This week’s best adventure yet takes place in a geological formation that I am sort of obsessed with- caves! Because of the limestone in this part of the world caves and cenotes abound. This is more of what I was trying to experience when I visited Belize, but you can read about how it didn’t turn out that way for me. But I have enjoyed a similar experience in the Riviera Maya Mexico, but without the cool Mayan connection that Antoine found in Belize. Now I really need to get back to Belize! Read on to discover why you need to explore a cave in Belize by water.
What is cave tubing?
I wondered when I was perusing the leaflets on display in my hotel in Belmopan. 24 hours later, I found out. Cave Tubing is, in my opinion, the best attraction in Belize. It’s both an adrenaline-fueled adventure and a cultural experience. It allows partakers to relish in a unique nature and is a fantastic way to spend a scorching day in the tropical climate.
Where can you cave tube in Belize?
There are various destinations around Belize where caving is possible. I went to Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve which is about 30 kilometers from Belmopan.
Our tour first took us through the jungle, where we selected our tube to float down the river. We then hiked through the Belizean rain forest, keeping our eyes peeled for tropical birds and funky bugs! Once we arrived at the cave formations we retrieved our tubes and clambered into them. Then the real fun started; we entered the caves in our tubes.
At first, we were in complete darkness, but then lights were passed back and the cave’s interior was illuminated. We could see stalactites on the roof and ancient Maya paintings on the walls; which reminded me of how sacred a place this was. I reflected on and felt incredibly humbled about how significant this spot much have been for the ancient Maya tribe.
Remaining on the tube, we meandered through the other seven caves, all with their own beautiful features. The caves were cool and fresh, a wonderful respite from the mugginess of Belmopan.
One cave, titled the ‘Gothic Chamber’ had hidden pottery from 300-900 AD, which was thought to be used in Mayan sacrificial ceremonies. There was also a ‘frozen waterfall’ which was nothing less than spectacular.
But I was blown away at the Crystal Cave. True to its name, it glimmered away as if rare gemstones were littering the walls, with an azure blue water below my tube. Seeing the 360 degree view of the whole cave was one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever had.
Are there any other caves in Belize?
My caving experience was brilliant, but there’s plenty of other fantastic opportunities to cave in Belize as well. The ATM caves are probably the most famous, but there’s a multitude of dry and wet caves in San Ignacio and Cayo District. Belize actually has the longest extensive cave system in Central America, so is a must-visit for any adventurous soul!
And if normal cave tubing isn’t enough, there’s some more extreme adventures to be had in the country’s caves too. The Black Hole Drop gives the experience to hike up to the Maya Mountains and then sink into a big hole – only to climb out again after lunch! There’s overnight caving expeditions, where explorers can camp within the caves and traverse cave walls while retracing ancient Maya people’s steps. Then there’s a waterfall cave expedition, where participants climb through the water features and at the end of the day, jump off from them into the refreshing pools below.
There’s so much adventure to be had in Belize, and cave tubing is just the start of it. But in my opinion, it’s the very best and a must-do for any travelers to the sunny nation.
Antoine is a Canadian who currently resides in the Cayman Islands, but spends a great amount of time travelling and exploring the world; with last country count being at 45! His goal is to eventually visit every country and show you overlooked attractions in each location. Check out his blog at Traveling Life or follow him on Facebook.