The limestone mountains in northern Alta Verapaz are full of caves, of which the most impressive and extensive are those at Candelaria, northeast of Chisec. Here the Río Candelaria has formed an astonishingly complex system of caverns and passages, occasionally penetrated by skylights from the surface. The Candelaria cave network extends for 22km (though if you include all the subsidiary systems it’s more like 80km) and includes some truly monumental chambers.

It’s quite straightforward to visit part of this cave network, but rather confusingly, there are four possible entrances. Two are community-run (Candelaria Camposanto and Mucbilhá) and two are privately owned (Cuevas de Candelaria and Cuevas de los Nacimientos); the two most impressive sections are the latter two options.

The most memorable way to explore the cave system is on one of the full-day river tours (US$17; minimum four people) run by Hotel Cancuén in Raxrujá, which visit Los Nacimientos, where you can take in the crystalline Cueva Blanca, and involve floating for several hours through bat-filled caverns on a tube.

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