1. The Belize Travelcast
  2. Episode 33

Belize Crystal Cave Mountain Cow Virtual Tour

Francisco Itza 53 minutes

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About the Crystal Cave:
Crystal cave is one of the largest cave systems in Belize located within the Blue Hole National Park. This cave system has huge caverns that are adorned with beautiful stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, rock columns, crystalline formations, and Mayan artifacts. Crystal Cave, also known as Mountain Cow Cave, is considered to be one of the top crystal caves in the world. The excitement begins at the cave entrance where you start your journey into “Xibalba,” or The Underworld, by tactically navigating columns and crystalline formations through a narrow, and at the times-steeply descending pathway. Once inside the main cave, you will find yourself surrounded by an amazing crystal cave that was used by ancient Maya shamans (priests) for ritual ceremonies performed thousands of years ago. Fire pits, exposing the ashes of ancient fires; charcoal pieces; beads; obsidian knives; ceramics & broken pottery; a human skeleton calcified in the limestone floor: all evidence of the flourishing ancient Maya civilization. Spectacular crystal formations cover the floors, walls, and ceiling–all calcite, creating a striking display. These formations, created centuries before, are nothing if not astounding.

Segment 1 - Introduction
In this episode, we talk with Francisco (Cisco), a well-known tour guide, about the Crystal Cave system. Cisco has been guiding for about ten years for an experienced operation called the Belize caving expedition. Cisco loves Belize and what he does and gets to introduce people to caves throughout Belize.

Simply getting to the cave is a difficult task; the trek through the jungle and the cave is very physically demanding. Getting in also requires you to rock climb and rappel, part of what makes it difficult. 

Crystal Cave is very close to St. Herman's cave, another cavern considered to be very easy with a flat, accessible entrance and exit. Crystal Cave, on the other hand, spirals down with only one entrance/exit. You can do the normal loop in half a day or go deeper and venture into Wonderland, a chamber of the cave that is heavy with geological formations. Guests of the Crystal Cave must be accompanied by a guide because it's very challenging and you could easily lose your way.

Airport Shuttle
Belize Ground Shuttle is a professional shuttle company operating daily shared shuttle service for travelers between San Ignacio, Placencia, Hopkins and the Belize International Airport ... more(BZE).
Segment 2A - The Preparation 
The Crystal Cave is unique and different from other caves because of the way you enter and exit: going straight up and down, but the glittering calcite embedded on top of the rocks is the main attraction. The calcite appears when the water drips on the formation and calcifies. It embeds on the formation and glitters significantly. 

Getting to the Crystal Cave is about a 1.5-hour drive from San Ignacio, but that's just the parking. You’ll then need to take another 45-60 minutes hiking.

Segment 2B - The Tour
From San Ignacio, you drive for an hour and a half to St. Herman’s National Park then hike for about 45-60 minutes until you get to the entrance. Unnecessary things are left in the van. When entering the first chamber, don’t touch the ceramics or white formations because they’re very fragile, but you can touch the brown formations as you walk the same path the Mayans once did.

In the cave, you’ll see a lot of stalagmites, pillars, columns, and stalactites of all different colors. Orange is iron oxide, white is calcite or calcium carbonate, yellow is sulfur, black is manganese minerals, and green and gray could be copper. In the first chamber, ceramics have been carbon-dated to around 750 AD. This is where Mayans did ceremonies to the rain god.

Getting to the next chamber involves crawling through tight spaces using the crab walk; you’ll most likely get dirty. This next chamber is where Mayans gave food offerings. It shows evidence of five ancient fire pits and ceramics. There is also a big formation is known as a Splattermite, a representation of corn to the Mayans. It happens as the water drips and splatters the microscopic mineral and the splatter develops the formation like a tree growing branches.

The next chamber is the bloodletting ritual chamber. Bloodletting is a ritual they did before human offerings, where they would cut off a body part to get the blood. They would then burn the blood along with Mayan incense on charcoal to release the aroma. 

Next, you go into the burial chamber where the remains of a male individual are found. The Mayans usually did human offerings by decapitation or head trauma, often extracting the heart. There were long periods of droughts throughout the Mayans' time which geologists know because, like trees, stalactites have rings. Continuing on, water has washed away the clay to reveal the remains of babies. Bone specialists analyzed the bones and determined that the remains were of a baby that was sacrificed around 950-1000 AD. The Mayans believed that offering a baby would be more intense because a baby is pure. 

After a bit more exploration, you can choose to leave or travel deeper to a special area known as Wonderland. Heavily concentrated geological features make Wonderland the highlight of the trip. However, the route is a bit more difficult to get to and you need to take your shoes off to lessen the impact on the cave. You must also leave your bags and only bring your camera; you’ll be back in about 30 minutes. In here, there’s no evidence of the Mayans. Scientists, and now you, venture in here solely for the beauty of the chamber. 

Once out, you’ll have lunch and swim in the pristine and stunning waters of the Blue Hole. With that, the tour of the Crystal Cave has come to an end. You can book this wondrous trip on belizing.com and can be sure that this will be one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever have.
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Experience world-class service at Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge Amid the forests of the Blue Hole National Park, this property offers free Wi-Fi access, private parking and free ... morebike rentals to sightsee the area. A tour desk is also available on site.

Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge’s accommodations are air conditioned, offer wardrobes and private bathrooms with showers. The chalet also has a dining area and a terrace.

The Creek Side Lounge serves early morning coffee services, late dining courses and all food is home-cooked. It is located in the third floor of the establishment.

The Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge offers panoramic views of the rural landscape, and is surrounded by a creek, rivers and forests. The use of kayaks is free of charge.

Belize City is 1 hour and 30 minutes’ drive away and the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve can be reached after a 70-minute drive. Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport is 1 hour and 40 minutes’ drive from the lodge.
Gold Certified:
Western Belize
Established in 1976, San Ignacio Resort Hotel is a Belizean and family-owned boutique Hotel located in the Cayo District, Western Belize. The Resort is centrally situated on a 17-acre ... moreprivate estate, 5-minutes away of Cahal Pech Maya temple and the popular San Ignacio Town—an area that features a variety of cultural, adventurous, and culinary experiences. This characteristic has dubbed the Resort as “the only jungle in town”.

The 27-room Resort is renowned for its hospitality services and features the award-winning Running W Restaurant (which showcases meats from the family’s ranch), an on-site tour company (Cayo Gial Tours), in-room wellness treatments, an outdoor swimming pool and tennis court area, the largest event facilities in the District, and the #1 Activity in San Ignacio, the Green Iguana Conservation Project.
Gold Certified:
San Ignacio
Western Belize
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Belize Caving Expeditions is a local, Belizean owned Tour operator focused on providing the finest quality experience to our visitors. We are experts in Belize travel and adventure ... moretours; also venturing into neighboring Guatemala to visit the famous Tikal Maya site. Our team of friendly, local Belizean guides have been leading tours into the Belizean rainforest for years and are proficient in archeology, caving expedition, jungle trekking, and canoeing. We offer a wide range of tour activities to popular sites such as Caracol, Barton Creek, Crystal Cave, and our specialty tour - the world-renowned Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave.
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San Ignacio Town
If you are an extreme cave explorer, Crystal Cave, also known as Mountain Cow Cave, is an adventure you just can't miss during your trip to Belize! This tour is not for the faint of ... moreheart and all participants must be able-bodied and accompanied by a certified guide. This site is located in the Blue Hole National Park which is located 12 miles southeast of Belmopan on the right side of the Hummingbird Highway. 

Caves played a very important role in ancient culture as the Mayas considered caves to be supernatural realm where their deities and ancestors resided. Caves were the portal between the tangible human world and the invisible world of the gods, a place called Xibalba. It was here that the ancient Mayan Shamans performed their most sacred rituals and ceremonies and this was the underground domain of their gods.

A guided exploration into this very spectacular cave system begins with a rigorous 50-minute hike on uneven jungle rainforest terrain. Then prepare for a steep downward walk that takes you miles down to huge caverns full of dazzling crystalline rock formations, you'll follow the same footpaths the Maya Shamans and priests once traveled to reach these ceremonial chambers. The guided tour will have participants crawling through cracks and crevices beholding spectacular cave formations, learning about its history and geology, as well as viewing ancient Mayan pottery, beads, obsidian knives, and even human skeletal remains that have been calcified in the limestone floor dating back 2,000 years. After a thrilling experience, you have the option of finishing off with a refreshing swim in the cool waters of the inland Blue Hole.

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Francisco Itza

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