Belize Caving & Cave Tubing

Belize, a land filled with many natural wonders, beautiful and unspoiled. Apart from the turquoise seas, the sandy beaches of the many islands dotted off our shores and the rich blanket of rainforest that spreads across the country, there is a world yet to be explored beneath the surface.

Discover the secrets of the ancient Mayas tubing through an underground realm exploring majestic caves, known as the Mayan underworld. This cave tubing adventure is done several places in Belize, including at the Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve. Visitors can experience a journey of a lifetime into a dark but mysterious place and learn about the Mayas who utilized these caves from as early as 300 A.D.

Millions of years ago, most of the landmass of Belize was covered by a broad and shallow, tropical sea. One of the major rock types deposited in this sea was limestone, a rock formed of calcium carbonate. This limestone can be origin either from biological materials like dead corals and mollusks, or in some cases the limestone can be precipitated directly from the seawater.

Like the modern Gulf of Mexico, this shallow Cretaceous sea was occasionally subject to violent storms that disturbed the floor of the sea. These storms created a distinctive type of limestone rock called a breccia. Breccia is a rock that is made up of angular pieces of other rocks. In the cases of the rock at Caves Branch Cave, the angular pieces of rock are called ìrip up clastsî. These are pieces of rock several inches on a side that were torn up and jumbled about before the clasts or pieces had a chance to harden.

This distinctive rock is very easy to dissolve. Almost all limestone is soluble in a dilute solution of carbonic acid. Millions of years later, these Cretaceous limestones were uplifted on the northern flanks of the Maya Mountains. The central core of the Maya Mountains is formed of older crystalline volcanic and metamorphic rocks (quartz, granite, shists). After these mountains were uplifted, water would run off the crystalline rocks, and come into the outcrop of the Cretaceous limestone.

As the rainwater fell through the atmosphere, it would react with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. After the rain fell into the soil on the crest of the Maya Mountain, the water would absorb additional carbon dioxide from decaying plant material. The rainwater turns into a weak acid, which then reacts with the limestone rock eroding away creating caves.

Archaeological investigations in Caves Branch Cave indicate that the ancient Maya utilized the site for several hundred years. Between 300 and 900 A.D., they made regular pilgrimages to the site in an effort to petition their gods to nourish their fields, to provide bountiful crops, game and sustenance, and to request stability in a very volatile world.

To both the ancient and modern Maya, caves represent entrances into the underworld. Known as Metnal or Xibalba, caves served as the abode of powerful and capricious gods, and were both places of death, and of creation. Deities that influenced life and death, those that controlled rain, and agricultural fertility, all resided in these dark, mysterious but sacred places. To ensure that the rain god Chac would bring life giving rains, it was expected that people would provide him with prescribed ritual offerings. In caves where the quality of preservation is excellent, archaeologist have noted that offerings often include agricultural produce such as corn, chilli pepper, cacao seeds, and pine needles. Some caves have ceramic censers with preserved copal incense that was burnt during important ritual events.

Want to know more about the Caves of Belize? Then go to Belize Caving and Cave Tubing Adventures.

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