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. Here is a look at what the Grutas Loltun look like.
Loltun Caves or Grutas Loltun
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.
Our video if visiting Loltun
Prices for parking, entrance and tours of the Lol-Tun caves
Parking price for Loltun
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. The cost is 50 pesos for parking.
Entrance cost for Loltun
At the entrance there is the official price to get in (140 pesos). You will pay this in two parts in two windows. One fee is for the state one for the federal government. Try to have small bills and change. This is a remote area and it might be hard to break 500 notes.
Since it is considered an archeological site it is run by the Mexican Government (INAH). 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. The guides are free but tips are encouraged.
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, 11:00, 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.
Tours to Grutas Loltun
If you don’t want to drive here yourself and figure out all the details, here are several tour options for you. Both of these tours leave from Merida. Some tours to Loltun require a minimum amount of people. The details are in the links below.
Puuc Route and Loltun Caves Day Trip from Merida
Yucatan’s Hidden Treasures: Mayapan Loltun Caves and Antique Monastery in Mani
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.
If you have mobility issues, you might not be able to do the full tour. Not all parts are flat and you do need to climb steps and walk on uneven surfaces.
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 Loltun 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.
Directions to Lol-Tun
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.
Other things to see and do in this area
- Uxmal Mayan ruins. This is a must if you are in the area. It is one of our favorite ruins to see!
- Chocolate Museum. This is just in front of the entrance to Uxmal. Discover how
- Almost every small town in this area is centered around a colonial church. See the colonial past of this part of Mexico.
- You might also what to read our article on Via Neshima Guesthouse in this area. It can be a good base for exploring the area.
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?
We took a family trip while exploring the southern Yucatan. I was impressed how big it was. We had a good tour and we tipped 100 pesos for the family and that seemed to be good. There were four others in the tour so I think the guide did well. At first when we were going in they started with their speech and I was about to turn around but it all ended well.
The Lol Tun Caves are a must if you go to the ruta puuc. So cool and big.
We were driving around the Ruta Puuc and discovered these caves, well worth the stop. There are very large and provide locals with some income for the tour guides. Lo Tun is a good destination to aim for if you are in the southern Yucatan Peninsula.
My friend and I just did Lul Tun caves today (March 28th 2019). The official price is now 140 each (plus 50 pesos for parking!!!!) and as noted above, the cost of the guide is not included. The caves are incredible and if you could spend as much time as you want in them they would absolutely be worth 140 pesos. However…
Our “tour”, if you could call it that, lasted all of 45 minutes. Our guide was called Bernardo (I think?) and he really was terrible. He did not bother to ask any of our names and was only interested in making money; the first thing he said to us was that the price of the guide was not included and of course how much we tip is up to us but guides in Chichen Itza make 800 pesos. Considering we were a group of 4 that would mean each of us would have had to tip 200 pesos! That is more than the (already exorbitant!!!) entry fee!
Bernardo said very little and much of what he did say was either incorrect or at least of questionable veracity, but the worst part was that he rushed us through the entire cave, barely allowing us to stop to take photos and skipping many interesting paths (which had lights going to them so they were definitely parts that other people go to!). 30 minutes in he made a big deal about having time to show us a “special part”, which was literally a 1 minute walk from where we were (basically at the exit already!!) and then after showing us one carving he tried to rush us off to the exit (this would have been 35 minutes in to the tour by that time). When we did not immediately obey him he just waited impatiently and kept calling us to hurry along while we were discovering many other carvings, beautiful formations and even artifacts which he told us nothing about.
The other two in the group were an elderly couple and his pace was way too fast (for all of us, honestly!). He did not shine his torch on the ground for any of us, only kept saying many times to be careful and watch our step (but then also encouraging us to move along!) Luckily I had a head torch so I ended up illuminating the ground for our whole group much of the time. I honestly felt like I cared more about the group’s safety than he did.
Perhaps the Spanish tours are better; there was a Spanish group that went in at the same time as us and still was not out more than 20 minutes after our tour was over. For us, we felt like having to take a guide decreased the value of our trip, since it meant that we learned nothing and also had less time in the caves.
Thank you for the price updates. We have this in our article now. We have been several times and had a guide like this. They say a suggested price which is just that, and they can come across as a little greedy. It is bad because it can diminish the experience.