Driving to The Che Chem Ha Mayan Cave in Belize
The Che Chem Ha Mayan Cave in Belize is an excellent place to experience the subterranean wonders which Belize offers.
Che Chem Ha Cave lies very close to the border with Guatemala. It is approximately 16 miles from San Ignacio in the country’s western Cayo District. Your guide from Amber Sunset will escort you to Benque Viejo Town. Then drive down a small road until you reach the turnoff for Che Chem Ha Cave.
Hiking to Che Chem Ha
Once out of the vehicle, participants will hike uphill for approximately 45 minutes. At the cave entrance, participants will enter a small hole and proceed down to the main tunnel. This tunnel stretches more than 200 meters (650 feet long). The cave houses Mayan pottery seen inside the Che Chem Ha Cave. These artifacts have lain undisturbed for centuries until a local farmer discovered the cave by chance in 1989. The Archeology Department of Belize manages the site even though, the cave remains on privately-owned land.
Inside Che Chem Ha
The Mayas used this cave for some of their most solemn ceremonies and rituals. It is evident by remains of sacred ritual objects found within the cave. Smaller chambers connect to the main chamber. These smaller chambers are accessible by ladders. Before entering the cave, participants will get a short history of the cave and instructions on how to preserve the integrity of the site and its thousands of in situ relics. Licensed guides will accompany guests and enter the cave.
An odd combination of high humidity and cool air surrounds the interior of Che Chem Ha. Lacking some of the impressive stalactites and stalagmites that can be found in other caves in Belize, Che Chem Ha is unique thanks to the large Maya carvings on the wall. Large ceramic vessels that were once used for storing holy water can be seen. Pots and plates are piled high within the numerous chambers, some have traces of decomposed offerings of corn and seeds inside.
The ancient Maya believed that caves like Chem Ha were where the world of humans could connect to the “underworld” or Xibalba, the world of the gods. The ancient Maya believed that life was on a vertical spectrum of 22 different layers where the faithful were rewarded by ascending higher and higher.
Archeologists have dated ceremonial offerings in Chem Ha to the middle of the Pre-Classic period all the way to the end of the Classic Period (roughly 900 BC to 850 AD), making Chem Ha one of the largest collections of sacred artifacts in Belize.