Exploring ancient Maya ruins in Caracol, Belize

Caracol was probably the most spectacular place I visited during my stay in Belize. From atop the temples you can scout far and wide from one of the largest Mayan cities in the World. Caracol is a bit of a drive from San Ignacio, but worth the wait as you get this ‘hidden gem’ almost to yourself.

Most people who find their way to Belize or Central America tend to visit other Mayan Temples (such as Xunantunich or Chichen Itza in Mexico), some people even say they have seen enough of them! This was my first Mayan Temple visit and it was amazing.

Here I am soaking in the fresh air atop the highest man-made structure in Belize to date, called ‘Caana’

Not only did we have a guide to show us around Caracol, he was even a naturalist and knew a lot about the local wildlife such as birds, besides Mayan history and botany. We booked our the tour with MayaWalk, which was based in San Ignacio.

You can easily spend at least half a day trotting around the ruins, hiking atop the temples and gazing into the horizon. Climb down the tombs, walk the Mayan Highway from temple to temple and listen to the stories of the past. This is one of the times where I really valued having a guide!

Upon entering the site, you are greeted by two of these giants. Lookout for the cool leaf-cutter ants, they might use the tree trunk as their highway!

Caracol grew into one of the largest Ancient Mayan cities, covering 177 km² and with an estimated population of over 100,000. Even the structures are taller than in Tikal in Guatemala! (Read about the most spectacular sunsets in Tikal).

Bird-wise you can be lucky and see the rare Harpy Eagle. We didn’t look for it but gosh, now I wish we had tried! Our guide Giovanni was an eager bird watcher and pointed out new species to me, which I was thankful for.

Lush forest surrounding the ruins at Caracol

The company provided refreshments and a nice, local lunch after exploring the huge archaeological site for a couple of hours.

Breathtaking views from atop ‘Caana’, the sky palace

On the way back we visited some natural springs and potholes (called Rio On Pools) for a swim followed by the Rio Frio cave.

Rio On Pools, perfect for a swim to end your day!

It was a great day for outdoor adventures and I highly recommend it to outdoor people who enjoy ancient history and natural history. If you are interested in reading more about the history, the buildings, wars and more, Wikipedia has quite an extensive article about mighty Caracol.

Nice to know

The tour was a full day spent in Caracol, including visiting the potholes (Rio On Pools) and the Rio Frio Cave (I didn’t get any good photos from there, that’s why you don’t get to see it here!). If you decide to drive there yourself in a rented car there is a waterfall in the area too.

Bring a large hat, water, good shoes, camera and binoculars if you have!

Just me pretending I am Indiana Jones 🙂

//Rie

© All photos are my own and may not be used without permission.

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