Chechem Ha (Poison Water Cave), is a Mayan Ceremonial Cave, known to be a major tourist destination. It is located 8 miles southeast of Benque at the start of the Maya Mountains of Belize. – Wikipedia
Chechem Ha Cave consists of a main chamber filled with rocks lined up which is believed to have been used for sacred Mayan rituals dating from the middle preclassic period (900-300BC) to the late classic period (700-850AD). Also, there are many chambers found high up within the cave which contain many large pottery vessels which may have been used to collect ‘pure water’ to be used for their rituals.
The Cave lies within a private farmland belonging to the Moralez family. One fateful day, Mr. Moralez was out on the field with his sons and dog when they stumbled upon the cave system which would change their lives forever. One story has it that they were out in search of cohune leaves (used for building thatched roofs) when they made the discovery. Another has it that their dog fell into a hole and upon jumping in to rescue him, they found it to be a sacrificial cave.
They found that the cave lead deeper inside with many broken potteries which the Ancient Maya used in their sacred ceremonies. The Maya believed that these caves were the entrance to Xibalba – the “Underworld” and that it (the underworld) encompassed 9 of the 22 layers of life which made up the world in which they lived. Here, they would leave offerings to their gods (presumably to their rain god Chaac during times of drought), sometimes even in the form of human sacrifices. One astonishing example of this can be seen at the ATM Cave where many human remains lay preserved by natural calcification, one in particular – the Crystal Maiden.
Today, the site is managed by the Archaeological department of Belize and since the site is within a private property, it can only be accessed through the Moralez Family, accompanied by their resident guide.
Starts: 8:00AM Ends: 12:00PM
Getting There: Your adventure begins at 8:00 AM with an approx. 35 minutes’ drive which leads you through the westernmost Town of Benque Viejo, along the Arenal Road (the road the the Vaca Falls Dam), then onto a cut-off road through farmlands and onto the Moralez’s farm within which the cave system lies.
At the cave entrance: Upon reaching the Moralez’s farm, you will un-board the vehicle to embark on a 45 minutes hike through the jungle trail that leads to the cave entrance. At the cave entrance, you’ll notice that the mouth of the cave has been decorated with a Maya motif and has been reinforced with metal bars to keep any looters away.
As you enter the cave you will start to see broken pieces of ancient clay pots and will also notice a change towards a fresher and more moist atmosphere. This cave is not as spectacular in terms of its formations (stalactites & stalagmites) as other caves in Belize, however; what makes this cave truly amazing is the size of the pots left behind by the Maya (some of which were used to collect water seeping through the limestone to use in their rituals), their intactness and their numbers in this cave.
As you progress deeper into the cave you will come upon ladders that lead to higher chambers within the main cave system. This is where the most impressive Maya relics can be appreciated. It’s amazing how upfront and close you will have these ancient relics, almost at the tip of your finger. However, you are cautioned not to touch any of these relics as they are understandably fragile and priceless.
Enjoy the enchantment of this Indiana-Jones-like adventure as you explore this wonderful Ancient Maya World, a most worthwhile experience.
Departure: Upon completion of your tour, you’ll head back through the trail and back onto the Moralez’s farm where you’ll board the vehicle back through Benque Viejo Town and onto your next adventure. This is a half day tour which is best done in combination with any other half day tour, in this case you’ll be heading over to the Cave Tubing Site for your next adventure.
Duration: Approx. 4 hours
Difficulty level: Active
What to Bring: Sneakers with good traction or hiking boots, preferably long trouser pants, hat, camera, water.
Provided: Waters and snacks.
Note: This tour is not for persons with disabilities, heart conditions, back or leg problems, or claustrophobia. All guests must be in good physical conditions & able to walk in a jungle setting.
TAKE A REAL LIFE JOURNEY THROUGH THE MAYA UNDERWORLD “XIBALBA”
This tour is normally done in combination with any other half day tour (in this case, with Chechem Ha Cave) If you’re visiting with children or non-swimmers please let us know this ahead.
Starts: 2:00AM Ends: 6:00PM
Getting There: The adventure begins soon after you’ve had lunch after your morning tour (in this case Chechem Ha). We embark from Rumors Resort (lunch venue) passing through San Ignacio. This is about a 1 hour and 15 minutes’ drive on the George Price Highway (paved road) until arriving at the junction of the Nohoch Che’en Cave Tubing (Caves Branch Outpost). The drive into the site’s parking lot is another 10 minutes or so on paved road.
At the site: Upon arriving at the parking lot, you guide checks you in with the ranger. Here you can use the expansive restroom complex to change into your swimwear if you haven’t as yet done so. Your guide then walks you over to the tube racks where you’ll pick a tube of your choice. We provide you with life jackets, helmets, and headlamps.
Once we’re all geared up, we then embark on a 45 minutes’ hike across the clear blue Caves Branch River. At this crossing there’s a rope across the river to assist you crossing. The water is waist-deep, typically. After the river crossing, we start off along a jungle trail heading upstream alongside the river. Your guide will point out interesting aspects of the local flora & fauna as we trek through – perfect time to take out your cameras (preferably water proof).
Upon arrival at the designated starting point, your guide will brief you on the proper safety techniques for boarding & floating on your tube. If you’re adventurous, you’ll want to dive or splash into the water from a rock at the starting point. From here, your guide will set you afloat through a series of cavers which periodically open up to the sunshine & jungle. When the water current is strong, you’ll be tied up into a cluster (like a train) with ropes so as to avoid anyone straying away. Your guide will occasionally point out various Maya artifacts within the crevices of the caves. Depending on time availability, he may allow you to unboard your tube & walk up for a closer look if you wish.
Departing: Since you’ll be ending back at the river crossing downstream, you’ll only be needing to get out of the river and head back on a short trek to the parking lot. Here we’ll deposit our tubes and then we’re free to change into our dry clothes. Once everyone is all dried up, we board the vehicle and head back onto the George Price Highway and onto San Ignacio, arriving around 5:30 or 6:00PM depending on individual pace.
Duration: Approx. 4 hours (at Nohoch Che’en Cave Tubing)
Difficulty level: Moderate
What to Bring: Water Shoes (no flip-flops or open toe sandals), lightweight Shorts, Lightweight shirt, change of clothes, Sunscreen, Insect Repellant, Water, Camera (must be water proof).
Provided: we provide you with helmet, head lamp, life jackets, and towels.
Cave Tubing GoMaya family portrait
Cave Tubing GoMaya Cave
Cave Tubing GoMaya Cave 1 exit
Cave Tubing Cave Exploration GoMaya
The monkey man at Chechem Ha
Chechem Ha Upper Chamber
Chechem Ha Sacrificial Pots
Chechem Ha climb
Chechem Ha Cave Tour Belize
Cave Tubing Adventure GoMaya
Cave Tubing Cave Stalagtites GoMaya
Cave Tubing Cave 2 GoMaya
Chechem Ha Cave pots intact
Chechem Ha Cave Entrance
Chechem Ha Belize