After an hour’s drive from San Ignacio, our tour group landed at a path leading in the dense jungle of Belize. Together, we hiked through the sweltering jungle to the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave system.
We climbed into the cool waters and swam across the cave mouth into the cave. With our camera gear in dry bags, we clambered through the cave system, sometimes up to our necks in the frigid cave river.
Our group arrived at a huge precipice, which we climbed and entered into a room called the Cathedral. In the 8th and 9th century A.D, the Mayan people sacrificed children and youth to the rain gods. The rivers had long since silted over and wells were drying up.
Pictured above is the crystal maiden; she is 18 years old and was killed through blunt force trauma nearly 1,200 years ago. Her body has become crystalized in the damp cave environment.