ATM (AKTUN TUNICHIL MUCKNAL)
Actun Tunichil Muknal “cave of the stone sepulcher” was first discovered in 1989 located in the Tapir Mountain Reserve in the Cayo District near the village of Roaring Creek. This popular cave is rated as the #1 cave in Central America by National Geography and listed as the top things to do in Belize.
The ATM Cave is known to be used by the Mayans for ceremonial purposes during the classic period. Most of the ceremonies or rituals were held at the entrance of the cave. The interior of the cave was considered to be more sacred and closer to the Mayan rain God, Chaak. Towards the end of the classic period it is believed that the rituals were held deeper into the interior of the ATM as a result of drought thus contributing to the collapse of the Mayan civilization.
The natural geological wonder of crystalline stalactites and stalagmites formations are not the only remarkable thing about the ATM. This 5-kilometer-long museum if filled with ancient Mayan artifacts and has over 14 human remains of men, women and children.
Let out guides take you back in time, explore the impressive Underworld of the ATM Cave and enjoy one of the most enlightening experiences of your life. As you venture into the hour glass shaped entrance you will be welcomed by clear blue water of the perennial stream that flows throughout the cave.
Along the way you will see ancient tools, pots and pieces and learn the history of the Mayan Civilization. As you travel deeper into the cave you will meet sacred burials and a complete intact female remains covered in sparkling mineral deposits knowns as the Crystal Maiden. Her death is believed to be due to a of sacrificial ritual for agricultural fertility.
The ATM Site is an hour drive from San Ignacio Town, when we have arrived at the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve all vehicles are parked at the ranger post. We then hike for 45 minutes through the jungle and cross three streams along the way. When accessing the cave, we swim across a pool with the assistance of a rope and wallow into knee high water. This three-hour physical adventure consists of exploring tunnels, passage ways and chambers. With the aid of your headlamp we will witness stalactites, number of Mayan artefacts and human remains including the Crystal Maiden.
No cameras are allowed on this unique tour, but every moment can be captured with the blink of an eye.
After the tour is over, we hike back to the ranger site and unwind with a homemade picnic lunch before heading back to Town.
Things to Know
Opening Hours of ATM Cave: 7am- 5pm
Estimated time of tour: Approximately 8 hours
Age: Minimum 12 years old
(If your child is under 12 years old, we have other tours to offer if you are planning your daily activity as a family. Contact us for details.)
Meeting / Pickups
- Local souvenir vendor
Tour Package Includes
- Tour of ATM Cave
- Admission fee
- Tour guide
- Equipment & Gear
- Bottled water
- Lunch (Dietary restrictions can be accommodated)
What to Bring
- Insect repellant
- Water bottle
- Cash to buy items from local vendors along the way
- Swim suit to bathe
- Extra clothing to change
What to Wear
Belize has hot and humid temperatures year-round. If you are unsure of what the weather might be like when you are visiting, a good recommendation is:
- Comfortable dry fit clothing (you will be in a canoe during the tour)
- Water Shoe