Boasting a stunning coastline, natural beauty and part of the vast jungle of Central America, Belize is also a hotspot to enjoy exploring Mayan history and incredible archaeological ruins. With only a small amount of the Mayan temples uncovered, it is not uncommon that during your vacation you get told about or shown a new site being explored.
Excite the Indiana Jones within, as you explore Mayan Belize; it is worth mentioning that you should probably leave your Indiana Jones inspired whip at home as this could take some explaining whilst passing through airport security!
With this in mind and whip-free, put on your brown Fedora hat and prepare to indulge yourself in the mysterious world of Mayan history and culture.
The fascinating Xunantunich ruins
The best places to visit often require the most amount of effort to reach but this only adds to the sense of exploration, discovery and achievement once you arrive. Taking a small boat along the Mopan River in the Cayo District of Belize, you will arrive at the impressive Mayan site of Xunantunich. Built atop a hill and overlooking the stunning landscapes that surround the site, the area was used as a key Mayan ceremonial site. Composed of six major plazas and featuring more than 25 Maya temples and palaces, Xunantunich is definitely worth the effort to visit.
The main attraction of Xunantunich is ‘El Castillo’ (the Castle) which is the largest pyramid on the site and the second tallest in Belize after the temple at Caracol.
Standing at 130 feet tall, the imposing El Castillo is adorned with incredibly detailed and beautiful frieze carvings on the east and west sides. This archaeological Mayan site also has the added extra that on a clear day you can see across into neighboring Guatemala and nearby Caracol, a site which deserves to be explored in its own right.
San Ignacio: A place to hang up your ‘Indy’ boots
After an incredible day and experience visiting Xunantunich, you can head to the nearby town of San Ignacio. Located near to the main Mayan temples including, Caracol, it is a great place to relax and get ready for another day exploring the Mayan world.
Thriving with archaeologists, novice explorers and adventurous travelers, San Ignacio has a unique blend and atmosphere of the American Old West and tropical backwater.
As English is the official language of Belize, it’s easy to strike up interesting conversations with modern day Indiana Jones explorers, finding out about their latest discoveries and journeys across the world. San Ignacio is the friendly, functional base for all your activities and explorations within the Cayo District containing a positive local vibe with a bustling market and bringing together the very best of inland Belize.
Although Belize is the youngest country in Central America, it has an interesting and magnificent history and culture that should be explored. Visiting the archaeological sites of Mayan Belize that were once the center of this great civilization adds to your understanding of this geologically and culturally rich nation. Aside from the picture-perfect tropical beaches, diverse adventure activities and vibrant nature; Belize and the Cayo District are a treasure trove of Mayan tradition, culture and history that are waiting to be discovered.