Tiger Cave

Tich Hulz - San Miguel Cave - Jaguar Cave

Useful Information

Location: Near San Miguel.
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave SpeleologyRiver cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=5,100 m, A=36 m asl., VR=74 m.
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Anonymous (2008): Belize 2008, Report of the Caving Expedition to the Toledo District of Belize, Central America. February-March 2008. South Wales Caving Club.
Address: Tiger Cave.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1979 discovered by members of the US Peace Corps.
1985-1986 explored and surveyed by the NSS Rio Grande Project.
2006 hydro plant at Kangaroo Cave constructed by Hydro Maya.
2008 new passages explored by SWCC.
2010 second entrance Green Pit discovered by the SWCC.
2001 survey by the South Wales Caving Club (SWCC).


Tiger Cave is a well known cave, named after a jaguar cub, which was chased into this cave by a local dog. At least thats the local lore. We are just surprised why it wasn't called jaguar cave or dog cave, however, the name jaguar cave is sometimes used. The cave is also called San Miguel Cave, after the Mayan village of San Miguel, which is only 1.5 h hours walk away.

The cave has a huge entrance portal, narrow but high corridors and huge chambers. There is no need crawl, but the tour is physically challenging. Some chambers have daylights, which allow rays of sunlight to enter the otherwise dark cave and illuminate chambers with 150 m high ceiling and a wealth of stalactites and stlagmites. The cave was used by humans long ago, broken pottery shards are scattered on the floor

Most of the cave is dry, but lower levels of the cave contain the cave cave river called Roaring River, which is actually the subterranean Rio Grande. The water is most likely originating from the Central River, which sinks at Esperanza. It reappears at Champon Cave.

The best way to visit the cave is to go to San Miguel and ask for a guide. Then there are two ways to reach the cave, either by a 1.5 hour nature walk, or with a car. Several years ago a road has been built for the construction of a hydroelectric plant, which leads almost to the cave entrance. However, it seems the locals think all tourists want to walk and you have to ask for this option. The walk is actually rater interesting and a fine opportunity to learn about the diversity of the Toledo rainforest. Part of the trail runs through farmland though and the guide will explain the Maya farming practices.

The cave was systematically explored and surveyed by the NSS Rio Grande Project in 1985/86. But at this time the exploration ended at the Roaring River, an underground river which filled the lower passages. The construction of a hydro electric plant by Hydro Maya in 2006 altered the water courses dramatically and so formerly water filled passages fell dry. In 2008 the SWCC entered those parts and surveyed 500 m of additional passages and discovered a new entrance called Green Pit.