It was a rough drive from Merida to the Loltum caves. The offline maps took us through teeny tiny villages, with narrow streets that haves no dearth of potholes. Worse, it took us to a dead-end! We had to backtrack twice and find our way. Sigh!
Somehow luckily we reached the Loltum caves just on time, for the 11am guided tour.
Lol-tum, literally meaning “stone flower” was created by water millions of years ago. Although the entrance and the exit to the caves looks like a cenote (or a sink hole), there is no water anymore. To this day, one can still see remarkable fossil evidence of sea animals that once inhabited these caves.
People before the Mayans lived inside these caves for protection from animals. A point to note is that the Mayans never lived inside the caves; they lived in temples.
Unlike a lot of caves that get chilly inside, the temperature inside the Yucatan caves is always hot and humid because of its proximity to the equator.
A notable feature inside the caves is the 100 meters long Cathedral, expanding to a height of 45 meters and a width of 20 meters. Back then, people used torches to navigate inside these pitch dark caves, evidence of black soots are still visible in certain parts of the caves.
A remarkable carving inside the caves is the Loltun’s Head, carved by the Mayans. The original carving is still preserved for visitors to see.
The Mayans used cave pillars as instruments because they are hollow inside and make sounds. Each of us took turns to bang on two pillars with our hands, simultaneously creating the sounds “lol” and “tum”.
As we walked further inside the caves, we came across one of the massive portions of the caves, nicknamed as the Grand Canyon. May not be as massive as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, nevertheless these caves were marvelous!
Towards the exit of the caves, we saw paintings of Black Hands or Manos Negras on the caves. These are created using an airbrush technique by people who lived inside these caves in 10,000 BC. An interesting thing is that, similar hand paintings are found inside the caves in Europe.
Apparently, Mayans consider black as negative and red as positive. Hence all their temples are in red color.
Then we came across two huge holes inside the caves, believed to be created by meteors. People used these holes to get inside and outside the caves.
The caves were so surreal and fascinating, loaded with so much historical significance. Loltum caves turned out to be one of our favorite places in the Yucatan peninsula.