Rio Frio Cave
The massive mouth of the Rio Frio cave is its signature. Belize potentially has the largest cave system in Central America, with the dome of Rio Frio the largest in the country. Belize has an abundance of limestone rock, hence an abundance of caves. Caves are formed when the relatively soft limestone rock is eroded by water over millennia.
Rio Frio Cave is located in the Mountain Pine Ridge area, in Augustine, about five miles past the Douglas de Silva Forest Station. Upon arrival at Rio Frio Cave, visitors can park not too far from the entrance, and a short walk reveals the massive 65-foot arched entrance.
Large boulders, some covered with moss, allow for climbing high up along the side near the wall of the cave, and stepping-stone stairs have also been set to make the hike easier. When inside the cave, the other large entrance (or exit) can also be seen, as the entire cave is less than half-mile long. A river runs through the cave, and in the dry season, it is possible to hike through to the other side. This less traveled path reveals another trail outside the cave, and some smaller caves are accessible from here. Flashlights are always a good idea, but are not necessary, as the cave has natural light filtering through most of the day, since both entrances are not far from each other.
The large boulders and rock formations inside Rio Frio are strange and unusually colored. The walls are smoothed by water erosion of thousands of years. Stalactites also hang from the ceiling. Vines and ferns grow at the entrance of the cave, giving it life. There is also a bat population, which can be easily detected by your sense of smell if you get too close to their favorite spots. An unusually sandy area exists down near the river, and it is worth the short walk down the rocks to this “beach”.
A visit to the enormous Rio Frio Cave is highly recommended, when in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. This is probably one of Belize’s least strenuous cave tours, so if you have a specific interest in caves, and enjoy adventure, consider this your first of many, all with varying degrees of difficulty.