Belize is home to the largest concentration of Mayan sites in the Central American region, so visiting one of these ancient sites is a MUST during your travels.
Lamanai is one of our favourite locations to explore the structures and hear the history. With a riverboat ride to start your journey, it provides an unparalleled opportunity for both wildlife and archeological viewing.
The New River has some of the rarest birds in Belize, including the “Jesus Christ Bird” (Northern Jacana) that walks on water. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a crocodile patrolling the waters. After all, Lamanai means “submerged crocodile” in the Maya language.
While we didn’t see a crocodile on that particular trip, we did have a friendly visit with a local spider monkey. He was eager to take our fresh pineapple as he jumped into the boat, although we were careful not to get too close – they aren’t quite as cuddly as they might look!
Sit back and enjoy the cool breeze as you pass open farmlands, plants and foliage. Soon you’ll arrive at the boat dock, where your exploration begins. Before you even step off the boat, you’ll be welcomed by the distinctive sound of howler monkeys, perched high in the trees.
It’s sort of like nature’s serenade as your Mayan guide takes you on a hike through the jungle, visiting the various monuments and temples at Lamanai. Those of you who have toured the Mayan ruins in Mexico will notice one major difference. In Belize, visitors are allowed to climb the temples in the presence of a guide – at least, those who are brave enough to do so.
The High Temple certainly lives up to its name, with the highest point standing at 108 feet. A rope running up the front of the temple assists you in climbing, although for those afraid of heights the rope may be of little comfort if you dare to look down.
If you can put your fears aside and make the trip to the top, it’s worth it. The panoramic view from the top of the High Temple will take your breath away.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the temples, you can enjoy a traditional Belizean lunch in the picnic area at the base of the Lamanai site. Coconut rice, jerk chicken, and coleslaw are the highlights of the buffet, as are the dessert pastries. In Belize, it’s nearly impossible to go unsatisfied or not to have your taste buds stimulated. Even on a group excursion, the food is plentiful and has an incredible amount of flavour.
While the trees of the jungle will provide some shade, the temples are located in open sunlight, so be sure to wear a hat and bring plenty of sunscreen.
Chukka Belize can help you plan your unforgettable Mayan adventure.