Come and see why we are the number 3 Top Ten Underground Walk according to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC enjoy
THE LARGEST DRY CAVE in the state.
During its existence, mankind has applied great effort to explore every kilometer of our planet, from its highest peaks to its deepest caves. And
although most of our world has already been put on the map, we still have this spirit of adventure inside us. If you want to make your life
more versatile and make a few discoveries of your own, there one thing you can’t miss and it’s called caving. What is it and what do you need to pursue
As you can guess from the name, it is somehow connected with caves. Simply put, it’s about exploring various sorts of caves, from tiny grottos to huge
underground complexes extending for many miles. For some people, caving is just an entertainment allowing them to take a break from daily routine and
see the side of the world they had no idea about. Other people take it quite seriously, though. They consider caving to be a kind of sport that requires a lot of time,
courage and persistence. Experienced cavists can spend days, weeks and even months underground, away from sunlight and fresh air. They devote their life
to investigating the winding stone tunnels, their geology and formations, mysterious cave flora and fauna. Quite often, that results in amazing discoveries.
Of course, such a cave quest is also a challenge to one’s physical limits, endurance and willpower. After all, it’s not that easy to cast aside your needs
and habits and switch to an entirely different biorhythm.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to go through all this in Aktun-Chen! What we offer is an exciting yet totally safe and comfortable excursion across
one of the oldest caves in the Riviera Maya that has been around since the dawn of time! But before we venture inside, let’s learn more about this
amazing geological phenomenon.
We rarely wonder how old some parts of our world actually are. All around us, things constantly change and it’s hard to imagine that there can be formations
on earth dating back thousands and even millions of years ago. Just think of it, that’s older than the entire human civilization! But some
of them did survive until our time. One of such natural wonders happens to be located in our park.
The Aktun-Chen grotto is estimated to have formed approximately 5 million years ago. For a long time, it was part of the huge coral reef. During the ice
age, the sea levels decreased and the reef rose to the surface forming a limestone platform for the Yucatan Peninsula. When the coral died, it was
overgrown with jungle. However, the soil was highly porous and sensitive to acid. Over the centuries, it has been dissolved by acidic tropical rainfall
resulting in a formation of stalactites and stalagmites. Eventually, many of the caverns collapsed and were flooded when the ice age came to an end around
18,000 years ago and the glaciers melted. Covered with an intricate tracery of limestone formations, shimmering mysteriously in the dusk, the Aktun-Chen
cave is a place you can wander about for hours. It is a sizeable underground complex extending for nearly 700 yard. But don’t be afraid to get lost, our guide
will be with you every step of the way. Pay special attention to signs warning visitors to stay away from certain parts of the grotto where the
rock mass is unstable and may pose a danger to your life. Although you are free to have a look around on your own, it’s always safer to stick to the guide
and avoid any dangerous-looking tunnels.
As you walk underground, you see a vast panorama of stalactites hanging from the ceiling. This stone icicles form out of minerals dissolved in water. When rainfalls
seep through the cracks in the rock, they get rich in different minerals and carries them inside the cave. Once the water contacts the air, minerals
solidify again in the shape of icicles. This process may take decades and even centuries. Over this time, stalactites grow in size. Some of them are much older than
you may think. Near big cracks, you can see what geologists call curtains – thin calcite formations resembling flowing water that froze in motion.
Just like stalactites, stalagmites are minerals that were dissolved in water and dripped from the stalactites to the floor where they solidified. The only
difference is that they point upwards. You can often observe stalactites and stalagmites in pairs. It happens that they even join into columns edging the
passageway. Is it any wonder the ancient Maya considered caves to be sacred places inhabited by spirits?
There is one more type of underground formations called cascades. These are reliefs formed on the walls around large leaks where water was flowing rather than dripping
creating a recognizable wavy pattern on the surface of the limestone. In Aktun-Chen, you can observe immense areas covered with cascades of various shapes.
They resemble sophisticated ancient reliefs carefully sculpted by the deft hands of nature.
Sounds interesting? That’s just a beginning! You’ll get a full tour of the grotto that covers all main places of interest. Our guide will tell you the exciting story
of this underground complex, from its formation to the time when it was discovered by the ancient Mayas who considered it to be a sanctuary of rain spirits allegedly
living in the Aktun-Chen cenote. They used to descend into the dusk of the grotto to perform their enigmatic rituals and invoke rain god Chaac. Because the Mayas
resided in a very dry area, fresh water from cenotes was often the only to be found in the vicinity. That explains the vital role played by cenotes in the life of
this ancient civilization. By the way, you will also get a chance to swim and snorkel in this amazing underground lake opening right into the tropical forest. Although
the world of caves seems to be dark and gloomy, it is full of life. In its murky tunnels, you will see plenty of exotic animals including bats, coatis, and even blind
fishes with transparent bodies. The Aktun-Chen grotto is definitely one of the most spectacular and memorable places in the entire Mexico! A cave quest
in our natural park guarantees you a great time spent out in the open and unforgettable impressions! We are always glad to welcome new visitors and show them the
wonderful treasures of the Aktun-Chen reserve!