Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Stone Sepulchre) dubbed by National Geography as the top sacred cave to explore in the world; should be on your bucket list! Your journey starts from ……. in air-conditioned comfort until your arrival at the ranger outpost. Here, our guides will provide you with a helmet, headlamp, and life jacket if needed. When geared up, it’s now time to hike, wade and swim the sacrificial Mayan underworld of the ATM. There are 3 river crossing and a 30-minute hike, which will bring you to an hourglass entrance. From here, the cave system spans approximately 3 miles with stalactites, stalagmites, jarring boulders and freshwater streams from ankle to waist-deep.
After an hour of spelunking, you’ll arrive at the ceremonial area, and squeeze through an orifice which opens up into a large football field cavern. Here you’ll remove your shoes. Walking bare feet, deeper into the underground surrender will unearth untainted Mayan history dating back 1-1000 AD. Pottery, ranging from intact to completely shattered; tools, ceremonial items, and the skeletal remains of 14 bodies on display, from finger bones to skulls, among other skeletal remains, fused to the bare ground within a few feet steps.
The cavern ends with the main chamber where the calcified to sparkling crystallized remains of the “Crystal Maiden” lays, 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 easily hike, swim and climb. 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. It’s good to have a pair of socks with you for the portion of the tour that is done bare feet as alluded to above.
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, 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.