Going Underground in Belize
Want to get under the skin of Belize? Blancaneaux Lodge has launched a series of caving adventures to take travellers deeper into this Central American land.
The lodge – one of Francis Ford Coppola’s hotels – sits in the Maya Mountains, surrounded by rainforest and tumbling waterfalls. Five explorations to nearby caves range in difficulty, and can be undertaken by everyone from beginners to more experienced adventurers.
Nervous cavers are advised to start with the Rio Frio Cave, which is blessed by plenty of natural light; while all four and a half miles of Barton Creek Cave – where pottery shards, ceramics and even Mayan remains are found – can be travelled by canoe. Cave tubing – floating through the caves in a rubber ring – is popular at Nohuch Che’en Reserve (the lodge starts its trips early in the morning to avoid the crowds). The lesser-explored Offering Cave at Noj Kaax Meen Elijio Panti National Park was once a sacrificial site, and contains tools and ceramics left by the Mayans.
But perhaps the biggest draw – especially for more experienced cavers – is the Actun Tunichil Mucnal in the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve. It is one of the most exciting caving experiences in the world. A 40-minute trek and a short swim brings travellers to the mouth of it, and the walk inside lasts three hours. The reward for clambering over rocks and through tight spaces is the chance to see a victim of ritual sacrifice, known as the crystal maiden, from the Late Classical Period (approx 550-700 AD).