The tour starts at 8 a.m. with a 1 hr. drive from San Ignacio to the parking lot. It is about 45-minute hike through the Tapir Nature Mountain Reserve (which is 6,741 acres of protected land) to the entrance of the cave. The ATM cave is an archeological cave located in the Roaring Creek Valley in the Cayo District of Belize. It is approximately 5 Km long and contains a perennial stream that passes through it. Several areas of remains of ancient ritual activity including a ledge with two stelae and a large chamber full of intact human remains, whole pots are also found throughout the cave. The name translates to ” Cave of the stone Sepulcher” and was given in reference to the number of human remains found inside.
This cave was formed over several hundred thousand years by water erosion along the karstic limestone foothills which encircle the Maya Mountains. The cave was used by the Mayas in the late classic period between 700 – 900 AD, to conduct their ceremonies and rituals (bloodletting, food offering and human sacrifice) to please their Gods. The Main Chamber contains the skeletal remains of 14 individuals, approximately 150 ceramic vessels, and several grinding stones. From the 14 individuals, 6 are infants under the age of 3 years, 1 is a child of roughly 7 years of age, and the remaining 7 are adults ranging in age from their early 20s to approximately 40 years old.
Canadian geologist Thomas Miller first reported this cave in 1989. It quickly drew the attention of National Geographic, which produced a documentary on it in 1992 titled, “Journey Through the Underworld”. Belizean archaeologist and now Commissioner of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology in Belize, Jaime Awe guided the National Geographic team through the cave. The following year, Awe and his Western Belize Regional Cave Project (WBRCP) began full-scale archaeological investigations in the cave that ran as a research program and archaeological field school through 2000. The cave was opened up full-time for tourism soon after.
Orlando was our guide for the ATM caves. He was an excellent guide and the tour was a really fun and interesting experience. Would highly recommend booking.
- He... read more
We had Orlando as our ATM cave guide. He was a wonderful guide, and happily answered all my questions, made sure the group was doing ok at every turn, and... read more
Orlando took us on an amazing trip to the ATM caves!! We enjoyed the day with him learning about the jungle, caves and history of the Mayan people. Orlando was... read more