Barton Creek Cave is an enormous subterranean structure located in Belize’s western Cayo District. With a gently flowing creek running through its interior, Barton Creek Cave has an estimated 6.4 kilometers (four miles) of charted passageways and an additional eight kilometers (five miles) that have yet to be mapped.
Although other caves in Belize have their own rivers or creeks flowing through them, only Barton Creek Cave has a gentle stream that makes navigating its enormous, twisting passages easy for visitors in a two-person canoe. Beyond the unique experience of sailing through the inky depths of the cave, Barton Creek Cave offers visitors the chance to see enormous stalactites and beautiful mineral structures that sparkle in the light of a flashlight or head torch.
Guided tours of Barton Creek Cave include viewing some of the sacred objects left behind more than 1,000 years ago by the ancient Maya, including pottery, food offerings, jewelry, ritual objects, and the human remains of more than two dozen people who were sacrificed in a desperate attempt to appease their angry gods. Archeological work is still ongoing inside the cave, slowly revealing important clues to the downfall of the mighty civilization that once ruled from modern Mexico all the way down to El Salvador.
Participants wanting to explore the twisting labyrinth of Barton Creek Cave need to have no fear of tight spaces as some passages have a very low ceiling. And although the only way to explore the cave is by water, Barton Creek Cave is one of the few “wet” caves in the country where visitors do not need to wade through or swim across any passages. As such, the quiet of gently floating through the earth is a transformative experience for most participants.
The entrance to Barton Creek Cave is located in the foothills of the Maya Mountains in Cayo District near the village of Georgeville east of San Ignacio. To get to the cave, follow Caracol Road from the Georgeville exit off of the Western Highway. For visitors arriving in personal vehicles, be aware that it takes about an hour’s drive across a jungle road with very difficult terrain to reach the cave entrance plus a river crossing. In times of inclement weather or following heavy rains, the river crossing may be closed.
The Black Orchid Resort, the premier jungle lodge in the Belize District of the country, organizes tours of Barton Creek Cave.