Belize’s ATM Cave packs a punch, Indiana Jones style

skeleton in belize's atm cave
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Belize’s Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave (otherwise known the ATM Cave) is near San Ignacio, Cayo and is one of those places that everyone thinks is really cool at first blush: skeletons, caves, and the general feeling of being Indiana Jones when scoping out artifacts.

Unfortunately, once you remember that the presence of skeletons mean it’s a burial ground, you begin to understand the controversy of it and why the local Maya aren’t keen on tourists tromping about. According to Maya mythology, caves are sacred given that they are the entrance to the underworld: Xibalba.

The balance of trying to figure out tourists coming to the cave is a serious one that has implications beyond offending the sensibilities of the locals: In May 2012, a tourist dropped his camera and fractured one of the ancient skulls.

While they say they should be able to repair it, there’s an effect on everyone due to this mistake: current visitors can no longer take pictures/video inside the cave. Exceptions can be made but permission from Belize’s National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) must be requested in advance.

Perhaps the next incident will involve further restrictions, so I’d get out there while you still can. Belize’s ATM Cave awaits.



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