I have to admit that I was afraid, very afraid. This was one of the most intense adventures in Belize that almost gave me chicken feet, but I was already hanging over the edge of a 300-foot cliff on the edge of a sinkhole. There was nowhere to go but down at Belize’s Black Hole drop!
I was gripping ever so tightly to a rope, my feet lodged on the rocky cliff and looking down into the abyss (non-visible ground below) only sent chills down my spine and made my stomach queasy. The Black Hole Drop adventure tour, provided by Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch Adventure Company and Jungle Lodge, was pretty high on my bucket list, so there was no turning back. I love the adrenaline rush, adventure and this was right up my alley; the only thing is that this time I got the jitters.
So as not to frighten you too much (don’t want to discourage anybody from taking this tour), the Sink Hole (or Cenote) is not actually black. The reason it is called the Black Hole is because you cannot see the bottom from where your rappelling starts.
The tour involves a vigorous hike up into the foothills of the Maya Mountains to the mouth of the cave. Yes, the journey involves a 90-minute hike up as your final destination lies 600 feet above sea level. It’s not for the faint at heart; it takes some muscle to get there. You are only carrying a back pack with your helmet, gloves and two bottles of water which you definitely need to hydrate yourself along the way. The guides are gracious enough to make some stops along the way for those who need to catch their breath and stretch their legs.
The edge of the Actun Loch Tunich sink hole (the “Mother of all Caves” as they call it) sits over 300 feet above the basin below. As you get there, the excitement starts building up as the guides start taking out the harness and strap gear. Stepping up to the ledge is when your adrenaline skyrockets to five times its normal count. This is because you get to see the large mouth of the sink hole and the deep basin below.
The hardest part is taking those first steps down and backwards mind you! It just takes a few minutes to get adjusted to the harness, the way you have to position your body and how you manage the mechanism that guides you down. You are in control of your descent and it is all up to you to get down to the bottom of the sink hole.
The adrenaline rush takes over and when you manage to clear yourself from the rocky ledge it is a smooth ride (rappel) down. During the first 200 of the drop you are above the rainforest canopy so you can take your time and look around at the amazing natural structure that is the mouth of the sink hole. I got to see some hatchlings that were chirping away for their mother in a nest that was nicely tucked into one of the crevices of the rock.
After you enter the canopy and into the shade of the tall pine trees, you can increase your speed and ‘zoom’ your way down to the ground; this is another 100 feet from the treetops. That’s it! I just mastered a great feat and checked one box of my bucket list. One of the best thrills of my life.
Once you’re at the bottom you rest with a delicious picnic lunch that is prepared by the crew. You also have time to look up at the ledge in which you rappelled from and explore the rock formations of the cave. It’s pretty cool!
While you are eating and gazing around inside the sink hole one question comes to mind – “How do I get out of here?” The answer is quite simple – climb of course! There is no easy way, but it is all part of the adventure and what makes this tour really cool. So the hike back includes some rock climbing, ladder climbing and a lot of sweating. In the end you are back out where you first entered the jungle and it’s just a short ride back to the lodge for a dip in the pool with a well deserved cold drink.
(5 of 5 sweat drops)
Extreme – This adventure is not for the faint of heart and all participants must be relatively fit. Starts with a 1.5 hour vigorous, steep uphill hike to the upper edge of the sinkhole…and that is just the beginning.
Mature 10 yrs old and up
Comfortable light weight long pants and shirt that allow for movement and can get wet. Well treaded sneakers/hiking boots and mosquito repellent. Water, lunch and equipment provided.
This Adventure is available all year, but during the rainy season, be prepared to get muddy.
Click Link to watch video: http://youtu.be/za090WnAVO0