In a country with more than 100 navigable caves, Barton Creek Cave stands out for its unique history and impressive size. Unlike “dry” caves where spelunking is performed on foot, Barton Creek Cave has a large yet tranquil waterway running through it, meaning that visitors explore this impressive cave using canoes.
Belize is the heartland of the ancient Maya civilization, and Barton Creek Cave was used by Maya priests to conduct some of their most sacred rituals. The ancient Maya believed that caves were conduits to the underground world of the gods, known as Xibalba or “place of fear.” As such, Barton Creek Cave still contains many priceless artifacts, including ceremonial weapons, food offerings, pottery, and jewelry.
To explore Barton Creek Cave, modern-day visitors head east from the town of San Ignacio until they reach the village of Georgeville. From there, experienced guides will lead visitors along a narrow jungle path that includes a river crossing. After approximately one hour, the banks of Barton Creek are visible, and participants will board a canoe to begin their exploration of the cave.
Although the underground river running through Barton Creek Cave extends for at least five miles, only the first mile (1.6 kilometers) is safe for public exploration. Within a few minutes of boarding the canoe, participants will follow their tour guide into the stygian darkness of the cave. Using headlamps and flashlights, visitors will see a secret underworld that was once the exclusive domain of high-ranking Maya priests. The beams of light will reveal awe-inspiring cathedral-like chambers and beautiful stalactites that glitter and twinkle.
Along the way, the tour guide will explain about the natural history of the cave as well as the importance of the cave in Maya history, giving visitors a better understanding of the long-lost culture that built dozens of impressive cities across Belize.
After exiting the cave and emerging back into the bright tropical daylight, participants can enjoy a refreshing swim in the waters of the creek. Organized tours to Barton Creek Cave may also include a delicious picnic lunch.
Due to the nature of this tour, visitors who suffer from claustrophobia or anxiety about the dark are not recommended to participate. In some places, the ceiling of Barton Creek Cave is quite low. Although no swimming is required to explore Barton Creek Cave, swimwear, a change of clothes, and a towel are recommended. Other recommended items include insect repellant and rain gear during wet weather.
Chabil Mar offers Belize vacation packages that include all the best attractions of the jungle and sea, including an organized cave tubing tour of Barton Creek Cave.
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