Rappelling down the Black Hole Drop

Marta's Adventures in Belize - Part 6

If you are looking for a high intensity adrenaline-filled experience in the Belizean rainforest then this is the mother of them all! The Black Hole Drop, or like the locals called it, “The mother of all Caves”… Actun Loch Tunich.

This adventure begins early in the morning when a van picks you up from Sleeping Giant Lodge and takes you to the Belize Tree Houses at Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch. From there an amazing vintage school bus, which looks like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, takes you to the rainforest. During this short trip through mountains and orange orchards, you begin to feel as if you’re taking a step towards becoming a true explorer. Once you reach the edge of the rainforest the guides inform everyone in the group about all the details of the tour and give you all the gear that you will need to rappel the Black Hole. But first of all you have to enjoy a challenging hike from the foothills of the Maya Mountains to the mouth of the cave.

Me starting the adventure at the old-vintage truck
Me starting the adventure at the old-vintage truck

This hike takes approximately an hour and shows you the heart of the rainforest, through a narrow path between the hills, ancient trees and creek. If you are lucky enough, you can see some of the shy wildlife that lives in this area like gibnuts (also known as Pacas or Royal Rats), armadillos, tapirs, snakes, lizards, iguanas. The most interesting thing for me while hiking through the rainforest was to listen to the amazing stories and memories that one of the guides was telling us while he was cutting and breaking all the branches that was on our way with his huge machete.

Finally we arrived at the edge of the Actun Loch Tunich sink hole. This sits over 300 feet above the basin and 200 feet above the rainforest canopy that grows out from the sink hole basin. From there, the fully trained caving and rappelling guides rig a complete system of rappelling ropes for us to descend to the basin below. Then carefully rigging and preparing us one by one to rappel into this amazing cave.

Waiting our turn to rappel down the black hole
Waiting our turn to rappel down the black hole

I really don’t know if it is better to go first or last, but that moment, waiting for your turn to descend is just as exciting! My heart was beating and pounding like never before. I had the typical crazy laugh that you have when your adrenaline is on the highest level possible.

Soon it was my turn and one of our guides told me: “Marta, are you ready?” I held my breath and I went down to the edge of the sinkhole. Until that moment, I didn’t realize how massive it was! It looks like a volcano crater in the middle of the rainforest but it was fully covered with vegetation. There’s a little piece of jungle inside that big hole.

Duarte at the edge of the hole. Ready to start!
Duarte at the edge of the hole. Ready to start!

The first 10 feet are the most challenging, you are literally walking on the vertical wall of the cave. The next 200 feet provides you a thrill like no other, looking up and down, enjoying the stunning and unique views of this cave while going down the rope. The last 100 feet provides you an unforgettable experience as you descend through the rainforest canopy through the bottom of the sinkhole.

My views while going through the ropes.
My views while going through the ropes.
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One of the caves that are into the Black Hole

Once at the bottom, my legs were shaking but my smile showed how happy I was to complete one of the most exciting experiences in my entire life!

After some minutes of resting we enjoyed a delicious picnic lunch at the bottom of the cave surrounded by lush green vegetation. Suddenly we realized that it was raining a lot. It was one of the common mini downpours that frequently occur in the rainforest but thanks to the high trees and vegetation, no raindrops were falling on us. It was a gigantic umbrella that protected us from the rain. The sound of the rain falling down on the treetop in the jungle into that big hole was simply incredible.

The hike back includes some rock and ladder climbing, but after rappelling the Black Hole, that will seem less of a hassle and you can do it with ease!

One of the bravest team ever, after completed the Black Hole Rappelling
One of the bravest team ever, after completed the Black Hole Rappelling

When we arrive back at Sleeping Giant Lodge, we had a delicious dinner while sharing our experience with the other guests and with the always friendly hotel staff. I felt like I was at home!

After such amazing and exciting day in the Belizean rainforest, I have to say that I slept sound like a baby!

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