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Over the millennia, as dozens of swift-flowing rivers bored through the soft limestone, the Maya Mountains became pitted with miles of caves. The Maya used them as burial sites, and, according to one theory, as subterranean waterways that linked the Cayo with communities as far north as the Yucatán. Previously, the caves fell into a 1,000-year slumber, disturbed only by the nightly flutter of bats. In recent years the caves have been rediscovered by spelunkers. Caves Branch Adventure Co. & Jungle Camp. First on the scene was Ian Anderson of Caves Branch Adventure Co. & Jungle Camp. He and his friendly staff of trained guides run exhilarating adventure-theme caving, tubing, and hiking trips from an upscale jungle camp just south of Belmopan. They also run day and overnight kayaking trips in the Cayo District. 12 mi south of Belmopan, Mile 42 1/2, Hummingbird Hwy., Belmopan. 866/357–2698. 610/3451. www.cavesbranch.com.
PACZ Tours. PACZ specializes in tours to the spooky, wonderful Actun Tunichil Muknal near Belmopan (BZ$220 for a day tour, and BZ$560 for an overnight trip) with its Mayan relics but also other Mayan tours, including ones to Tikal and Caracol. The day tour to Tikal is BZ$290 and includes transportation from downtown San Ignacio, lunch, border fees, admission to Tikal and guides. The full-day Caracol tour is BZ$220 and includes transportation from downtown San Ignacio, admission fees, guide, lunch and stops at some sites in the Mountain Pine Ridge including Rio On and Rio Frio cave. 30 Burns Ave., San Ignacio, San Ignacio. 824/0536; 604/6921 cell phone, after 8 pm. www.pacztours.net.
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