Belizean Caves Adventure
Bio: This post was written by Tali Wee who currently lives in Seattle and blogs about life in the northwest. She owns Wee Picket Fences where she writes about being a new homeowner and foodie. Tali works at Zillow where she handles the community outreach for Charlotte, NC. She enjoys family, food, travel, writing and spending time on projects around the house.
Let’s Go On a Belizean Caves Adventure!!!
I adore travel because it inspires new perspectives. Getting out of town and jumping into new cultures helps travelers shift their attention from the daily hustle to the surroundings of their environment. Nature is all around, but sometimes it takes a vacation to really grasp how awe-inspiring nature can be.
I recently traveled to the Cayo district of Belize which is an agricultural area in the West portion of the country, bordering Guatemala. Along the Caves Branch River there’s a system of naturally-formed caves, once used as ceremonial grounds by ancient Mayans. The sheer magnitude of the cave’s chambers and natural formations were breathtaking.
Stalagmites jutted up from the floor, some as tall as buildings. Stalactites dripped down from the top of the caves, even meeting some stalagmites forming columns. These pillars were incredible obstacles to squeeze passed, around, over and under. The remnants of fallen stalactites lay piled on the ground reminding me of the potential danger I was surrounded by. Relics of human sacrifices, small fires and tools lay in Mayan ceremonial chambers which created an eerie atmosphere in some areas.
The caves have been around for thousands of years, creating massive formations one drip at a time. Countless people of many cultures found sanctuary in the exact locations I was hiking through. I felt so minute, so small amidst such scale.
Everything was moist, even the air. Some of the formations dripped actively, but each looked alive like the flowing water and minerals that created them. Some edges were covered with what appeared to be millions of slimy drips but they were actually solid straw formations. In order to get to the next chamber, I climbed a wall made of slippery clay. Even these walls graduated like rolling hills, slick with moisture. The entire cave was like a living, moving being.
Beautiful formations created pools of aqua-blue water like the most luxurious man-made pools imaginable. Some were only a couple inches deep, and others more than 7 feet deep. I swam through dark water, jumped off waterfalls into pools and climbed steep cliffs – all inside a massive cave system. It was unbelievable. Nature is remarkable.
The cave was quiet at first. As I hiked deeper into the cave, the sound of rushing water became louder and louder. It seemed as though a wave of water was approaching at all times. If it had, there would have been no escape. When I reached the waterfalls, the sound was so loud it resonated in my chest. I could not be heard shouting by the person right next to me, but it was peaceful.
Originally, I feared the mysterious darkness of a wet cave. Beforehand, the idea of squeezing through small spaces in the habitat of bats, catfish and scorpion spiders seemed inconceivably creepy. Once inside, the beauty of such ancient formations captured my attention. The bats made the space feel alive and I welcomed their screeching as it broke the thundering sound of water in the distance. I’m afraid of spiders, but inside the cave the massive scorpion spiders seemed docile and nonthreatening. I did have a couple panicked moments of claustrophobia which were followed by immense relief as I would discover the next massive chamber with bats and a light breeze.
Scorpion Spider – CREEPY (Photos by Tali Wee)
The marvelous aspects of nature changed my perspective. To this day, the two mile hike and waterfall climb through the caves in Belize was the most amazing adventure in nature that I have ever experienced. I was challenged physically and emotionally, and inspired by the tremendous yet concealed creations of nature. I felt closer to nature than ever before. My experience was magnified because it was in a mostly unexplored area of this Earth.
There are few aspects of nature less photographed than caves or the deep sea because they are so dark and deep. Tons of lighting equipment needs to be transported to capture the true beauty of these dark places; and with lighting, the entire mood changes. A photograph cannot truly capture the mysterious beauty of a cave.
As I hiked out, I collected as many mental pictures of the cave as possible. It was truly stunning.