Cave Tubing In Belize
Over the past decade, a renewed concern for the
environment has created a demand for eco-friendly adventures.
Activities like cave tubing—where you explore underground waterways
by floating on inner tubes—have sprung up in many natural tourist
areas, and are now becoming increasingly popular with travelers
wishing to explore off-the-beaten-track destinations.
a tiny Central American nation bordered by Mexico and Guatemala, has
the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, and is best
known for its sea adventures. Today, the country is touting
ecologically friendly adventure escapes within its jungle
If you're looking for a unique ecotourism
experience, consider cave tubing in Belize's 215-acre jungle resort
of Jaguar Paw. There you can explore isolated caves connected by
ancient waterways where the ancient Mayans once held religious
ceremonies. (The Mayans had a special reverence for caves since they
considered them to be entrances to "Xibalba," the
Cave tubing has only become popular in Belize
during the past few years, as many of the caves were only recently
discovered. This is the case with Jaguar Paw, where owners Cy and
Donna Young had been living on the property five years before
accidentally discovering the caves. In all probability, they were
the first people to enter the caves since the ancient
Cave tubing may sound like a strange activity;
however, as you walk down slippery red-clay jungle paths like I did,
you'll come to appreciate that the experience is more than just a
My Descent into the Mayan
"Go ahead, jump in," urged our guide Caesar.
One by one, members of our group took the plunge into the icy
water—shocking but refreshing after our hot jungle trek. Clinging to
each other's tubes, we formed a large flotilla (fleet of boats).
With headlamps strapped on, we entered the subterranean world and
let the current take us to the mouth of the cave.
As our eyes
adjusted to the dimming light, vistas sprung into view around each
corner. We came upon massive pottery jars that have stayed intact
for more than 1,000 years. The Mayans placed these jars beneath
stalactites to collect sacred "pure" water that never touched the
Paddling backwards upstream, we swirled past several
natural crevices that looked like side windows filtering in light
through the mist. Pointing our headlamp beams towards the holes, we
often found groups of bats huddled together. Some people shrieked,
but Caesar reminded us that these bats eat only fruits and bugs, and
would not fly in our hair or suck our blood.
One of the best
moments came when we shut off our lamps and floated downstream in
the darkness, losing all sense of place and direction. We could hear
the resounding rush of water. As we picked up speed, many of us
thought we were heading down rapids. Actually, we were passing
underground waterfalls. As we rounded a final corner, daylight
streamed into the cave to reveal a massive chamber known as the
"Crystal Cathedral," a Mayan spiritual center.
of the outside world stung our eyes as we emerged from hours
underground. Ancient secrets and all, we couldn't help but enjoy the
underworld come to life.
If you go:
Jaguar Paw Jungle Resort website for all the
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