Lamanai Mayan ruins.

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Northern Belize

Perhaps the most fascinating Maya site in Northern Belize, Lamanai lies 24 miles south of Orange Walk Town up the New River (or 36 miles by unpaved road). The ruins are known both for their impressive architecture and marvelous setting, surrounded by dense jungle overlooking the New River Lagoon. Climbing to the top of the 125ft High Temple to gaze out across the vast jungle canopy is an awe-inspiring experience that is not to be missed.

Most visitors approach Lamanai by guided river trip from Orange Walk not just to avoid the long and bumpy road, but to take advantage of the river trip itself, which goes deep into the home of the countless colorful and unusual birds that live in the area. Many guides who do the 1½-hour river trip are experts in both archaeology and the area’s wildlife, making it an especially worthwhile experience. The river voyage passes through some of the most beautiful jungle and lagoon country in Northern Belize, and the Mennonite community of Shipyard, before reaching Lamanai itself. There are a number of excellent tour guides in Orange Walk who specialize in the journey.

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1. Lamanai Museum

0.06 MILES

In the main administrative building where you pay your entrance fee, this small museum features artifacts unearthed throughout the Lamanai complex,…

2. Spanish Churches

0.13 MILES

Some 400yd south of Jaguar Temple are the remains of the thick stone walls of two Spanish colonial churches, which were built by Maya forced labor from…

3. Jaguar Temple

0.15 MILES

This temple (Structure N10-9), fronting a 100yd-wide plaza, was built in the 6th century AD and modified several times up to at least the 15th century – a…

4. Ball Court

0.27 MILES

Not far west of Stela 9 is Lamanai's ball court, one of the smallest in the Maya world – but with the largest ball-court marker found yet! A ceremonial…

5. Stela 9

0.32 MILES

North of the elite residential complex, this temple was the original site of the intricately carved standing stone erected in AD 625 to commemorate the…

6. High Temple

0.35 MILES

North of the ball court, across a plaza shaded by trees, is Structure N10-43, the highest at Lamanai, which rises 125ft above the jungle canopy. Few large…

7. Mask Temple

0.42 MILES

The Mask Temple (Structure N9-56) was begun around 200 BC and modified several times up to AD 1300. It has two 13ft stylized masks of a man in a crocodile…

8. Maya Structures

0.51 MILES

At the far north end of the Lamanai site, and often missed by tour groups, this large platform, 120yd by 100yd in area, supports several large buildings…