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“Extraordinary overnight trip of a lifetime.”
Review of Pacz Tours

Pacz Tours
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Pacz Tours Belize leads daily tours Actun Tunichil Muknal, Cave Tubing and to all of the known Archaeologocal sites and quite a few unknown ones as well. Pacz Tours pride themselves on having the most experienced and knowledgeable tour guides in San Ignacio, Belize.
Durham, North Carolina
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Extraordinary overnight trip of a lifetime.”
Reviewed 27 November 2013

It's hard to write a review for what ended up being a life-changing experience.

I'd been to Actun Tunichil Muknal before with Francisco (aka Pancho), and it was such an extraordinary experience that I came back to Belize specifically for the cave, to see it again...and again...and again. The last time I went, I signed up for the special overnight tour. I was expecting to go into the cave at night, which would be magical all on its own; but the trip that PACZ planned far, far exceeded my expectations (so much so that I'm coming back AGAIN next spring to re-visit all the places I saw on the overnight tour).

First, it must be said that Francisco is the consummate guide. He is kind, patient, good-humored, and has years upon years of experience. After a shopping trip for camping goodies, and the walk to "Hotel Xibalba"--the clearing just uphill from the cave--we set out, not to enter the cave through its mouth as usual, but hiking far above a sinkhole and rappelling down into it. I've never rappelled before. I'm also afraid of heights. But Pancho has handled all types in his career--including shaky neophytes--and so actually, I felt perfectly safe.

The cave itself is a miraculous experience, so much so that I'm writing an entire novel about it, so that'll be some 90,000 words down the line. But what I want to focus on here is what made the overnight trip so special. All of our needs were seen to: tent, food, safety, libations, warmth from a fire. I slept much more soundly than I expected to. In the morning, after breakfast, Pancho led us on a hike through the jungle. The area around Actun Tunichil Muknal is full of Maya temples and other habitations, now overgrown; it was like being on another planet, or somehow outside of time. We went to Actun Nak Beh, a very different cave from ATM, in that it was dry, with narrow labyrinthine passages, like a giant natural playground. We crossed the river and went to Actun Uayazba Kab, which commanded a kingly view of the jungle below, and is pocked with caves that are filled with human markings, most especially handprints. All throughout, Pancho was patient, helpful, and eager to share his encyclopedic knowledge of everything around us, whether it be native birds, Maya custom, or archaeological research.

When we packed up and left, my head was spinning. I felt euphoric; it was so much to take in. If you have the means--or heck, even if you don't, because you're in Belize and you only live once--inquire with PACZ about their overnight tours, and ask for Pancho. I recommend him, and PACZ, with nothing but the highest regard.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
Thank MonicaByrne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Norwich, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Pretty awe-inspiring”
Reviewed 4 November 2013

Before I get on to the cave, a word about our guide, Juan Carlos.

What can I say? Philosopher. Poet. Raconteur. There is literally nothing the man does not know (that, or he's a very convincing liar).

Anyway, the ATM cave is quite breathtaking. Every time you think it can't get more spectacular, you step into another cavern with even more beautiful rock formations. It's not very hard going at all, my wife had never done caving before and managed to do all the swimming and scrambling without incident.

The only downside was that we got absolutely bitten to shreds by mosquitoes, since you're not allowed any type of bugspray, since it damages the calcified rock.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank Ben W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Calgary
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Great tours and guides!”
Reviewed 23 October 2013

My husband and our two friends and I booked through Pacz for both the ATM Cave trip and the day trip to Tikal. The guides were very professional and very informative. We felt like we were in very good hands and everything was extremely organized. The guides all seemed to really love what they do and their passion was obvious. Even at the office we were treated very well by Jamal and Bob and would highly recommend PACZ to anyone!

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
Thank Runty22
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
16 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Excellent ATM tour”
Reviewed 8 October 2013 via mobile

We did our ATM tour with Francesco and he was so knowledgeable and spent time explaining everything. He did little thinks that made the trip extra special. I would have him as a guide any day!!

I was disappointed about no pictures but that is not the tour or guides fault.

I would recommend PACZ put together an info packet...I didn't know the shoes to wear, to bring extra clothes or that cameras weren't allowed until the morning pick up.

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
Thank ldstewart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Calgary Alberta Canada
Level Contributor
25 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Pacz tours - ATM cave - incredible adventure”
Reviewed 2 September 2013

We did the ATM cavel tour with Pacz and they were very helpful, punctual and respectful.

Because it was slow season, we were the only two on the tour, so it was like a private tour for us. :) The ATM tour can only have a max of eight anyways.

The ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) tour. Juan Carlos was a great tour guide, he led us through the jungle hike (easy hike), with 3 river crossing that you can walk through. The highest crossing was just above the waist (and we aren't tall people). A quick swim into the cave and the adventure continues. (I'm not a great swimmer, so I asked for life jacket at the beginning of the tour, so if you aren't comfortable with swimming, be sure to get one, probably should mention at booking time as well.) For the next 3ish hours you will be spelunking.

There are some tight fits through rocks; couple of large rocks to climb up and over, areas to squeeze through, and water to wade through, but it was very fun. Vast majority of the cave was quite high, so it wasn't really too claustrophobic. We wore Keen waterproof sandals and they worked well for the hiking and the trekking through the cave. You need to bring socks with you, for the trek into the dry area to see the artifacts. Cameras are not allowed in anymore, since a couple of years ago someone accidentally dropped their camera on one of the skulls in the cave. This adventure into the cave was amazing, and something not to be missed!

We had the provided lunch after we came out of the cave, which was great!

Our tour guide was great, and I especially liked this comment he had at the beginning of the tour, "In many places to see Mayan artifacts, you would go to a museum and see them behind a rope or in a case, today we will see them up close where they were found. They are still in the same place they were discovered". Juan Carlos was very informative; on the ride out to jungle, he was pointing out the history of the area, flora and other interesting facts. Through the jungle he gave insight of the area as well. In the cave, he spent a lot of time giving us Maya history, culture and stories about the era and the cave. He answered all of our questions, and continually asked us if we have any other questions. Safety and respect for the site was forefront for him.

Would recommend Pacz tours and Juan Carlos!

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank YYC--Rob
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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