What to Bring Along
- Good Hiking Shoes
- Bug Spray
- Swim wear
- Intensity: Easy-Moderate
Caracol is an entire day tour starting at 7:30 from San Ignacio. It’s an off road trip going through small Mayan Villages of Cristo Rey, San Antonio Village and passing through the Mountain Pine Ridge which is a amazing jungle experience.
Caracol is about 50 miles or a 2 hour drive from San Ignacio Town. This amazing site is located on the western edge of the Maya Mountains within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. Caracol lies on a high plateau of 500m above sea level that drops into a deep valley to the northwest and rises into hilly terrain to the southwest. The site was discovered in 1938 by Jose Maria Mai, a logger looking for mahogany. That same year the Archaeological Commissioner, A.H. Anderson, visited the site and named it 'Caracol' (Spanish for 'snail').Caracol, a major and dominant site in Mayan history, is an expansive city covering nearly 6 square miles and rivaling the ancient metropolis of Tikal in size, power, and riches.
Caracol had a huge population center at its peak, in the late classic period; 180,000-200,000 inhabitants and 30,000 structures, including an astronomical observatory. It was the largest metropolis in the Mayan Lowlands during the Classic Period, built with elaborate city planning and complex agricultural systems. This site was hidden for many centuries by the trees in the tropical broad leaf forest. Today you might catch a glimpse of howler monkeys in the mammoth trees towering over the ancient Mayan ball courts and plazas.
Here you will learn about the anthropology, archaeology, and flora and fauna of the area, including rare and endangered wildlife such as Keel-billed Toucans, Motmots, Tapirs, Wild Cats, Oscillated Turkeys, Gibnut (the “Royal Rat”) and Coatimundis.
Revel at the engineering and architectural sophistication of the Mayan people as you climb the temple pyramid structure of Caana (Sky Temple), the highest man-made building in Belize to this day. Once at the top, nearly 150 feet above the courtyards below, you will get impressive panoramic views of Belize and neighboring Guatemala.
The history of the inhabitants of Caracol is documented by scribes of the past in hieroglyphics and carvings on the monuments, stelae, wall facades and altars that are found throughout the site. Caracol has a very unique history, different from other major ancient cities in the region, and your guide will illuminate the rich and complicated past of this glorious civilization with a fully guided tour of the excavated portions of the Caracol site.
After touring the ruins, we have drinks and a picnic lunch. We then continue back through the Pine Ridge area where we take a break at the Rio on Pools, a series of natural swimming holes, to cool down and relax in the clear waters.