Many visitors to Belize wisely include a cave tour of some kind in their itinerary, and the experience sure makes for great travel memories. From casual adventurers to extreme spelunkers, the caves in Belize have something for everyone, and their magical realms present a most stunning setting. Among the newest Belize cave attractions is the Barton Creek Caves system. The Barton Creek Caves are found in the Cayo District, just about an hour's drive from San Ignacio. The cave system here, which has been carved out with the help of a navigable river, was once a Maya burial and ritual site, and as such, you'll be able to notice various Maya artifacts and skeletal remains inside. Jaw-dropping speleothems, or cave formations, further compliment the Barton Creek Caves experience, and you'll surely want to make sure you have fresh batteries in the camera. This once sacred Maya cave awaits visitors who are looking to experience the magical Mayan realm of Xibalba.
Xibalba was a Maya term for the link to the spiritual world that they believed caves provided. This is why many a Maya cave served as a ritual center of sorts. Some archaeologists believe that the Barton Creek Maya cave was possibly a place where ritual bloodletting and human sacrifices occurred. Besides viewing skeletal remains and other vestiges of the ancient Maya, visitors to the Barton Creek Caves will be treated to some pretty spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. The only way to get inside the Barton Creek Caves is by canoe, and you will have to arrange a guided tour. Chances are good that the tour desk at any number of reputable Belize hotels can help you arrange Barton Creek cave tours. The canoes that the guides furnish are equipped with high-power spotlights, so visibility is excellent. You'll be able to notice how large the chambers can get in here, not to mention all the interesting cave formations. Some of the stalactites and stalagmites here reach up to 50 feet in length. Oh, and there is also a pretty big resident population of bats, which you will surely notice as well.
Part of what makes a trip to the Barton Creek Caves so popular is the fact that you don't have to do a lot of work to get here. Many of the other notable Belize caves require a strenuous hike in or out, not to mention some skilled maneuvers once inside of them. With the Barton Creek Caves, you simply drive on up to the entrance area and jump in the canoe. Also, for those who are claustrophobic, there are only a few spots where the ceiling gets low for a second or so. It's best to arrange for a guide to drive you to the caves, as you may experience a bit if issue crossing the river that will eventually lie in your path if you go it alone in your rental car. If said river should be low, then you might find it easy enough to cross on your own without risking too much. On the drive to the caves, you will pass through the picturesque Barton Creek Belize Mennonite community, where you can observe a slice of local, daily life.
After enjoying your canoe trip, which can be anywhere from 1 to 2 miles depending on water levels, you might interest yourself in a swim in Barton Creek itself. The clear, cool water is certainly inviting. By the main swimming hole is a bar, where you can belly up and enjoy a few Belikan beers while you reminisce about the day's experience. Barton Creek Belize awaits those looking for a most unique attraction Belize superstar. You won't regret treating yourself to this one. While in the area, you might also choose to enjoy some hiking, horseback riding, or mountain biking in the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve. Some of the best Mayan ruins in Belize are close by as well. Take the kids to the nearby Green Hills Butterfly Ranch and Botanic Garden, and enjoy a picnic. With activities like this to offer, it's no wonder that the Cayo District is Belize's most popular inland travel destination.