Grutas Xtacumbil-Xunan

Useful Information

Location: 2k southwest of Bolonchén. Follow Hwy 261 towards Hopelchén, turn right after 1.4 km, then again after 500 m.
Open: All year daily 8-18.
Fee: Adults USD 2.25.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: A=120 m asl., L=450 m.
Guided tours: L=150 m.
Bibliography: Antonio Benavides Castillo Agustín Peña Castillo, Renée Zapata Peraza (1991): La Gruta de Xtancumbilxunan, Campeche, INAH, 1991. p.7
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.


1841 John L. Stephens accompanied by Frederick Catherwood visited the cave. The latter published two engraving of the cave.
visited by the historian, Justo Sierra O'Reilly.
visited by the writer and poet Fernando Osorno Castro.
visited by the writer and poet Alejandro Aguilar Rosas.
visited by the writer and poet Ricardo Mimenza Castillo.
1973 to 1975 the North American biologist James Redell made a study on the invertebrates.
1978 a team of archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History studied of the site.
1985 a team of archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History studied of the site.


Xtancumbilxunan, pronounced SHATAA-koom-beel-shoo-NAHN, is a grotty dimly lit little hole. A series of steps lead down to a barely visible cenote. A further 100 m of passage follows with some impressive speleothems. The climb back to the surface is the highlight of the trip, with the bright sunlight streaming through the trees in the forest.

During the tour the guide tells the visitors some of the legends that gives the cave its name. The most popular story narrates the romantic adventure of a lady and a catholic priest. Because of their sinful relationship, they took refuge in the cave and lived there for many years to avoid public censure in the middle of 17th century.

In 1978 and 1985 two teams of archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History studied of the site. The investigations in 1985 suggested that the Mayans occupied the cave from the classic period: BC 2000 to BC 1000. It is though that the cave was used as a water supply in the pre-Hispanic stage, especially in times of drought, but the difficulty of access meant that the cave was rarely used for this purpose, only for religious ceremonies.

1973 Mrs Concepción Noh May and her six children, inherited the position of cave guide on the death of her husband Florentino Yam Uc, who in turn obtained this position from his brother-in-law Victoriano Pacheco. Before Victoriano his brother Pedro took care of the cave.

Text by Tony Oldham (2004). With kind permission.

The Grutas Xtacumbil-Xunan or simply Xtacumbilxunan is an archaeological cave with many remains from the Mayans. The most impressive thing in this cave is a wooden staircase which goes down into a huge chamber. The wide staircase was obviously first built during Mayan times. The modern staircase is a sort of reconstruction. On the other hand the cave is not very interesting as a cave and a little bit off the main tourist streams, so it seems it is now closed. We could not find any website of this cave, which does actually not mean it is not open any more. But we also found a trip report which tells about a closed but broken door. There are dozens of websites which show the location of the cave and almost all of them are wrong by some 10 km, but we guess we have the right loacation. If you visit the cave please send us an update on its open status.