Friday, March 14, 2008

Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal cave or short name of ATM is an amazing cave rich with Mayan artifacts and scarifies. It also contains many limestone formations that you see other caves. This is also a wet cave with river running through it.

There is suppose a limit on number of tour companies offering tour to this cave to minimize the impact, but the day I went there were many groups. The tour company I went with had 2 groups. Our guide is called Martin. He is very informative and enthusiastic. After arriving at the starting point of our hike to the cave, we trek through jungle trail for may be .5 hour, where we crossed the river 3 times, and Martin carefully point out various plants. At cave entrance, everyone put their camera into the dry bags and handed to Martin, and we proceed to swimming into the cave. I on the other hand went around the side and wade/cross at the narrow point.

In the cave we walked in the river, sometime chest level deep. Martin has a spot light to point out some of the formation, but not a good photo light as I thought (see pictures). Finally, we arrived at the Mayan scarifice chamber. This chamber is filled with potteries positioned in various ways to signify different meaning. There were also bones of the scarified. We had to take off our shoes/sandals and put on socks to prevent damage. At one of the pottery that had an inscription of a human figure, Martin told us of a Mayan story. I think he is the best guide I had in my trip so far and probably one of the best guides I ever had. We conclude our stop at the calcified remain of a female Mayan - very spooky. I highly recommend this tour and make sure you go with Martin of Mayawalk Tours.

After we got back to San Ignacia, Jorge (from Columbia, but studying in Mexico) who is staying at the same place as me, and Jenifer from San Diego (quit her job - aide to Senator Diane Feinstein of CA) signed up for Caracol tour the next day, and we hung out for dinner. One thing I noticed that there are tons of American tourists here and may be because Belize speaks English, as well relatively safe and great diving and beach.

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