Sunday, December 19, 2004

Actun Tunichil Muknal

Whilst most of you were battling the crowds during Christmas shopping or nursing your hang-over after the office Christmas party, Andy and I were out caving. We joined our tour guide Gonzo on an Achtun Tunichil Muknal trip. It was brilliant! Tough and chilly at times, but brilliant!

To get to the mouth of the cave, you first have to hike through the jungle for about half an hour and wade through the Roaring River three times. Gonzo showed us lots of medicinal plants along the way and encouraged us to eat a few termites (he was right, they really do taste like carrots!)

Once you're at the cave, the real adventure begins. To enter the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave you have to swim across icy cold water and for most of the three hour caving trip, you are walking in this cold and fast flowing water, trying desperately not to slip and land up in the deeper ends (I did several times and could not feel my fingers for much of the trip)

After about hour and a half, you end up on "dry land" again, where you continue the journey on your socks. This is to prevent people from stepping on the artifacts that are all around. I mean, it's amazing. There are just lots and lots of ancient pottery and human remains. Yes, that's right, we're talking skulls and bones here. From the remains of an infant to a young male with a bulbous skull. These people were all sacrificed to the River God, who was believed to live in the cave.

The whole trip is mind-blowing! It certainly isn't for everybody, but that's part of the appeal too, I guess. This is one place where you are sure never to bumb into large crowds of cruise ship passenger. It's only for those with an adventurous mind.

By the way, click here to see the page that Andy has just made for Actun Tunichil Muknal trip.(including a slideshow)