Footprint Cave, Actun Chek

Combine the fun of cave tubing with the thrill of exploring a cave filled with Mayan artifacts at Footprints Cave…

Footprint Cave, also known as Actun Chek in Maya, is a river-cave on an unnamed river that originates from the Maya Mountains. The river is swallowed through an underground waterway before emerging again in the jungle about 10 miles before the entrance of Footprint Cave. After a short hike you’ll jump in the river on your inner tube floating along the jungle and then into the cave. While this tour does involve some cave tubing, it’s not the traditional Cave Tubing at Caves Branch. While both are river-caves, only the Caves Branch caves form unbroken tunnels that you can float right through. At Footprints, the same entrance that you tube into is the same entrance you tube out of at the end. This caving expedition is run exclusively by Caves Branch Adventure Co..

Once inside the cave you’ll climb out of the river and begin exploring the chambers of the cave. You’ll find amazing cave formations ranging from large cathedral chambers to crystalline flow stones. However, the true beauty of Footprints Cave is its collection of Maya artifacts. Archeological exploration revealed that the cave was used for the extraction of clay and other minerals. Although such caves are known in the Yucatan, it is the only one in Belize with evidence of clay extraction. There are 3 areas of red clay deposits that contain clear signs of human digging. At the most interior clay mining site, located 450 meters (1500 feet) from the cave entrance, a clay monkey face was sculpted by the Maya complete with a ceramic jar placed immediately below it for offerings. Even further back in the cave, past the limits of the tour, is a set of Maya footprints, giving the cave its name.

Archeologists theorize that these caves were used for ritual activity. The fact that the locations they used were deep within the cave and associated with ceremonial features such as the clay monkey face all support this theory. In another location in the cave, a finely chipped flint knife was found, similar to the sacrificial knives used by the Maya. All of this suggests that the clay may have been used specifically for making ceremonial vessels painted with scenes of the underworld, which they called Xibalba (Place of Fright).

Plan your Belize Vacation

  • Here’s a list of Hotels & Resorts where you can stay to visit Footprints Cave

 

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3 Comments

  1. jermaine baker, 11 months ago

    this is a awesome post i love the pictures now i want to go to belize looks like you guys had a blast

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  2. OzS, 4 years ago

    A nice little thrip for the relatively unadventurous or when ricers are too high or low for other things. Best seen before ATM or (if levels are comfortably high, river tubing). Barely a full day, more a long half day. Without ‘lunch in cave’ (uninspired) it would be a half day.

    Note that the monkey god has now morphed into a fertility god with rather contrived stalactite shadow plays, probably more to pad out the time like the lunch is.

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  3. Alex Gamero, 6 years ago

    Footprints cave has lots of Mayan artifacts. You’ll find flint blades and lots of pottery used by the Maya for their sacred rituals. The highlight is an eerie monkey face formed out of clay found deep inside the cave. In addition, the geology of the cave is really nice. The huge echoing cathedral chambers are awe inspiring. The tubing down the river and into the cave is adds a lot of fun to this caving adventure.

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