Actun Tunichil Muknal Gateway to Xibalba
The ATM Cave tour is a spectacular tour experience and can be done from just about any where in Belize. Many people have done seen the cave while staying in Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye or even Placencia, find out more information at the tour page. Learn more about Actun Tunichil Muknal and find the original PDF on the cave.
In the depths of the jungle, at the foot of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve sits the Ancient Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (locally known as the ATM Cave). Located in the Cayo District, Belize, the ATM Cave is about 45 minutes away from San Ignacio Town. It is a major archaeological site and tourist attraction that includes skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. Discovered in 1989, this cave has remained untouched for approximately 1000 years, and has only been open to the public since 1998.
photo: Benedict Kim
The Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave was rated by National Geographic as #1 on their top ten list of Sacred Caves.
The territory of the Ancient Maya civilization covered most of Central America! However, its heart was in the deep jungle surrounding Actun Tunichil Muknal meaning “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher”. The Mayans considered Actun Tunichil Muknal to be a gateway to the underworld. They believed that the gods who provided rain and agricultural fertility resided in this underworld, and the cave was the birthplace of rain.
Exploring the Belize ATM Cave is a “Once in a lifetime” greatest experience ever.
The cathedral-like ceiling is gigantic and glistens from the cave crystals. Enormous stalactites hang from the ceilings connecting to stalagmites creating giant pillars. The cave contains all shapes and sizes of pottery- even as big as beach balls. Archaeologist found remains such as nuts, seeds and spices inside the pots. Ceramics inside the cave were marked with kill holes indicating that they were used specifically for ceremonial purposes. “The Monkey Pot” is one of the four found in all of Central America.
At the end of the highest chamber lies the magnificent “Crystal Maiden”. The skeleton of a 20 year old Mayan woman who’s death was believed to be a great sacrifice to appease the rain gods. This skeleton is covered in calcium carbonated crystals from the river flooding and receding over time. The magnificent maiden has drawn thousands to this sacred cave.
The Actun Tunichil Muknal Tour leaves early in the morning and returns late afternoon. Pick up can be done anywhere in San Ignacio or even from Belize City. Whether it’s from you’re Hotel, Resort or the Belize Cruise Port; your tour operator will plan your tour and transfers to and from Belize City. Tour operators and guides will do their best to make your experience of the Belize ATM Cave fun and unforgettable.