|Location:||On the Chiquibul Road. Cayo District|
|Fee:||US$45 per person. Minimum 4 persons.|
|Classification:||Karst cave river cave. Gateway to Hell|
|Light:||Electric hand lamp.|
|Guided tours:||L=1,600 m wet season, L=3,200 m dry season.|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
The trip starts with an adventurous drive towards the Mountain Pine Ridge area in a Land Rover, along the Chiquibul Road and through a picturesque Dutch Mennonite Amish farm community. Here a short stop can be made to buy fresh fruit. Nearby it is possible to find the cave guide, Pablo, a long haired Rastafarian who will row you deep inside Barton Creek Cave, for about 1 or 2 miles depending on water levels. Sit back, relax and direct your 1,000 candle power lamp provided by the guide, at the amazing formations inside the huge cave believed by the Maya to be the Underworld, "Xibalba", (pronounced SheeBALba) the Kingdom of their Gods. Float under stalactites, see ancient skeletons and pottery and prepare to be awestruck by cathedral-like caverns. Watch out for the bats, they are doubly incontinent. Pablo will point out a skull, and tell you that a skeleton was found here in the kneeling position, assumed to be a virgin, just as she knelt as she was sacrificed to attract the rain god. The Maya carried on making sacrifices until the people realised it was no longer working, or they ran out of virgins. Marvel at the 5 million year old speleothems over 50 feet high as your knowledgeable guide explains the Maya's beliefs about the underworld.
Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.