Gruta de Balankanché

Balankanché Cave - Gruta de Balancamché - Actun Balancamché

Useful Information

Location: From Chichén Itzá, drive east along via Federal Highway 180 for about 4 km, then turn left at the first dirt road and continue for about 0.5 km to the cave. Taxis will make the trip and wait.
Open: All year daily 9-17.
Tours in English: 9:30, 11, 12:30, 14, 15, 16.
Tours in Spanish: 9, 12, 14, 16.
Tours in French: 10.
Fee: Adults Foreigners MXN 108, Mexicans MXN 80, Children (6-12) free, Children (0-6) not allowed.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:   (English)
Photography: Allowed.
Bibliography: E. Wyllys Andrews IV (1970): Balankanche, Throne of the Tiger Priest, Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University 1970. Reprinted: AMCS Reprint Series 6, 2005. 7.5 by 10.25 inches, xii+182 pages, softbound, plus CD The archaeological report on Gruta de Balankanche, the most significant Maya cave site in Yucatán state. The book includes a transcription of Maya religious orations recorded in the cave, as well as their translation into Spanish. Some of the orations are on the music-format CD included in the book.
A. S. Pease, et al (1938): Fauna of the caves of the Yucatan, Carnegie Inst Wash Pub. p 14 Fig 1
Bruce Rogers (2004): Grutas de Balancanche, AMCS Activities Newsletter No. 27 [1], May 2004. pp. 79-83.
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.


1938 A. S. Pease visits the cave.
1959 Jose Humberto Gómez discovers a new passage and trebles the length of the cave. He discovers some untouched Mayan pottery and other relics.
2005 new map of the cave by Bruce Robert using survey data since 1961.


Usual facilities: snack bar, toilets and parking are available. Other attractions are a botanical garden, an open air museum and a sound and light show that fancifully recounts the Mayan history.

The Maya word Balankanché translates as hidden throne. The cave remained virtually undisturbed from the time of the conquest until its discovery in 1959 by a cave guide called Gomez. Here he found the treasures of the Maya, just as they were left over 800 years ago. The cave is regarded as a shrine as it is an important ceremonial site for the Maya.

Upon entering the cave, a pre-recorded tape in English, Mayan, and Spanish explains the history of the shrine. It is fairly well lit inside and includes modern stairways and banisters, although the stairs can be slippery. The cave contains a large collection of artefacts, mostly vases, jars, and incense burners that were once filled with offerings. Look out for the ceramic vessels with the face of Tlaloc, the Mexican rain god. In a large circular chamber, there is a huge stalagmite, this is a symbol of the "tree of life" in Mayan ideology. The guided tour takes one past tiers of stalactites and stalagmites forming images of the sacred Ceiba tree. Just after the underground lake, there is an altar to the rain god. Most of the passages are wide enough to allow visitors to stand fully upright, but there are a few places where you must be in fairly good shape, because some crawling is required.

Be warned, the cave is unusually hot, and ventilation is poor in the further reaches. The lack of oxygen makes it difficult to breath until you get back to the surface.

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.