The Candelaria caves is the name of a large natural cave system in the municipalities of Chisec and Raxruha in Guatemala, located within the Candelaria Caves National Park.
The cave system, discovered in 1974 by Frenchman Daniel Dreux, is composed of seven separate caves interconnected by the Río Candelaria and spanning about 22 kilometers. The caves are 20–30 meters wide in places with ceilings typically 10–60 meters high. The national park offers a breathtaking visit to two dry caves and an exciting water route, floating on tubes in an underground section of the Rio Candelaria.
You can visit two extraordinary caves called "Window Security" and "Dome of Bats." These caves are easily accessible and shall be able to appreciate peculiar formations, routes of ancient rivers and evidence that were used by the ancient Maya to practice their religious ceremonies. If you are more adventurous, you can embark on a wonderful and exciting water route, floating on tubes, through an underground section of the Rio Candelaria. As you continue down the banks of the river, you will see the vastness of the caves and spectacular views created by the entry of the sun's rays through various natural windows.
Location - How to get there? The Candelaria National Park is located between the towns of Chisec and Raxruhá, in the department of Alta Verapaz. It is on kilometer 309 / 193mi traveling from central Guatemala (Guatemala City or Antigua Guatemala) about a 6 hour drive, OR 96km / 60 mi from the city of Coban (about a 2 hour drive). At the edge of the road is the Visitor Center where you can park your car and pay the entrance fee. From there, access to caves requires 15-30 minute walk through the trails that demand a low to medium level of effort. See Google location map below for directions to Chisec!
Know before you GO: This is a great add-on experience when visiting the region of Las Verapaces, especially if you are staying in the area for a few days. The visit takes about 2-3 hours but you should plan for a full day trip if traveling from Coban. General admission to the park is $10 / Q75 for foreigners, and Q60 for nationals. Admission includes a guided tour of the park and tubing (with basic equipment). Park visiting hours are from 7AM to 4PM and is open daily. Activities in the park are managed by the local "Maya Q'eqchi' Association for Community Development" and services include guided interpretive tours in caves, Tubing route inside caves, rental of equipment (tubes, life jackets and flashlights), store and community pharmacy, bathroom with shower, food service, and parking. Take light and comfortable clothes, Comfortable walking shoes, water shoes for water route, swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, cap, sunglasses, and your camera! Note that facilities in the park are basic.
Contact us: If you have any questions about this experience or have special requests (transportation to the site, guided tours, accommodations in the region, etc) please contact Gofolklore. We will be delighted to assist you!
Did you Know? Caves were sacred to the Mayans and it is thought that nearby cities such as Cancuén lacked the substantial temple pyramids found elsewhere in the Mayan world because of the proximity of the Candelaria caves, which were used as a center for worship.