Grutas de Calcehtok
Lonely Planet review
The Calcehtok caves are said to comprise the longest dry-cave system on the Yucatán Peninsula. More than 4km have been explored so far, and two of the caves’ 25 vaults exceed 100m in diameter (one has a 30m-high ‘cupola’). The caves hold abundant and impressive natural formations, human and animal remains and plenty of artifacts, including cistern-like haltunes .
Archaeologists have found and removed ceramic arrowheads, quartz hammers and other tools, and you can still see low fortifications built by the Maya who sheltered here during the Caste War.
The opening of the main entrance is an impressive 30m in diameter and 40m deep, ringed by vegetation often buzzing with bees. It’s about 1m deep in bat guano at the bottom (some visitors wear dust masks to avoid infection from a fungus on the guano). There’s nothing to stop you from exploring on your own (and possibly getting lost), but you’d be wise to employ one of the six guides, all members of the Cuy family, whose great-grandfather rediscovered the caves in 1840. They carry lanterns and flashlights.
You can opt for a basic tour or an adventure package – one that involves belly-crawling, rope descents to see human skeletons and possibly the 7m long by 20cm wide ‘Pass of Death,’ or ‘El Parto’ (The Birth: you figure it out). Tours last one to six hours.
The caves are 75km southwest of Mérida off Hwy 184, a few kilometers south of the town of Calcehtok. They are best reached by car.