When you dig into the travel literature for the country of Belize, the top attraction that you are likely to read about is the Belize Barrier Reef, the second-largest barrier reef in the world, which has been attracting divers, snorkelers, and fishing enthusiasts for decades. The coastal islands of northern Belize give the greatest access to the reef anywhere in the country. The next biggest attraction, however, is a bit more mysterious and thrilling for curious explorer types.
The Mayan ruins of Belize are highly written about and popular inland tourist attraction. For anyone who is planning on spending some time in Belize, the ruins are a must-see. These monolithic structures are ancient temples, sacred to the Maya people. Much more than just old tombs, the ruins are exciting archaeological wonders that are still being discovered today.
To make your tour as special as possible, be sure to pay close attention to the guide’s talking points as he walks you among the rows of structures that exist at these sites, thoroughly describing each one in detail. For the best experience, it is ideal to have a group of around a half-dozen people. Many of the tour guides drive a full-sized van to the site each day from Belize City, and if your group is just 2-4 people, they may wish to include another group of the same size with your tour. Of course, there is nothing wrong with seeing the ruins this way, and if you do wind up with some new friends, it won’t necessarily bring down the quality of your tour. In fact, it’s a great way to meet like-minded travelers. You might even want to roll solo and be added to a group tour that way.
The guides that run tours to Mayan sites like Altun-Ha, Lamanai, Xunantunich, and Cahal Pech are highly experienced. These local professionals know the landscape, the precise details of the structures, and have an extensive amount of historical knowledge surrounding their construction, the society that inhabited the areas, and their traditions. In many cases, the people employed as tour guides of these marvelous ruins are the ancestors of the people who built them, which makes for an especially unique insight into the cultural significance of these sites.
If you manage to get a group that is feeling up for something extra, try asking your guide to see what else they can include in the tour. I certainly do not know all the little extras that are available, but even if it’s something as simple as a pointed interest in one of the sites, structures, or part of the ancient culture (such as rituals or daily life), there are lots of ways to get a mega bargain for the cost of these trips by simply asking your tour guide what is available.
It may take a stroke of luck to get the right weather on the right day, but some guides will agree to take your group on a different route through the jungle or to climb the ruins in a different location than usual. You never know what excitement awaits you in the ancient sites of the Mayan ruins in Belize. For more information on where you can stay in Belize, click here.
Top Places to Retire in Belize is a really interesting article from Joel Nagel. You can read it HERE