What lurks under the earth surface?
The realm of caves strikes our imagination
with its murky harmony and unbelievable landscapes. This world of never-ending night and undisturbed silence is strewn with breathtaking formations that can’t be found anywhere on the earth surface. You might have come across countless photos of stalactites and stalagmites in the internet, but it just can’t compare to seeing them with your own eyes! These amazing underground sculptures have been carefully built by nature century after century; this is a great book of history where the main geological events of each epoch are encoded in stone. If you are ready to discover the fascinating world of underground caves and find what lies yards below, we are glad to welcome you in Aktun-Chen!
The birth of stalactites
The word ‘stalactite’ translates from Greek as ‘to drip’ which gives a pretty good idea of how they are formed. Stalactites can be of different sizes and shapes, from lonely icicles scattered here and there to splendid arches extending meters along the cave walls. As a rule, they can be seen in limestone caves with a solid portion of calcite. This mineral is the main constituent of every stalactite. Here is how the process of their formation occurs:
- Stalactites agglomerate near cracks and leaks in the vault of the cave.
- These cracks allow rainwater to seep through the rock dissolving calcite and carrying it inside.
- Once exposed to dry air, calcite solidify again as it drips from the ceiling taking the shape of an icicle.
- Stalactites can keep grow for decades. It can take many centuries for a calcite icicle to reach its full size.
- Very often you can see stalactites coupled with stalagmites that appear in much the same way from calcite residue dripping from the icicle to the cave floor. The two formations can even meet half-way and form a column.
Set off for an amazing underground adventure!
A trip to the Aktun-Chen ecopark gives you a unique chance to visit one of the oldest and most beautiful underground caves in Mexico with water. Moreover, we will even invite you for a bath in an ancient cenote opening right into the jungle! Covered with incredible tracery of stalactites and stalagmites that stretch for over 700 yards, the cave used to be of a special importance to the ancient Mayas who considered it to be the home of nature spirits and the gates to the underworld. Long ago, Mayan shamans and priests used to descend here to invoke rain god Chaac pleading to send lavish rains upon their fields and bless the village with abundant crops. It seems you can still hear their voices and catch a glimpse of enigmatic shadows wandering in this mystical place. Can you feel goose bumps on your skin? Stop by at Aktun-Chen and touch the legend that lives under the dusky vault of our fabulous cave!