Friday, August 14, 2009

Actun Tunichil Muknal: The Cave of the Stone Sepulchre

On Friday, August 7th we spent the day with Francisco, a guide from Pacz Tours in San Ignacio. He drove us east into the Tapir Mountain Reserve where we hiked to the mouth of the ATM Cave (PHOTO 1). With helmets, headlamps, and a collective deep breath we swam into the cave and continued to swim, wade, and scramble our way a kilometer into the earth. Along the way we stopped to admire crystal formations (PHOTO 2) and pots and other artifacts (PHOTO 3) seen now as they were left more than a thousand years ago by the Mayas who used the cave for ceremonies and sacrifice. PHOTO 4 shows the crystallized bones of a young female victim of sacrifice who the guides call their princesa.

Late in the afternoon we visited a Maya ruin on the hill above San Ignacio, Cahal Pech. It sits in a beautiful wooded setting and has lots of layers and stairs and rooms to explore (PHOTO 5). HAPPY TRAILS!

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