Caves and Caverns of Belize (Belice in spanish)
Begin you journey back trough time as you enter the amazing realm of Belize’s cave system. It’s like taking a trip into an underground library. It’s a chance to learn more about the ancient Maya civilization, geological process that have shaped our planet and animals both living and extinct. Million years ago seeping rainwater and underwater rivers began etching through soft bedrock and outcrops. Today caves are to Belize like Swiss is to cheese.
Once caves are created, and while they are still relatively dry, the process reverses and a redeposition of material occurs. With eacj rainfall, a small mineral coating is left behind. Over a vast period of time, nature’s paintbrush creates an endless array of cave formations known as speleothems – stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, colums, rim pools and more. Cool breezes flow from misty entrances. The silence is almost eerie as you step into the supernatural domain. Escorted by a guide, you enter a cave and it’s easy to feel the presence of the other world. You may be expecting dank and claustrophobic passageways, but you are more likely to find enormous chambers. Pedestals and pinnacles shaped from dreams are revealed to you. You light flickers upon strange shapes and the ultimate dark beyond. Hear the echo of your voice bounce off the distant walls. Limestone rocks shaped over thousands of years stream down from the ceiling like pipe organs.
Underground river flow through a number of caves; some can be explored by kayak, canoe or rubber boat. Others are popular for tubing or wading with headlamps. Caves offer a wide range of activities from moderate to adventurous excursions to suit any age and fitness level. Go ahead; let your caving journey begin in Belize.
Caves played a major role in forming the ideology and distinctive worldview of ancient Maya culture. In addition to their mundane use as a water supply source, storage area, dump and temporary refuge, the ancient Maya considered caves to be a supernatural real where they deities and ancestors resided. Vapor clouds forming at the mouth of caves suggested to the Maya that these where the paces where the wind and the clouds were born. Here dwelled the gods of nature – the source of rain, thunder, and lightning. Caves were the portals between the tangible human world and the invisible world of gods – a place called Xibalba. It was herein the mouth of the caverns as well as deep in the recesses of the caves that the Maya performed their most sacred rituals.