What You Want To Know About Belize Cave Tubing:
Belize is believed to be home to over 900 Maya sites in total over the more than eight thousand square miles of Earth area we call home. As you could imagine that is a lot to excavate, luckily not all these “sites” are large ruined/abandoned temples. Quite a number of these sites includes village remains and caves. Belize Cave tubing adventures take you through some of these very subterranean that were once traversed by the Mayan denizens of these parts.
Snorkeling in Belize is world class, but for those of you wondering who or why anyone would float through an old cave for fun, let us share these awesome facts with you:
Over a thousand years ago the last local Mayan inhabitant left one of the caves after what would be the last ritual ever performed in one. After them, these sites became abandoned and forgotten, deemed too dangerous for day to day life and too dark to ever be comfortable for human eyes. Our Mayan ancestors believed the caves to be entrances to Xibalba; their underworld, the place of fear and the gods of death.
Thinking about it, there’s little mystery as to why these people would attribute such dreadful qualities to a place such as a cave. Luckily in all our treks we have yet to stumble across Xibalba itself or any of a great many horrors that were theorized to be contained inside.
It’s difficult to ascertain exactly how old these formations could each be or when the first use of them was. Many of the artifacts left in them have since become calcified, encased in limestone sediments and fused with the cave-scape around them. Many. if not all the artifacts found therein are permanently fixed to their resting place. It is also difficult to determine whether the caves with no artifacts were used at all or not or for different purposes; the cave that you tube through could have at one point been a very integral part of a community’s belief system!
Laid Back Adventure
Floating in an air-filled tube quietly down the stream and through limestone caverns has the potential to be one of the most serene experiences to be had in Belize. As you make your way slowly from the mouth of a cave and through its inner tunnels you’ll be struck by the stark lack of light within. Many reaches of these formations had not seen light for hundreds of years, and some; never before the last century or so.
Thankfully; you have nothing to fear as your guide takes you meandering through the dark reaches and eventually back out. Entering and later re-emerging from a cave formation can sometimes feel like being reborn into the light, no longer a creature of the dark like the bats, crabs and other nocturnal creatures who sleep there by day.
Speaking of guides, there are many very knowledgeable and experienced guides that will be happy to take you through safely while explaining the lore and geology of the area. Gone are the days that you needed to be an expert explorer to make it through these places, We doubt Indiana Jones would be smart enough to just float down in a tube to see what’s there anyway.
More than One way to do it
Cave tubing, including the hike it takes to the start point and sometimes the end point you’ll spend about a half day adventuring through jungle paths and cave interiors. So that’s it yeah? The fun is over after midday… Not quite; depending on your location auxiliary activities are available to add to your cave exploration expedition!
Sadly, you can’t zip-line through an entire cave (seriously someone… make that happen!) You can precede or follow your float along with a high-hanging swoosh through Belize’s tropical canopy zipping from one platform to the next until you’re back at ground level.
If you’re in the Caves Branch area a short drive/ride away quad bikes await you for a mud plugging jungle trail ride. The condition presented for this tour is being of driving age (16) or eight years old if riding back seat to an adult. This tour isn’t physically vigorous but be prepared to get dirty, it’s all part of the fun! 🙂
Other Cave Adventures
So you hung on for dear life on a tree top zip line, then relaxed your tired heart in a floating tube drifting down the cool river through quiet caves yet somehow, your cave adventure itch still itches? Fret not, check out these cool caves to explore while you’re still here:
Barton Creek Cave
Remember our reference to Xibalba earlier? Barton Creek cave is about as close as we can imagine it getting to such a place if it existed. Your trek through Barton Creek cave is a spiritual “step up” from Belize Cave Tubing as you cave canoe your way through the archways and cathedralic inner chambers. Taking a spookier turn, this cave contains remains left behind by the original inhabitants of this land in the form of pottery and even complete skeletons.
Aktun Tunichil Muknal
Universally shortened to ATM cave, this is probably the most famous of the bunch. Apart from most famous (to which there is still debate) it is certainly the most physically vigorous. ATM cave is believed to be the most heavily used cave in the times of death gods and human sacrifices. Evidence has been found of ancient Mayans fashioning altars and the cave is littered with intact, calcified pottery and human skeletons, forever fused to the rock they lay on. You’ll need to hike, swim and climb your way through this cave to get to the end, there’s no going “around” to check it out… only through!
Other Tubing adventures
After you’ve enjoyed all the cave adventures and just want to kick back for a bit with some scenery and calm waters we have just the thing for you as well.
The Mopan River which makes it’s way down and through western Belize to the main River that leads to the sea is a relaxed undulating stream that makes its way through Benque Viejo, Bullet tree Falls, and pristine uninhabited rainforest that makes for some great Belize Cave Tubing. You can pick up a tube and make your drift down as long or short as you like it from Benque to Branch mouth in San Ignacio, maybe even beyond if you get adventurous.