Leap(s) of Faith – Waterfall Cave Expedition, Caves Branch, Belize

The words “waterfall” and “cave” sound weird together. Is it a waterfall inside a cave? A cave formed by a waterfall? Heck, let’s just go find out. That’s how we ended up signing up for the Waterfall Cave Expedition (US$90 including transportation, gear, guides and lunch) at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Co. & Jungle Lodge during our travels in Belize. We’d already done the Black Hole Drop rappelling trip with them but this trip added darkness and water to the equation.

Esperanza, a very rare (and very awesome) female adventure guide, prepping us for the physical challenges ahead of us.


After a 20 minute hike through the jungle (the easy part) we reached the mouth of the cave–and the last of our daylight. From here on out we entered a world of profound darkness (except for our headlamps).

The welcoming committee hanging around waiting for us.


The cave floor is a riverbed but excursions (sometimes on our butts or hands and knees) up into side chambers above the main flow lead us into various “rooms” which the ancient Mayan used as spaces for what archaeologists believe were sacred rituals aimed at gaining favor with the Gods of the Underworld, a feared and revered place they called Xibalba.

One of many massive chambers within the cave where evidence of Mayan ceremonies have been found, including fire sites and pottery shards.


We saw lots of ritual remains during our trip inside the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave but the artifacts and ritual sites on this trip rivaled what we saw in the ATM, minus the skeletons. And, because this cave is owned by Ian Anderson, we were the only group inside it unlike the much-more-famous ATM cave which can get crowded.

A fire site and pot used during ancient Mayan rituals deep inside the cave.


With six waterfalls inside the cave, this trip definitely had the ATM trip beat when it came to physical challenges and adrenaline. Each waterfall had to be climbed on the way into the cave, then leapt off or rappelled down on the way back out of the cave. Jumping off a waterfall inside a cave in near darkness into a pitch black pool of water that you’re trusting is deep enough and obstruction-free lends new meaning to the phrase leap of faith.

One of six waterfalls inside the cave that must be climbed up, then rappelled or jumped down.


The Waterfall Cave Expedition is as fun as it looks in this video.


Karen rappelling down one of six waterfalls that have to be navigated during the Waterfall Cave Expedition.

A perfectly flat boulder in the middle of a pitch black roomy inner chamber of the cave made a perfect picnic table. Can you believe the guides carried in a white tablecloth?

Water and time continue to build upon natural cave sculptures like this.

What remains of a site used by the ancient Mayans during sacred ceremonies inside the cave.

Water and time continue to build upon natural cave sculptures like this amazing drape formation.

In the rainy season water cascades down this slope inside the cave, forming pools and leaving behind sparkly minerals.


Read more about travel in Belize



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10 comments on “Leap(s) of Faith – Waterfall Cave Expedition, Caves Branch, Belize

  1. Cool!! There is a very similar attraction in Puerto Rico, Called the Camuy Caves. I went there several times as a kid on school field trips–awesome place! All your pictures remind me of these Camuy Caves. It always blows my mind how so many similar (or exact!) natural attarctions can be found all over the world. As if Mother Nature wanted to be fair and give the opportunity to everyone to see 😉
    Maria recently posted..#Travel bucket list photos: White Desert, Egypt (moon on Earth!)My Profile

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