Planning our trip to Belize, we thought “Let’s go big or go home.” And we did. . .go BIG that is. When we heard about this anomaly in the middle of the Belize jungle called the Black Hole Drop, we figured we needed to check it out. The Black Hole itself is a collapsed cave system with massive caverns on either end near the same-name national park. You hike up to the hole and then repel 300 feet down through the canopy to the cave floor below.
My husband, Matt, has done quite a bit of jumping out of planes and repelling down cliffs so the thought of doing it in the Belize jungle sounded exciting to him. To me, it was a bit terrifying – in a good way. One thing that has me addicted to traveling is the thrill of constantly being outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself. Over the past few years, I’ve been challenged to grow and learn so much about myself in such a short time while traveling. Side note: If you want to know a relationship (be it romantic or platonic) is long-term, try traveling with that person. It is typically a great test of your ability to adapt and work together outside your comfort zones. All that to be said, we enjoy traveling and conquering my fears, so the Black Hole Drop naturally seemed just the thing to do!
We began the day expecting a rigorous hike to the top of the hole. Coming from the mountainous region of the Northwestern United States, we were prepared for the hike, but maybe not the heat and humidity. It was about an hour hike in and only a couple miles, but we were all drenched in sweat after the first ten minutes - our guides included. Hiking in Belize in May is a great way to purify your body, sweating out any toxins you may have stored up over the winter months. We were thankful for our backpack, which housed our climbing harness, helmet, and three glorious liters of water.
Along the way, our guide pointed out the flora and fauna surrounding us and kept us at a slow and steady pace with frequent breaks to rehydrate. There were two other guides for just the four of us travelers, so needless to say, we were well taken care of the entire time. I practiced a bit of my Spanish on the guide they referred to as “Viejo” out of respect. I commented on how my husband with his scarf around his forehead to sop up the sweat “Me parece como Rambo, no?” I think he gets a kick out of the crazy gringos he guides every week. Matt had that crazy look in his eye too that reflected the excitement and anticipation we were both feeling about the drop.
At the top, we peered over the edge into the hole and contemplated our other options for getting down while our guide and his crew double, triple, and quadruple checked the climbing ropes and safeties. Nope, no other options! Our main guide then gave us a run down of how everything worked and made sure we knew that at any moment during the decent we could yell “Stop!” in order to capture photos or video, or simply take in the moment.
Then it was time! I found myself volunteered to go first but in the end I was glad to not give myself a chance to get nervous. I started at the top and our guide coached me upright before we reached the edge of how to let the line feed through. Right foot, Left foot, Line. Step, Step, Line. We stepped to the edge and I began repelling down along the first ten feet of rock face. Step, Step, Line. Easy! Once you get over the immense adrenaline rush to your head! I came to the end of the rock face and stepped off into nothing. I was now suspended in midair and able to look down at the forest canopy below. What an amazing view! I looked across to the cave on the other side and yelled “Stop!” Time for a little photo op. I tried to capture it all but realized in the moment that the pictures would not do it justice. So I sat back and enjoyed the ride to the bottom as our guide above whooped and hooted to make his voice echo through the cave.
The last fifty feet you descend in to the forest canopy and the cool air hits you in a refreshing wave. You’re sad to see the moment come to an end but glad to be back in the coolness of the forest.
Our other guide, Junior, met me at the bottom and unhooked the harness. Once all the others had descended we ate lunch on a white linen cloth they spread over one of the giant rocks near the cave. Then the exploration began of the Actun Loch Tunich. Our guide took us to the mouth of the cave and down in below. We saw the plateaus were he explained the Maya had sacrificed to the rain god “Cha”. They believed the caves were portals to another world and the farther in you could take your sacrifice, the more pleasing it was to the god. It was all so fascinating and otherworldly that we just stood and soaked it in for a moment. We wandered around a bit, taking pictures and asking Junior more questions, and then began the ascent to the top of the hole. We boldered our way up and then in the last 30 feet we all scrambled up a rickety ladder to the top.
On the bus ride home, I looked through my photos and videos, feeling the rush of the Black Hole Drop again. What a unique experience it was and it really rounded out our time in Belize. Wildlife, Ruins, Culture, Excitement, Adventure! Check!