Crystal Maiden
The most famous attraction in ATM Cave is known as the Crystal Maiden. The bones of a young female adult have slowly fused with the minerals in the cave. This fusion gave the remains a unique sparkle that shimmers in the torchlight. The remains of other sacrificial victims lie nearby, include several from very young children. Archeologists believe that the ancient Maya gave the ultimate sacrifice of human blood to their gods during the Post-Classic period. During this time there was widespread famine, warfare, and civil unrest.
Amber Sunset Jungle Resort has been taking guests on tours of ATM Cave since it was first opened to the public in 2012. We are committed to preserving the important historical artifacts in situ. Consequently, future generations will be able to enjoy and study the cave.
Due to the sensitive nature of the remains in the cave, no cameras are permitted. In addition, visitors are required to remove their shoes before entering the cave to minimize damaging the interior environment. Participants need to be in reasonably good shape in order to explore the ATM cave. Participants will need to bring a change of socks and a towel. Headlamps and other necessary equipment will be provided.