The Grutas de Lanquin, or Lanquin Caves, are limestone caves near the city of Cobán that were once considered sacred to the Mayan people, believed to be the "heart of heaven." The Mayans believed the "secret of the ages" was hidden deep inside the caves. Today, they are a popular tourist destination, although some locals still utilize the caves in the manner of their ancestors. Travelers, on the other hand, come to explore the caves’ beauty, learn about their historyand come face to face with some of their most notable residents: the thousands of bats that leave the caves nightly.
Take the time to wander the various chambers and limestone formations. Rooms of importance include the Altar of the Pillory, where Mayans performed rites and burned incense, and the Bridge of the Fall of the King, a name given after King Leopold of Belgium visited the caves and a wooden bridge collapsed under his weight. When the bridge was rebuilt, it was named after the incident.
Visitors to Lanquin Caves can also float down the Lanquin River during the day, giving them a chance to explore the interesting rock formations and minerals lining the cave walls.
Most people visit the Lanquin Caves from the city of Cobán in Honduras—about a 1.5-hour drive. Many visitors go at dusk to watch the bats, so expect an influx of people after 4:30pm. The lighted trail inside the cave takes about 45 minutes round-trip and is about a quarter-mile (400 meters) long. If you plan to take photos inside the cave, note that the flash can affect the bats’ ability to see.