When in Belize exploring the ancient Maya is a must. Belize was once the heartland of the Maya. For nearly 3000 years the Maya civilization flourished in Belize with research suggesting over two million Maya once inhabited Belize. Today, excavated sites, temples, and tombs remind us of their historical past. Belize is estimated to have over a thousand ancient Maya sites in Belize, which date back to 2500 BC and flourished until about 1200 AD. With plenty of Maya sites around, one is guaranteed to not be too far from reach.
Known as Maiden of the Rock, Xunantunich is one of the most popular sites in the Cayo district. To get there you travel across the Mopan River on a hand- cranked ferry. This magnificent site has 25 temples to explore. The most impressive being El Castillo Temple decorated with intricate hand-carved stelae. It rises 130 feet giving you a 360 degree view of the plaza and lush jungle.
Caracol known as Snail in Spanish is the tallest Maya Ruin in Belize. Located in the Cayo district in Belize’s Chiquibul National Forest Reserve, it covers roughly 75 square miles. Occupied in 1200 BC it was a bustling Maya city home to the tallest man made structure in Belize the CAANA. CAANA, meaning sky palace rises 143 feet high, and is made up of four palaces and three temples.
Altun Ha, known as Rockstone Pond in Mayan, is one of the most popular archeological sites visited being approximately 31 miles north of Belize City. It is believed Atlun Ha was once the hub for trade of special stones, specifically jade. The most famous discovery at this ancient ruin was the Jade Head of K’nich Ahau, the sun god. This beautiful carved stone weighs almost 10 pounds and can be viewed at the Museum of Belize.
Known as Submerged Crocodile, Lamanai is hidden in Belize’s lush jungle near Belize’s New River. Best accessible by boat, you can take a 26 mile boat ride up the New River and spot wildlife before reaching this magnificent site. Comprised of over 700 Maya structures, this site is one of the more impressive in Belize
Known as the place of ticks, Cahal Pech is one of the oldest archeological sites in the Belize River Valley area. Roughly a mile south of San Ignacio, this ancient city has over 34 structures dating back to 1500 and 1000 BC. It was believed 10,000 to 200,000 people resided here. Different ornaments, pottery and jade have been found at this site.
Take a trip to one of the many Maya sites that have been uncovered. Climb to the top of these sacred sites and enjoy a 360 view of Belize’s jungle that surround these lost cities. To get the full experience and the scope of the Maya’s dominance, we can help book a guided tour for you. Getting the full run down of all the archeological facts makes a big difference.