Candelaría cave is found in the middle of a Mayan village. The money from the tour goes to the entire community. These Mayan families moved there about 70 years ago to escape the draft from the civil war.
There are two Candelaría tours once you come into the area. The good tour is off the main road down a semi sketchy road, the other tour is very short and not worth it in our opinion.
To get to the village you have to cross a foot bridge, cars cannot cross only people. Under the bridge is the beautiful blue river that flows through the caves. The perfect place to avoid a war they didn’t want to be involved in. And now as free citizens a nice place to cool off, or for kids to play.
Throughout the day trucks come by with supplies and groups of people come to walk the supplies over the bridge. A true community, constantly working together.
Unfortunately they were evacuated last year during the rainy season. Entire homes were destroyed on the countryside in mudslides. They were able to return and the community came together again to rebuild.
We took Sombrita for a walk in the Mayan village when we got to our campsite. A huge football (soccer) game was starting as we walked by. Men from the village played as kids watched from the sidelines. Women were swimming with kids in the river. I love seeing recreation in all the places we go, people love to have fun in an active way everywhere.
We decided to do the dry cave tour which was an hour and a half and tubing through a cave which was 2 hours long. We loved both and would recommend taking this short detour before or after heading to Tikal.
We stayed one night in the van for 50Q or $6USD. They have a spot for vans in a nice green space but it was a little too muddy for us so we stayed in the dirt parking lot.
It was 300Q or around $38USD for both of us to do the tubing and cave tour. A very negotiable and friendly guy running the show.
A note is we didn’t see anywhere to buy food here. We were able to buy a soda from a tiendita in the village but that was for fun. I don’t think they sell much else. So remember to bring a few things when you head there.
On our hike to the caves we heard families of howler monkeys and toucans in the trees above us. This area is full of wildlife, a million times better than any zoo.
We caught a glimpse of a snake dragging a frog into the brush for dinner on our hike. It was so hard to see with the camouflage of the jungle but our guide found them for us.
Going through the cave tubing was so fun and unique. We’ve never heard of heading through river caves like this before.
On our way down the river we met some local kids swinging on the vines above the river and splashing into the water. They were having so much fun playing in the blue water.
Once we got into the cave I didn’t have a light but Danny kept me illuminated with his. We used a normal headlight as we thought we wouldn’t be dunking our heads into the water.
Danny dropped his light unfortunately but he was able to swim down a couple feet to get it. It worked after he got it but to make sure we put it in rice after and it still works!
The tubing caves were enormous rooms, and during the rainy season they become completely filled with water.
Our guide was so friendly, we really liked the information he provided us. We wouldn’t have been able to find our way so in this case a guide was necessary, at least it was for a good cause!
We also made a YouTube video about our cave tubing trip, check it out!
This place was suggested in the travel book, Don’t Go There, It’s Not Safe, You’ll Die