ATM Cave: A Must-See Mayan Wonder in Belize

The doorway to adventure awaits – are you ready to explore the ancient mysteries of Actun Tunichil Muknal cave? – Photo: Bernard Dupont | Flickr

Looking for an adventure that will transport you to another world? Look no further than Actun Tunichil Muknal, known to locals and savvy travelers alike as the ATM Cave.

Descend into the mysterious depths of this underground wonderland and marvel at the intricate tunnels and chambers that have been preserved for centuries. But the real highlight? The ancient Mayan remains that have been left untouched for all this time.

Get ready to be wowed and wonderstruck as you explore one of the most captivating and awe-inspiring attractions in all of Belize.

Journey back in time to the days of the mighty Maya civilization as you marvel at the intricate beauty of their pottery, preserved for centuries in the depths of Actun Tunichil Muknal cave in Belize – Photo: Bernard Dupont | Flickr

Historically, the Mayan people used the ATM Cave for religious ceremonies and sacrifices. It still holds many artifacts from these events today, including pottery, stone tools, and even human remains — including “The Crystal Maiden,” the skeleton of a young woman with calcified bones that sparkle like crystals.

Within the mysterious and enchanting Actun Tunichil Muknal cave in Belize lies the remains of a Mayan sacrifice. This captivating photograph captures the ethereal beauty of the “Crystal Maiden,” whose calcified bones sparkle like crystals, serving as a testament to the religious significance this cave held for the Mayan people – Photo: Bernard Dupont | Flickr

The cave’s ceilings are also filled with stalactites, which are only seen in limestone caves. Travelers should resist the temptation to touch them (doing so is seen as disrespectful to the local cultures).

Leave the world behind and step into the captivating darkness of Actun Tunichil Muknal cave, where stalactites hang like chandeliers and secrets of the past await to be discovered – Photo: Bernard Dupont | Flickr

The Mayas first entered the ATM cave between 300 and 600 AD. However, it wasn’t until 700-900 AD that they ventured deeper inside to perform ceremonies.

The cave officially opened to the public in 1998. Since then, it has become a popular tourist attraction.

Those who want to explore Actun Tunichil Muknal must be accompanied by an experienced and licensed tour guide. It’s important to note, too, that this tour is not for the faint of heart. It lasts about three hours and requires explorers to climb over rocks and wade through several feet of water.

Travelers should note that the ATM Cave is situated in the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve in the midst of a tropical jungle. It’s about a 45-minute drive from San Ignacio, and it takes about 45 minutes to hike to the cave entrance.

Getting to the cave may seem like a bit of an ordeal. However, it’s absolutely worthwhile if you’re physically able to handle the task.

Previous visitors have likened the ATM cave to the Great Wall of China and the pyramids of Giza. In other words, it’s a quintessential attraction for anyone exploring Belize. Start planning your trip today!