Spelunking in Belize


I felt like Indiana Jones. I even had the obligatory chapeau, although in this case, it was a hard hat equipped with a headlamp. Actun Tunichil Muknal, or ATM, is only one of the many unique excursions one can take from the Cayo district in Belize.

The full day excursion started with a 40 minute hike, complete with three river crossings, to the staging area, where we quickly scarfed down box lunches and strapped on our equipment. Then we climbed down a hill and literally swam into the cave. Once inside, we alternated between walking, swimming, crawling and climbing. Definitely a challenge, mentally and physically (if you are an almost middle aged average Josephina)!

Of course, there were numerous stalagmites and stalactites. But, the true reward was the treasure trove of Mayan pottery and human sacrificial remains. I had been concerned that viewing the skeletons would seem irreverent and overly voyeuristic. But, the requirement that all hikers remove their shoes and the accompanying educational commentary insured proper decorum. My children, ages 20, 18 and 16, having been blessed with many wonderful trips during their short lifetimes, declared that ATM was truly one of best, most unique experiences.

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