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Mayan Ruins - which to do


jenndisney
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We love visiting ruins. First time to Belize. There are a few different ones to visit. Curious which one you would say is a great one. It sounds like one involves a ride up a river. We love that idea but the boat ride had some mixed reviews about not able to enjoy. 

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IMO, depends on what you want to see in the condition of the ruins and whether or not you are willing to risk travel time.

 

Altun Ha is just under an hour from the Belize tender pier.  Very fully excavated with a small museum.  You get a sense of how the temples looked when Mayas actually lived there.

Xunatunich is a couple of hours bus ride from the pier.  Best to use a ship excursion which would include lunch.  Ruins are accessed via a hand cranked ferry and a short shuttle ride, but are situated on a steep hill.  Fairly well excavated with high large temple from where you can see over into Guatemala.

Lamanai is the one that you need to take the boat ride to reach.  It is a longer trip but people have gotten there via private excursions. Still, if concerned about missing ship, take a ship sponsored excursion.  In the past, this set of ruins required a hike through the jungle to an not quite excavated site.  Not sure if this is still the case.  But visitors like the "Indiana Jones" feel of the site.

 

Other Maya ruins to the south are too far from Belize City but one or two might be accessible from Harvest Caye if on an NCL ship.

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On 5/22/2022 at 12:56 PM, jenndisney said:

We love visiting ruins. First time to Belize. There are a few different ones to visit. Curious which one you would say is a great one. It sounds like one involves a ride up a river. We love that idea but the boat ride had some mixed reviews about not able to enjoy. 

We were in Belize last week and did the Princess ship excursion to Altun Ha.  It included a one hour trip on the river where we saw some manatees, monkeys, and iguanas.  We stopped for lunch and then took a bus to the ruins.  Our large group was split, so the other group did the ruins first and then the boat ride. The ruins and historical information were very interesting and there are a set of wooden stairs on the tallest of the ruins that many of our group climbed (at 74, I decided to skip that!).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just got back from Lamanai; we have not done Tuna Sandwich or Altun Ha.  My impression was, while ascending the 2 temples about 9 stories was a trip highlight, the precious port time we spent in transit was awfully long, the boat ride was not any exotic Jungle Cruise expedition, and we would have seen about the same wildlife driving I-95.  The San Gervasio ruins on Cozumel were a smaller version of the same thing.  The hike and climbing the temples were hot and a bit strenuous (which we were okay with).  

 

Lamanai was plenty worth doing--the question is the opportunity cost.  Some other tour might be a better use of time, if you have never been.  Xunantanich is probably not one, since on that one you sit in a van for 2 1/2 hours each way. 

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  • 2 months later...

Were you still able to climb the high temple at Lamanai?  I read elsewhere on CC that it was no longer accessible but could not verify that as the Lamsnai official website still says the high temple can be climbed.   How hot was it in June?  Looking ahead to next summer .... Thanks!  

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On 9/6/2022 at 7:54 PM, 80sGal said:

Were you still able to climb the high temple at Lamanai?  I read elsewhere on CC that it was no longer accessible but could not verify that as the Lamsnai official website still says the high temple can be climbed.   How hot was it in June?  Looking ahead to next summer .... Thanks!  

 

People did climb the high temple but partially from a staircase built in the back, not straight up those stairs.  June - Hot and HUMID, but that is true regardless.  Lamanai is pretty epic and a lot of walking but worth it.

 

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