The Lol-Tun caves are the largest and most interesting to see in the Yucatan Peninsula. They are tucked away in the south western corner but fortunately there is a lot to see in the area. These caves cannot be covered in a day trip but an overnight trip at least will get you to this area and back. It is a very Mayan area and you will be rewarded for your adventurous spirit to go to this area.
The Lol-Tun caves got their name from the Mayan words (lol) “Flower” and (tun) “stone”. Our guide also showed us a stalagmite and stalactite formation in which he took a stick and hit them. They sounded like a tuning instrument making a “lol” and “tun” sound. This is said to be how the caves got their name.
The caves have a fascinating history. Historians believe these caves were used for thousands of years by the Maya. Mayans have always considered caves to be sacred places and the entrance to the underworld. In modern history the caves were explored in 1888. From 1977 -1981 the National Institute of Anthropology and History conducted archaeological research in Lol-tun Caves. They recorded and cataloged petroglyphs and wall paintings, ceramics, stone, bone material remains. Today there are some 145 paintings and 42 petroglyphs cataloged in these caves to date.
Prices for parking, entrance and tours of the Lol-Tun caves
When you get to the area there is a parking lot that is paid. You would think there would be free parking in such a remote area but no. At the entrance there is the official price to get in (108 pesos). Since it is considered an archeological site it is run by the Mexican Government. Guides are required to take you around. At first you might think that this is an unnecessary thing but the caves are huge and ongoing.
Guides do mention the tipping system, like may archeological sites. They mention that most places people tip 500 pesos (or pay that for a guide). This is a really exorbitant price for a tour guide. This would only be for a large group. However the guides do make their living though these tours so a tip at the end does pay them. It should be based on how many in your group and how you enjoyed the tour.
Tours of Lol-Tun
Tours of these caves are suppose to be 9: 30, 12: 30 and 15: 30 hours but do to the fact it is so remote, they conduct tours when there are people. They do try to space them out so you are no bumping into other tours as well as disturbing the bats that live in the caves. There are English and Spanish guides but there is a limited amount of English speaking tourist that make it to this area so you might find yourself either waiting for an English tour or going on a Spanish tour. If you end up on a Spanish tour you can have fun trying to tell what they are describing while looking at the amazing scenery. Tours can be as short as 45 minutes and up to two hours in length depending on the guide and pace of the people in the group. You do cover a lot of ground and have interesting formations pointed out to you along with stories about the caves.
You might at first think that the caves are just a stroll inside and then out another exit but these are really extensive caves. With such names as “Cathedral” and “Grand Canyon” for different parts of the caves, you get an idea how big the caves really are. Once you enter the first few areas we are sure you will be clicking away with your camera at the grandeur of the place. The guides turn on lights as you progress through the caves. At one point they will offer to turn off all the lights so you can experience total darkness. If you are scared of the dark they will keep them on for you.
What to wear to the Lol-Tun caves
The caves are a pleasant temperature but they are moist. So having good shoes is key. Flip flops or dressy shoes are not recommended because you can easily slip on sloped smooth rocks. Tennis shoes would be best.
Eating options near the Lol-Tun Caves
You are really in a remote area of the Yucatan. Make sure you carry some water with you and snacks because stores and restaurants are few. There is one restaurant that is across from the entrance to the caves. It is a small and basic restaurant. It is good in this area to know where you are going and what areas you want to see so you can have some plan on where you might eat.
If you were to drive directly from Playa Del Carmen it would take about 4 1/2 hours. If you followed the route on the map you would pass through a lot of remote farm land and get a feel for the simple life of the Yucatan. The good thing is when you arrive in this area there are numerous attractions to keep you busy for a couple of days.
Have you been to the Lol-Tun Caves? Do you have some tips you would like to share with other readers? What else did you see in the area?