One of the Cayo District's more popular soft adventures is canoeing down the Macal River, a gentle river with stone beaches perfect for beaching and taking a dip. Along your paddle you will most likely encounter villagers going about their daily chores, families relaxing along the river, but mostly quiet stretches of jungle landscape.
The thrilling part of this canoe ride happens when the giant black and orange iguanas, lazing in the trees that hang above, roll over and fall in. These guys can grow to six feet, and while they are harmless, if you are not paying attention, it can give you quite a jump.
The canoe tour ends underneath the San Ignacio suspension bridge by the market in this Western Border Town. Be sure to take some time to walk around this bustling center, where a mix of cultures and generations converge.
The Barton Creek Canoe Caving tour is a unique, guided experience. The paddle takes visitors along Barton Creek and into the Barton Creek cave with flashlights and headlamps. The cave includes Mayan artifacts such as pottery and skeletal remains from Mayan sacrifice along its ledges. For those who wish, one can jump off into the pools in the deeper chambers of the cave before returning to daylight.
Canoeing or kayaking the Mopan River is another terrific experience. The Mopan River runs along the Western Border of Belize, past Xunaunich Maya site where it joins with the Macal River to become The Belize River, which goes all of the way into Belize City. There are several tours available for kayaks and canoes. The Mopan is a bit faster than the Macal River and includes level 1 (easy) rapids, as well as calm waters, and one can stop along the way to visit the Maya site or Panti Medicinal Trail.
Belize's underground cave systems are among some of the most beautiful in the world. Large crystal caverns with high cathedrals, rivers and waterfalls inside and crystal formations. Here, in Belize, you can tube, paddle, swim and hike through our caves to see pottery, flints, artwork and remains from ancient Mayan rituals.
Caving adventures in Belize run the gamut of interest. For the most part, the cave tours in Belize take visitors inside the mountains where giant domes and vast and open cathedrals of space are the chambers of our underground. There are walking tours through picturesque caverns and watery tours that float you deep inside Xibalba (the underworld of the Mayan spiritual tree of life).
Cave tours vary in level of difficulty, length of time and archeological interest. Hidden Valley is here to help you determine what tour is right for you.
The Barton Creek Cave Canoeing Expedition
One of Belize’s more unique caving expeditions begins right at our backdoor. The Creek Cave is entered via canoe, so visitors can enjoy the thrill of exploring underground by way of river without getting wet. Like many of the caves explored here in Belize, Maya artifacts including skeletal remains of human sacrifice can be seen and beautiful rock and crystal formations give visitors an appreciation for the beauty of the underground. This cave tour is an excellent opportunity to photograph the beauty of these underground cathedrals.
Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM)
This is a tour for the bit more adventurous. You must be able to swim and you should also be relatively fit. This cave was discovered in the 1980s and opened for managed tourism in the 1990. It was popularized on National Geographic Television and is probably the most famous cave tour in Belize.
The tour begins with a 45-minute hike into the jungle. With headlamps, visitors enter by way of a 10-meter swim across a deep turquoise pool, followed by a small, wet scramble up a rock. The tour is walking and swimming through passageways that can be narrow and a little harrowing …particularly in the dark, but this adds to the thrill.
Inside the ATM cave, sculpted stalactites and stalagmites, pottery from the ancient Maya, artworks and the skeletal remains of human sacrifice can be seen. The ATM cave holds archeological and historical significance in that it provides insight to the psyche of the Maya in their decline.
A beautiful cave and “soft” adventure located near Hidden Valley Inn in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. A trip to Rio Frio is usually combined with a tour to Caracol Ruins and Rio On Pools.
A beautiful cave, the Rio Frio is just a half a mile long so natural daylight helps illuminate this tour. The cave dome is the largest found to date in Belize and its massive entrance makes this “easy” cave tour accessible for most. During the dry season you can walk across the entire cave and out the other end. It is a great spot for photography.
Full day tour, very challenging and you need to be fit and ready for adventure. First, you will go on a hike through the jungle to the entrance of Crystal Cave where you will descend 15ft with ropes and explore the spectacular cave system. You will pass through huge caverns adorned with speleothems and crystalline formation, artifacts of pottery, beads, obsidian blades and human skeletal remains that have been calcified in the limestone floor.
One of the most popular tours in Belize is cave tubing. It is offered through several different cave systems in a variety of tours. Typical tours include some hiking, but there are a few tours where visitors just float through the underground rivers past window-like openings that provide views of the jungle. Some tours access deeper rivers and areas where Maya ceremonies took place.
The most exciting part of the tour is undoubtedly is leaving the window of the cave’s mouth to float into the echoing darkness and cool of the cave. Flipping headlamps on, the group bands together to explore the underworld, which is filled with artifacts, beautiful formations, rivers, pools and falls.
Ziplining is a heart-pounding adventure taking guests on a ride across the jungle canopy attached to cables by two pulleys. It is exhilarating and beautiful way to see the jungle – if you open your eyes! Rest assured, ziplining tours begin with safety instructions and the fitting of your gear, including a harness and helmet. Courses include several traverses and platforms that take visitors along a picturesque trek across the canopy.
One at a time, adventurers are zipped across the cables, caught by a guide on the receiving platform, where they are quickly unsnapped from the cable and have the opportunity to rest before taking off again. On occasion, monkeys can be seen in the canopies.
Explore the beauty of Hidden Valley Inn Reserve and Mountain Pine Ridge area on horseback. Guided tours take you through rivers and to waterfalls, to Mayan ruins and into caves and hidden places not accessible by vehicle.
Horseback riding on the Reserve offers a different perspective to the jungle. Full and half day tours can be arranged through Hidden Valley Inn and half-day tours can be combined with a secondary tour.
For information on adding horseback riding to your vacation itinerary, see our packages in the Specials section or contact HIdden Valley Inn to custom-plan your vacation.