Northern Belize

Close to Orange Walk Town, Cuello (kway-yo) is one of the earliest-known settled communities in the Maya world, probably dating back to around 2400 BC, although there's not much left to show for it. Archaeologists have found plenty here, but only Structure 350, a nine-tiered pyramid, is of much interest to the non-expert. The pyramid was constructed around AD 200 to AD 300, but its lower levels date from before 2000 BC.

The site is on private property owned by Cuello Distillery, 4 miles west of Orange Walk (take San Antonio Rd out of town). It is not really open to the public, although the distillery usually allows access if you turn up during office hours. It's a good idea to call and make advance arrangements. A taxi to Cuello from Orange Walk costs about BZ$25, round trip.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Northern Belize attractions

1. Flagpole Plaza

1.73 MILES

A small plaza behind the Town Hall that was once the site of Fort Cairnes, a British military post during the War of the Castes conflict.

2. Independence Plaza

1.86 MILES

This run-down plaza near the bridge over the New River marks the site of Fort Mundy, a strategic British military position.

3. Banquitas House of Culture

1.87 MILES

The modern Banquitas House of Culture has an attractively displayed exhibit on Orange Walk's history. It's especially good on the local Maya sites, and…

4. Nohmul

7.44 MILES

For a taste of how Belize's many majestic ruins may have looked to early explorers before being excavated and landscaped, head to this vast jungle-covered…

5. Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

21.89 MILES

Between November and April, migrating birds flock to the lagoons, rivers and swamps of the massive Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, which is managed by…

6. Maya Structures

22.32 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…

7. Mask Temple

22.4 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. High Temple

22.47 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…