Che Chem Ha Cave: A Wonderland of Mystery and Artifacts
One visitor called Che Chem Ha Cave the antithesis of Barton Creek where one ambles into a cavern that’s free of physical challenges! On the other hand, a visit to Che Chem Ha isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a first-class adventure that includes a strenuous hike to the cave’s mouth, exploration of a wonderland of artifacts you won’t see elsewhere and opportunities to claim bragging rights after returning home with your exciting stories.
Che Chem Ha Cave
Che Chem Ha’s stalactites and stalagmites aren’t the most dramatic in Belize, but you won’t care once you begin to explore narrow passages filled with the largest stash of ancient vessels, plates, pots and lids found in Belize. From shards to large vessels, some retain original, artistic decorations. Walk further to discover ladders propped against walls that lead to shelves and chambers holding more Mayan relics, some of which still include ancient seeds and decomposed maize used to conduct secret ceremonies.
Why you should visit
This ceremonial center is an homage to the Mayan belief system, since caves were considered entryways into the afterlife where souls entered one of nine to 22 worlds where they spent eternity. But the supernatural won’t be your only memory when you hear the tale of how farmer William Morales chased his dog into a rock wall in 1989 and found the cave opening after clearing vegetation. The family still lives here and offers guests hospitality, so if you’d like to lodge and/or dine here, you can expand your cave visit into a cultural one as well.
Where in Belize is it located?
Che Chem Ha is near the Guatemala border and close to San Ignacio in the Cayo District. Drive 16 miles to the Moralez farm and family members can take you into the cave if you haven’t booked a tour company. Only certified guides may enter this cave to prevent looting and make certain the treasures of Che Chem Ha not moved to museums remain here.
When is the best time to go?
Come in late winter or early spring so you’re not inconvenienced by rains that can make the drive to Che Chem Ha a muddy trek, but if a little rain doesn’t ruffle your feathers and you want to save money, come during low season and peek into cave nooks and crannies knowing that you’re saving serious bucks.
Best way to get here
From San Ignacio or Benque Viejo Town, follow the Hydro Road about 5.5 miles past Poustinia until you spot a sign pointing toward a small dirt road that leads to the cave. There are several gates the way. Prepare to get out, open and then close them behind so you don’t let cattle escape to neighboring properties. If you’ve hired a tour service, you don’t have to worry about bumpy roads or getting lost.
Best way to experience Che Chem Ha Cave
Expect a physical challenge getting to the mouth of the cave during the 45-minute uphill walk on a “demanding nature trail.” No worries about being super human: your guide will insist on rest and water stops. You won’t be the first person to catch your breath upon seeing the cave mouth where splashes of exotic Mayan artwork welcome you. Proceed thoughtfully through the first chambers. Yes, you can climb low ladders to reach rock ledges—reason enough to wear appropriate shoes so you don’t slip. Expect to spend about 90 minutes touring the cave, and if you’ve been clever enough to book a more expansive tour, your inner archaeologist can meet your inner nature lover at Vaca Falls where a splashing waterfall and Macal River swim make for refreshing post-cave recreation.