Barton Creek Cave

Cayo District

Barton Creek rises high in the Mountain Pine Ridge and flows north to join the Belize River near Georgeville. Along the way it dips underground for a spell, flowing through the Barton Creek Cave. During the Classic Period, the ancient Maya interred at least 28 people and left thousands of pottery jars and fragments and other artifacts on 10 ledges. Today the cave is only accessible by canoe on excellent guided tours.

Canoe trips take you (in groups of eight or fewer per guide) about 800ft into the cave so you can get a look at the limestone cave formations, as well as the spooky skulls, bones and pottery shards that remain from the Maya. Numerous tours operate out of San Ignacio, or head to Mike's Place just outside the cave entrance, where guides will take you out without prebooking.

Even if you don't tour the cave, you can swim here for free and there's a restaurant and bar at Mike's Place.

There are two routes to the cave, both very rough and both turning off Chiquibul Rd. The main route on Upper Barton Creek Rd passes through the scattered traditional Mennonite farming community of Upper Barton Creek and fords Barton Creek itself, which means this route may be closed in high water. The second route along Seven Mile El Progresso Rd (follow the signs for Mike's Place) involves possibly the steepest road in Belize with a series of tight switchbacks descending into the valley – but no river crossings!