It should be on your bucket list to explore Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Stone Sepulchre), dubbed by National Geographic as the top sacred cave in the world! The journey begins when you arrive at the ranger outpost in an air-conditioned comfort van. Our guides will provide you with a helmet, headlamp, and life jacket if required. You can now hike, wade, and swim through the sacrificial Mayan underworld of the ATM. You must cross three rivers and hike for 30 minutes to reach the hourglass entrance. ATM’s extensive cave network includes freshwater streams, stalactites, stalagmites, and boulders.
As you enter the ceremonial area of the cave, you will squeeze through an orifice that leads you into an enormous cave about the size of a football field. Shoes are not allowed here. Walking barefoot deeper into the underground surrender will reveal untainted Mayan history dating to 1-1000 AD. The skeletal remains of 14 bodies, ranging from finger bones to skulls, are fused to the bare ground in a few feet. On display are pots, tools, and ceremonial items.
The cavern ends with the main chamber where the calcified to sparkling crystallized remains of the “Crystal Maiden” lay, believed to be the skeleton frame of a young woman who was sacrificed in a bloodletting ceremony to the “gods.” It is here you’ll turn around and retrace your steps to the cave’s entrance with only one question in mind: How do they allow you to do this?
Note: You don’t have to be extremely fit, but you should be able to hike, swim and climb quickly. Wear comfortable, lightweight clothing and shoes, or bring a pair of closed-toe water shoes. Sneakers can get heavy during the hike after getting wet. As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to have socks with you for the portion of the tour that is barefoot.
Keep your socks dry by placing them on the inside of your helmet. All personal items must be left in the tour van at the parking lot: extra dry clothes for after the tour, a small towel, tip money for the tour guides, and cameras. A few years ago, tourists dropped their cameras on one of the Mayan skulls and broke it. Due to this incident, cameras or cell phones are banned from the cave.
A small bottle of water or Gatorade and a light snack such as a granola bar to grub on before entering the cave. We do provide lunch and a drink; however, if you think you’ll need it, a little extra water and grub would go a long way.