I am not a cave person. Darkness, dampness, slippery floors, water, bats = not my thing.
However, we’ve had THREE amazing cave experiences in TWO weeks that I would advise anyone to do coming to this part of the world. Especially anyone who secretly wanted to be in The Goonies or Indiana Jones and who is up for tightening every muscle in their body (from fear and an intense workout)!
1. Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave, San Ignacio, Belize
A true adventure starting with 3 river crossings and a swim into the mouth of the cave, followed by squeezing your neck through rockfaces into an endless series of caverns where skeletons and pots from ancient Mayan human sacrifices reside. This is the cave version of the Great Barrier reef – with stalagmites forming proud friends with stalagtites, coral like walls and only purple tape on the floor to stop tourists treading on old skulls. Wobbly ladders would fail every European health and safety test so this day trip should be prescribed for those who need to face their fears. All fears.
2.Bat Caves, Lanquin, Guatemala
We just thought we were going to wander into some caves, look up and see some bats, then walk out again. BUT NO – this was another TRUE ADVENTURE! The tour agents are so chilled here, at no point do they have warnings like ‘this is not for the faint hearted’…’people with fear of spiders, the darkness or small spaces should consider this trip carefully’ or ‘if you aren’t in full survival mode, this isn’t probably the tour for you’…
Instead, within an hour we were scaling deep slippery stone steps with just candlelight, housting ourselves up a deep crevice and worshiping a Mayan stone shaped as a Mayan woman who will grant us all our wishes for 2012.
3. Caves at Semuc Champey, Lanquin Guatemala
An added bonus of going to the spectacular waterfalls at Semuc Champey is the adventure into the nearby caves.
Swimming with candles, climbing up a waterfall, jumping in darkness – superb fun – again breaking every health and safety rule in the book. A true test of heart and body!
I think I have been in enough caves now for a while…