ATM Cave Tour Unfiltered

THE ATM Cave Tour UNFILTERED- Fitness level, Pricing, What to bring and Expect.

SPOILER ALERT!  Here you will find the unfiltered truth about the ATM cave, what you will face in the cave, how physical it is, confined spaces, what you will need and pricing.   Not to damper the hype of excitement for this adventurous journey, just to keep it real for those folks that read all that’s out there and get too scared to do this.  You can do it!  So if you’re a bold and daring soul and love the thrill of the unexpected maybe skip down to the pricing and what to bring section.

Physical Fitness Level

When we began researching the ATM cave there were many varied responses related to the physical fitness level needed to embark on this perilous adventure that only ‘India Jones’ would partake in.  While my husband and I are athletic and enjoy outdoor activities, we are in no way shape or form Indiana Jones level adventurers and we did the cave!  I would say, though, that you do need to be in moderate shape and stable on your feet as you will be walking around 5 hours and in the cave, you will be walking on some slippery and uneven ground.

You a probably also wondering about the swimming, while knowing how to swim is preferred it is not 100% necessary as the guide will give you a life vest and the streams you cross have ropes that you can hang on to lead you across.  Once in the cave you are mostly wading, there were only a couple places for a few minutes at a time where I could not touch the base of the cave.

Am I going to have to rock climb through the cave?  There is only one place where there is a steep climb into the ceremonial chamber.  There are places both for your feet and hands to grab on to, while a bit slippery it really isn’t that bad.

There were older people that were in our group and the had a great time.  Our guide said an 85 year old woman did it as well as an 8 year old kid!

So again, if your stable on your feet and in relatively good shape you should be able to do it.  Yes, you might be scared in some places but conquering you fears and experiencing the world’s treasures is what life is all about.

The Caves Confined Spaces

You think your claustrophobic and the tunnels, passageways, and tight squeezes freaks you out.  Let me ease your mind a bit.  A large portion of the cave is quite large and open.  The tightest spot in the cave is one opening where you must turn your head sideways then strait which opens into a larger portion of the cave.  This is one of the fears Johnny had going into the tour, but he admitted that it was not that bad, as its quick and opens to a big space after you are through.  Now obviously if your clinically diagnosed claustrophobic I do not advise you to do the tour, but for those of us who knows it’s an irrational fear, it’s a great time to face it in a reasonable setting.

Creepy Crawlies

What about the bats, spiders, and ancient scorpion-like amblypygid?  We did see some bats, but they didn’t bother us.  I HATE spiders and would probably have freaked out if one had crawled on me.  We did not see any spiders or scorpion-like creatures on our tour.  I am sure they probably are there but I don’t think its infested so badly that they will affect you on our tour.  Use your light and watch out for them and you should be fine.

When to Go

This depends on what is important to you weather, rainfall, price, and/or crowds.  Now it is in the RAIN forest so there is no guarantee that you won’t get any rain but generally the rainy season runs from June to November.  The peak tourist season is from the mid November until April, where you will have the highest pricing as well and the biggest groups of people heading out to the cave, and therefore less attention from the guide.  The early months of May and June when rainfall is just beginning, are a good time to do the tour as you can you can escape the tourist rush, the heavy rainfall and get a good price.

We went the first week of November and it poured on us, and we still ended up loving it, so either way it will be a blast!

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Pricing and Logistics

The pricing of the tour ranges is approximately ~$95 USD which can go down and up slightly depending on the season and if you need to be shuttled in.  We went during the off season (first week of November) and used Maya Walk tour company.  We met them at their tour office in San Ignacio and paid $85 USD per person.  You meet for the tour at the office between 7am and 8am depending on the company and get back between 3pm and 4pm.  The tour takes approximately 8 hours and lunch (Typically: chicken, rice and beans, and salad or vegetarian option) is provided in the price of the tour.

These are the logistics for tours out of San Ignacio and would change slightly if you are starting out of another location or are being shuttled in that morning.

Logistics: What to Bring/Wear:

  • Sturdy water shoes or tennis shoes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Swimwear or clothes you don’t mind getting wet (seeing the theme here?)
  • socks (mandatory for preservation reasons)
  • extra set of dry clothing, extra sandals/flip flops
  • small backpack
  • liter of water
  • bug spray
  • snacks
  • NO CAMERA is allowed on the tour
  • Leave all valuables on the bus or don’t bring them at all

Our tour provided croc-like water shoes with full backs that we used because your feet will be fully submerged multiple times.  You can wear your tennis shoes, but if you plan to wear the shoes the next day you might consider either getting some sturdy water shoes or doing a tour that provides shoes.  You also have to bring socks with you to walk around the burial site in order to best preserve the living museum.   Finally, since you are going to be pretty much totally soaked by the end you also must bring and extra set of clothing and shoes to change into after the tour is over.

We met at the tour office, bright and early at 7:20 am.   Once there I learned that I am not going to eat until like 1 or 2pm, and my fear of getting hungry set in so we ran to a bakery and grabbed yummy cinnamon bread so that we can carb up before the big swim.  Literally.

The lesson here is to eat a big breakfast early, or bring a bunch of snacks to eat on the bus since you won’t have lunch until 1 or 2pm. Once you exit the bus you leave most of your belongings there and usually just bring your water (1 Liter or ~34 ounces) and some snacks that can get wet or that you can easily carry over your head due to the wading/swimming you will do during the tour.

After your ~45 minute hike/swim through the jungle you arrive at the site of the cave where you will be asked to leave ALL of your belongings behind for the ~3 hour venture into the cave.  The key is to not bring anything valuable to this point, which includes your CAMERA.  You can’t bring one on the tour so I suggest leaving it on the bus and just taking before and after photos at the park entrance.  The tour usually will provide some photos of the cave via email.

All you bring in the cave is yourself, with your super cool spelunking helmet and light.  You can’t even really bring in water (unless for medical reasons), which I had a slight freak out about because I drink a lot of water and 3 hours with no water???? AHHHHHH do I have to face all my neurotic fears today??  Yes, I am dramatic.  The guide brings a bottle just in case people need it and I ended up not even really needing or thinking about it while I was in the cave.  Fear conquered.

Just Do It

Overall yes, the ATM cave tour is considered adventure-fun and scary at times, but totally doable for most people!  It’s a great place to go a little out of your comfort zone, face some fears and have an amazingly unique experience in the process.

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THE ATM Cave Tour UNFILTERED- Fitness level, Pricing, What to bring and Expect.

SPOILER ALERT!  Here you will find the unfiltered truth about the ATM cave, what you will face in the cave, how physical it is, confined spaces, what you will need and pricing.   Not to damper the hype of excitement for this adventurous journey, just to keep it real for those folks that read all that’s out there and get too scared to do this.  You can do it!  So if you’re a bold and daring soul and love the thrill of the unexpected maybe skip down to the pricing and what to bring section.

Physical Fitness Level

When we began researching the ATM cave there were many varied responses related to the physical fitness level needed to embark on this perilous adventure that only ‘India Jones’ would partake in.  While my husband and I are athletic and enjoy outdoor activities, we are in no way shape or form Indiana Jones level adventurers and we did the cave!  I would say, though, that you do need to be in moderate shape and stable on your feet as you will be walking around 5 hours and in the cave, you will be walking on some slippery and uneven ground.

You a probably also wondering about the swimming, while knowing how to swim is preferred it is not 100% necessary as the guide will give you a life vest and the streams you cross have ropes that you can hang on to lead you across.  Once in the cave you are mostly wading, there were only a couple places for a few minutes at a time where I could not touch the base of the cave.

Am I going to have to rock climb through the cave?  There is only one place where there is a steep climb into the ceremonial chamber.  There are places both for your feet and hands to grab on to, while a bit slippery it really isn’t that bad.

There were older people that were in our group and the had a great time.  Our guide said an 85 year old woman did it as well as an 8 year old kid!

So again, if your stable on your feet and in relatively good shape you should be able to do it.  Yes, you might be scared in some places but conquering you fears and experiencing the world’s treasures is what life is all about.

The Caves Confined Spaces

You think your claustrophobic and the tunnels, passageways, and tight squeezes freaks you out.  Let me ease your mind a bit.  A large portion of the cave is quite large and open.  The tightest spot in the cave is one opening where you must turn your head sideways then strait which opens into a larger portion of the cave.  This is one of the fears Johnny had going into the tour, but he admitted that it was not that bad, as its quick and opens to a big space after you are through.  Now obviously if your clinically diagnosed claustrophobic I do not advise you to do the tour, but for those of us who knows it’s an irrational fear, it’s a great time to face it in a reasonable setting.

Creepy Crawlies

What about the bats, spiders, and ancient scorpion-like amblypygid?  We did see some bats, but they didn’t bother us.  I HATE spiders and would probably have freaked out if one had crawled on me.  We did not see any spiders or scorpion-like creatures on our tour.  I am sure they probably are there but I don’t think its infested so badly that they will affect you on our tour.  Use your light and watch out for them and you should be fine.

When to Go

This depends on what is important to you weather, rainfall, price, and/or crowds.  Now it is in the RAIN forest so there is no guarantee that you won’t get any rain but generally the rainy season runs from June to November.  The peak tourist season is from the mid November until April, where you will have the highest pricing as well and the biggest groups of people heading out to the cave, and therefore less attention from the guide.  The early months of May and June when rainfall is just beginning, are a good time to do the tour as you can you can escape the tourist rush, the heavy rainfall and get a good price.

We went the first week of November and it poured on us, and we still ended up loving it, so either way it will be a blast!

Pricing and Logistics

The pricing of the tour ranges is approximately ~$95 USD which can go down and up slightly depending on the season and if you need to be shuttled in.  We went during the off season (first week of November) and used Maya Walk tour company.  We met them at their tour office in San Ignacio and paid $85 USD per person.  You meet for the tour at the office between 7am and 8am depending on the company and get back between 3pm and 4pm.  The tour takes approximately 8 hours and lunch (Typically: chicken, rice and beans, and salad or vegetarian option) is provided in the price of the tour.

These are the logistics for tours out of San Ignacio and would change slightly if you are starting out of another location or are being shuttled in that morning.

Logistics: What to Bring/Wear:

  • Sturdy water shoes or tennis shoes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Swimwear or clothes you don’t mind getting wet (seeing the theme here?)
  • socks (mandatory for preservation reasons)
  • extra set of dry clothing, extra sandals/flip flops
  • small backpack
  • liter of water
  • bug spray
  • snacks
  • NO CAMERA is allowed on the tour
  • Leave all valuables on the bus or don’t bring them at all

Our tour provided croc-like water shoes with full backs that we used because your feet will be fully submerged multiple times.  You can wear your tennis shoes, but if you plan to wear the shoes the next day you might consider either getting some sturdy water shoes or doing a tour that provides shoes.  You also have to bring socks with you to walk around the burial site in order to best preserve the living museum.   Finally, since you are going to be pretty much totally soaked by the end you also must bring and extra set of clothing and shoes to change into after the tour is over.

We met at the tour office, bright and early at 7:20 am.   Once there I learned that I am not going to eat until like 1 or 2pm, and my fear of getting hungry set in so we ran to a bakery and grabbed yummy cinnamon bread so that we can carb up before the big swim.  Literally.

The lesson here is to eat a big breakfast early, or bring a bunch of snacks to eat on the bus since you won’t have lunch until 1 or 2pm. Once you exit the bus you leave most of your belongings there and usually just bring your water (1 Liter or ~34 ounces) and some snacks that can get wet or that you can easily carry over your head due to the wading/swimming you will do during the tour.

After your ~45 minute hike/swim through the jungle you arrive at the site of the cave where you will be asked to leave ALL of your belongings behind for the ~3 hour venture into the cave.  The key is to not bring anything valuable to this point, which includes your CAMERA.  You can’t bring one on the tour so I suggest leaving it on the bus and just taking before and after photos at the park entrance.  The tour usually will provide some photos of the cave via email.

All you bring in the cave is yourself, with your super cool spelunking helmet and light.  You can’t even really bring in water (unless for medical reasons), which I had a slight freak out about because I drink a lot of water and 3 hours with no water???? AHHHHHH do I have to face all my neurotic fears today??  Yes, I am dramatic.  The guide brings a bottle just in case people need it and I ended up not even really needing or thinking about it while I was in the cave.  Fear conquered.

Just Do It

Overall yes, the ATM cave tour is considered adventure-fun and scary at times, but totally doable for most people!  It’s a great place to go a little out of your comfort zone, face some fears and have an amazingly unique experience in the process.

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