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Che Chem Ha Cave

By Slickrock Adventures on September 12, 2011
Che Chem Ha cave

William Morales (left) at the cave entrance

The Che Chem Ha cave in Belize is a Mayan ceremonial cave located in the Maya Mountains of central Belize.

This Belize cave contains hundreds of pottery vessels left by the Mayans as part of their religious ceremonies. The Mayans held great respect for their gods of the underworld, which is where they believe man was created. As such, they held many rituals and ceremonies in the caves they discovered throughout the region.

The Mayans often explored these caves to great depths, using only torches for light, and archeologists have discovered the remains of their offerings up to a mile into some caves. Pottery, carvings, incenses, and even the remains of sacrificial victims have been discovered in the many caves they used in Belize.

The Che Chem Ha cave was only discovered about 15 years ago by a local farmer, William Morales, as he was hunting in the jungle near his family farm. His dog disappeared into a small hole in the side of a hill, as they often do while searching for game, but didn’t reappear for a long time. Upon closer inspection of the hole, William found that it was the entrance to a cave which had been blocked by piles of rocks left by the Mayans.

Che Chem Ha cave

Inside Che Chem Ha

As William opened up the entrance and crawled in, he soon found hundreds of pottery vessels and other artifacts untouched since the Mayans left them over a thousand years ago. William contacted the country’s archaeology department, and together they explored the entire cave, which contained a treasure of hundreds of artifacts, untouched and never looted. The cave terminates in a large chamber which was used by the Mayans for ceremonies, a ring of rocks and incense is still found in this chamber.

The Morales family is to be applauded, for they could have sold the pots on the black market for more than they will ever make in their lifetimes. Instead, today the cave is open to groups for tours, with William as the guide. He has had the opportunity to work with visiting archaeologists to the cave and has become an expert on the Mayan culture and history. Every time he tells the story of finding the cave, he gets excited, as if it just happened last week.

Che Chem Ha is now one of Belize’s premier Mayan cave tours, and is well worth seeing. We offer this tour as part of our Belize Adventure Week trip. You can also call the Morales family directly in Belize: 011.501.661.4714.