Once home to more than a million people, the ancient Mayan Empire once stretched from Mexico down through Guatemala, with Belize as its beating heart. After the mysterious collapse of this once-great empire in the centuries before Europeans arrived in the Americas, the Mayan cities were abandoned, left to be reclaimed by the jungle.
Today, modern archeologists have uncovered many of these once-lost cities and have opened the sites for visitors to explore and marvel at the beautiful architecture, soaring pyramids and majestic temples carved from native stone and set into place without the use of wheels or animal power. Two of the best excavated Mayan ruins in Belize today are Xunantunich and Cahal Pech.
Xunantunich Mayan Ruins
From a Mayan term meaning “Stone Woman”, this impressive site is only accessible by ferry as it is built with a gorgeous view of the Mopan River. Once an important ceremonial center, Xunantunich is home to “El Castillo” (Spanish for “The Castle”), a majestic stone temple that is still one of the tallest buildings in Belize.
Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins
Despite its unprepossessing modern Mayan name meaning “Place of the Ticks”, Cahal Pech was originally a hilltop city built for the ancient empire’s elite. With a towering command of the Macal River, Cahal Pech has more than 34 different buildings, including a large temple more than 25 meters (82 feet) high.
Easy Belize Day Trips from Yok Ha Island Resort
The gorgeous privately-owned island resort of Yok Ha just eight miles offshore from Dangriga in southeastern Belize is a truly one-of-a-kind experience. With just five elegantly appointed accommodations, a beachfront restaurant, bar, dive center, and a small support staff, guests can enjoy unparalleled intimacy and luxury while remaining close to all of the best that the Belize Barrier Reef and mainland Belize have to offer.
Day trips to both Xunantunich and Cahal Pech are simple and easy from the Yok Ha resort. For more information on how to schedule a tour of these unforgettable Mayan ruins and details about other exciting trips from the resort, click here.