Why you need to explore Belize’s ATM Cave
The tropical paradise of Belize was once home to over 2 million Maya people and today numerous ancient Maya temples and caves dot the landscape. Before its collapse around 900 A.D., the Maya civilization developed a sophisticated number system and written language, excelled in construction, art, and math, and used the stars and planets to create a complex calendar. Their descendants still live in Belize today, holding onto many of the old beliefs and customs, and archaeologists flock to Belize to study its temples and plazas, but tourists also get a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Actun Tunichil Muknal, better known among natives as the ATM Cave, sits in the middle of the Belize jungle. Called the Cave of the Sepulcher and featured in rare footage by National Geographic, it beckons adventurers to a 45-minute hike that crosses the Roaring River three times before returning to the same hiking trail. Inside the cave, visitors find skeletons, old tools, and pottery, but they also find themselves at the eerie site where rituals and human sacrifices once took place.
Inside the cave, guests turn from lush green foliage and sparkling blue waters to damp darkness lit only by the headlamps on their helmets. Swimming past exquisite stalactites and stalagmites, they enter the inner chambers, the sites where archaeological treasures like the calcified bones of the Crystal Maiden still rest. The entire tour through the cave takes about three hours. No cameras are allowed, and guests need to wear clothing and shoes that make it easy to tread water. Professional guides accompany all tours for safety and preservation of the natural habitat.
A popular day trip for tourists, the ATM Cave is a one-hour drive from Black Orchid Resort. With the beauty of nature and the convenience of the 21st century, Black Orchid provides luxury and adventure to its guests. The resort offers free shuttles to and from the airport, complimentary breakfast, high-speed internet, and rental bikes. Guests also enjoy an on-site restaurant, swimming pool, cable TV, and private bathrooms in every room. Tours from the resort to the ATM Cave include entrance fees and lunch.
Visitors to Black Orchid Resort can also choose between a variety of other tours, including seeing the Maya ruins, visiting nature and wildlife preserves, or touring historic Belize City. Travelers looking for adventure can scuba dive, snorkel, visit the nearby jungle, or walk through the labyrinths of the Crystal Cave. Tours allow time for guests to get a taste of Belizean cuisine and pick up a few souvenirs to take back home.
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