Chiquibul Cave System

Xibalba - Cebada - Tunkul - Kabal

Useful Information

Location: Mt Maya West
Open: not open to the public.
Fee: n/a
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: none
Dimension: L=39,000 m, VR=160 m. (Tom Miller at the NSS World Long Cave List) T=23 °C.
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Thomas Miller, Stephen Alvarez (photographs) (2000): Inside Chiquibul, Exploring Central America's Longest Cave. National Geographic Magazine, April 2000, pp 54-71.
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.


~800 visited by Mayas.
1982 cave system discovered by Thomas Miller.
1999 Tukul and Cebada linked.


Chiquibul is called Central America's longest cave and is featured by National Geographic. It is located at the border to Guatemala in western Belize. This huge cave system is the underground bed of river Chiquibul and consists of four big caves and numerous sinkholes, which were extensively explored during the last decade. This caves are called Kabal, Tunkul, Cebada, and Xibalba.

The Chiquibul River springs in the hills of western Belize, flowing then westwards to the border of Guatemala. At the Sinks of the Chiquibul it disappears in the cave system. Here is the location of the Kabal cave, which is only waterfilled during wet season, when the sinks are not able to swallow all the water. The huge Sand Passage in this cave, dry most of the year, is then again bed of the Chiquibul river. It reappears in a normally dry valley, obviously a collapsed part of the cave system, a so called polje.

Now the river enters Tunkul cave, the main cave of the system. Originally thought to be separated systems Cebada cave got its own name. Divers have now prooven the connection. This jointed cave is also called Cebaba & Actun Tunkul.

In Tunkul cave the Chiquibul River flows all the year. The connection between here and the sinks is not discovered so far. It is supposed to be completely underwater. The location of this still unknown cave system is marked at one point by the sinkhole Nohoch Ch'en.

Cebada cave crosses the border to Guatemala underground. At the Zactun entrance, another polje, the river again reaches the surface, just to disappear again in Xibalba cave.