Actun Tunichil Muknal

Photo Credit: © Antti T. Nissinen CC BY

At once an adventurous site to seek out and an important spot in terms of Mayan culture, Actun Tunichip Muknal (or the Cave of the Crystal Sepulchre, Xibalba, or ATM) is a popular attractions near San Ignacio. The site is best seen with the help of a tour guide, so make sure to seek one out if you aren't already going on a tour of the area that includes a trip into the cave.

ATM is particularly interesting to visitors because of the numerous ceramics, stoneware, and skeletons found on site. The ceramics seem to mark "kill holes" which tells scientists that this was a ceremonial site for the Mayans were sacrifices likely took place, hence the skeletons. Once such skeleton, which has been calcified so that it has a crystallized appearance is known as the Crystal Maiden and has been found to be the bones of a teenage girl.

Many people also visit the cave for the wealth of animal life that exists within including tropical fish, freshwater crabs, crayfish, catfish, predatory spiders, agouti, otters, and Belize.


Actun Tunichil Muknal can be found in Central Belize, in Belize; it's 12 miles (19 and a half kilometers) to the south west of Belmopan.

The cave is located on the property of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve near San Ignacio, Cayo District.

Nearby Restaurants

If the time you spend exploring this cave gets your stomach stomach growling, there's no need to fret -- you're going to find a plentiful supply of food and drink providers in this area. Calico Jack's, which serves Belizean food, is also the most convenient dining option from the cave. It's maybe about three and a half miles from this cave, so check it out and eat up! Also within a short distance, you'll find restaurants like Hidden Valley Inn Restaurant and Gumbolimbo Village Restaurant where you and your party will want to try a bite of International food and experience the Belize culture.

Nearby Attractions

Additional local activities include Hidden Valley Falls, which is five miles away Central Belize. You might want to also think about making the trip to Green Hills Butterfly Farm, which is another attraction in the area.

With a selection of nearby activities, you'll never run out of ways to stay busy. Attractions close-by can be found in the following table.

Attractions Near Actun Tunichil Muknal
Attraction Type Distance Direction Location
Hidden Valley Falls GeoFeature 5.1 mi. (22.7 km) SE 14.1 mi. South-Southwest of Belmopan
Green Hills Butterfly Farm Other Attraction 5.7 mi. (12.7 km) W 7.9 mi. East-Southeast of San Ignacio
San Antonio Waterfall GeoFeature 8.5 mi. (9.4 km) W 5.8 mi. Southeast of San Ignacio
Garcia Sisters Tanah Mayan Art Museum Other Attraction 9.1 mi. (10.0 km) W 6.2 mi. Southeast of San Ignacio

More Information


The cave often closes in the rainy season when rain causes the water level of the river to rise and there is a danger of flooding the cave.


In order to minimize the impact of people walking through such a historically significant plot of land, visitors are asked to remove their shoes and socks before walking through the upper dry chamber. Additionally, cameras are not allowed into the cave unless prior permission has been given since a tourist dropped a camera on a skill and broke it.

Location: Central Belize, Belize



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