Take a guided tour of the archaeological site of Xunantunich, a Mayan gemstone hidden deep in the rainforest. Learn about the history of the site and climb the famous El Castillo temple.
Some 80 miles (130km) on paved highway east of Belize City, among the northern foothills of the Maya Mountain Range, is one of the fabled kingdoms of the ancient Maya, called Xunantunich (Shoo-nan-too-niche), meaning “Maiden of the Rock”. Leaving Belize City behind, you'll enjoy a scenic drive aboard your air-conditioned tour van. Roll along the Western Highway through the coastal plain of Belize and through the hilly countryside. Ride past the new capital city of Belmopan, along Creole and Meztiso Villages and pass the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout with their beautifully kept farmlands. Then, drive through San Ignacio and Santa Elena and across the Macal River to the southern banks of the Mopan River. Cross over the Mopan River by ferry and head to Xunantunich, a Mayan gemstone hidden in the Belizean rainforest. Then, enjoy a guided tour of the site and wander across grassy plazas. Marvel at the perfect architecture of El Castillo, one of the three largest Maya Temples of Belize, and the largest structure on this site, standing 130 feet (40 meters) above plaza level. Its reconstructed East and West friezes represent Gods of the Maya and boast several inner chambers. Move through other temples and courtyards where kings, queens and their elite once carried out special ceremonies honoring a pantheon of gods of a fantastic cosmological religion which reigned supreme in Mesoamerica for several thousands of years. There is an excellent display at the center of the site, and you'll have a chance to climb the “stairway to heaven” on El Castillo. From the top, you'll enjoy panoramic views for as far as the eye can see. You'll truly be at the top of the Mayan world!