Visiting the Caves
A route through the Loltún caverns has been wired for lights, which are turned on and off by the guide as groups move through. Loltún means Stone Flower in Maya and you’ll see many carvings of small flowers.
One of the more intriguing sights are dozens of handprints on the cavern walls, either in silhouette or negative outline, whose meaning remains a mystery. Early Mayas also placed stone cisterns (chultunes) under the dripping stalactites to catch “virgin water,” important in ceremonies honoring Chac, the rain god.
But the most important archaeological find here is the relief dubbed “The Warrior,” which is carved on a rock face just outside the Nahkab entrance to Loltún. Strangely, it appears to follow the Izapan style of Kaminaljuyú, Guatemala, the enormous Preclassic city near Guatemala City.
Toward the end of the hour-long tour you come to an opening in the roof of an enormous two-story-high cavern. The sun pours into the room, creating dust-flecked shafts of golden light. The gnarled trunk of a towering tree grows from the floor of the cave, reaching hundreds of feet up through the sunny opening, and flocks of birds twitter and flit in and around the green leafy vines that dangle freely into the immense chamber from above.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition