Caracol Archaeological Reserve

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Rio on Pools in Mountain Pine Ridge
Rio on Pools at Mountain Pine Ridge

Caracol is the largest Maya temple in Belize. It is located 1 hour south of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, which is a 2-hour drive from San Ignacio, Cayo. The site is one of the most popular sites in Mesoamerica, rich with history and mystique, rivalling Tikal in Guatemala–considered one of the greatest ancient wonders of the world.

Since Caracol is near Moutain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, take advantage of being there and visit other jungle attractions such as the Rio Frio Cave, Rio On Pools, and Big Rock Falls.

Caracol tour experience

2012 Winter Solstice in Belize
Caracol during 2012 Winter Solstice

Caracol was the most important political center of the lowland Maya during the Classic Period within Belize. In 650 CE, the urban area of Caracol had a radius of approximately 10 kilometres around the site’s epicenter and had a larger population than present-day Belize City, which is Belize’s largest urban area.

The Caracol tour starts at the visitor’s center, which exhibits a number of artifacts from the site, including a recovered ceremonial altar. Your guide will recount the prehistory of peasants and nobles who built and used the courtyards, residences, and astronomical observatory within the complex. View three plaza groups surrounding a central acropolis and two ball courts, along with a number of smaller structures.

Visit Caana, one of Caracol’s largest buildings, which rises more than 140 feet (43 meters) above the forest floor and is the tallest manmade structure in Belize. Your guide will point out the many hieroglyphic texts carved on stela, altars, and wall facades. Learn about the discovery of an ornately carved ball-court-marker, interpreted by archeologists as a claim of military victory over Tikal.

It is recommended that you leave Caracol at 2pm so that you can receive an escort. Several years ago there were robbery incidents from Guatemala incursions and as a result, military escorts were instituted. The drive back from Caracol to San Ignacio is 3 hours.

Things to bring on tour

  • Hiking shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Camera
  • Hat and sunglasses

Entrance fee and what’s included

  • $7.50 US entrance fee per person
  • Non-guided experience

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