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Journey into the Maya Underworld

Xibalba is the name for the underworld in Maya mythology.
It is described in the Popol Vuh as a court below the surface of the earth associated with death .... and caves were the entrance to this world.


Begin your journey back through time
as you enter the realm of Xibalba and learn about a mysterious ancient Maya civilization and the geological processes that shaped the region.

Millions of years ago seeping rainwater and underground rivers began etching through soft bedrock and outcrops. Today caves are to Belize like Swiss is to cheese. The lime rock matrix that makes up much of the country's landmass is riddled with caves and beneath the surface can be found some of the most spectacular and extensive cave systems on the planet.

Caves and the Maya

Caves are inextricably bound up with the history of Belize, having been fundamental to the religion of the Maya. Vapor clouds forming at the mouth of caves suggested to the Maya that these were the places where wind and clouds were born.

Here dwelled the gods of nature and caves were the portal between the tangible human world and the invisible world of gods. It was here at the mouth of caves as well as deep within the recesses that the Maya performed their most sacred rituals.

Few caves do not have some visible sign of their past visitation and evidence of their activities can often be found for substantial distances inside these caves. Relics, principally in the form of shards of pottery, are very common.

Now you might be expecting dank and claustrophobic passageways, but you are more likely to find enormous chambers and a subterranean world that is fast becoming one of Belize's most popular attractions.

Underground rivers flow through a number of caves - Some can be explored by kayak or canoe - Others are popular for tubing or wading with head lamps.

In Deference to their Achievement it has now become standard practice among modern caver's in Belize to name newly discovered caves from the Maya language. "Ac-tun" or hollow-stone, which is the Maya word for cave.

Popular Cayo Area Caves

Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave) - This water cave contains a diverse collection of Maya artifacts. Good physical fitness is required.

Caves Branch - Guided cave tubing - Float in rubber tubes within the Caves Branch River system.
Black Hole Drop - Stretch your comfort zone as you rappel down into a jungle sink hole. Good physical fitness is required.

Chechem Hah Cave - Near the Guatemalan border this cave is impressive for it's mother lode of intact storage jars called "ollas".

Barton Creek Cave - Canoeing is the way to experience this cave. Featuring natural bridges and impressive formations.

Rio Frio Cave - With the largest cave opening in Belize, this cave has its own parking lot and steps up for easy walking.

St. Herman's Cave - Part of Blue Hole National Park. This cave is an easy one to hike to.

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