Mayan Ruins Highlights
Belize boasts dozens of known Mayan ruins of varying sizes and in varying states of excavation and exploration. The following itinerary hits most of the major ruins, and even allows you some time to visit the cayes. You could easily add on a side trip to the northern or southern zones, where there are several lesser-known ruins.
Day 1: The Sleeping Crocodile
Arrive into Belize City and head straight to Lamanai, staying right next door to the ancient Mayan city at the Lamanai Outpost Lodge. You'll probably arrive in the afternoon. Save the ruins for the next day, but take a boat tour on the New River Lagoon around sunset, and you'll see a host of bird species, and perhaps a real crocodile or two.
Days 2 & 3: Life in Ruins
Spend the morning exploring the Lamanai ruins. Get there early before the tour groups arrive, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the site. Have lunch at the hotel and then head over to Chan Chich Lodge. Settle into your room here, which is set on the central plaza of a Mayan ruin. Spend the following day exploring the ruins at and around Chan Chich. If you have time, head over to nearby La Milpa, a large site with an active and ongoing excavation.
Days 4, 5 & 6: Cayo Calling
Head to the Cayo District and stay at one of the lodges in San Ignacio or on the way to Benque Viejo. Be sure to take a trip to Actun Tunichil Muknal, an almost full day hiking and spelunking tour, which includes a look at ancient Mayan pottery shards and calcified skeletons. Still, in the afternoon, you can squeeze in a visit to Cahal Pech, which is right in the town of San Ignacio. Over the next 2 days, you can visit the ruins of Xunantunich, El Pilar, and the Mayan ceremonial burial cave at Chechem Ha.
Day 7 & 8: Tikal Time
Take a 2-day/1-night trip to Tikal. Stay at one of the lodges right at the ruins. Get an early start in order to beat the crowds and because the ruins here are so extensive. Make sure you set aside plenty of time to explore the amazing ruins here, but also schedule some time to enjoy the quaint little island city of Flores. Return to Belize in the afternoon of Day 8, and head to the Mountain Pine Ridge area, staying at either Blancaneaux Lodge or Hidden Valley Inn. Horseback riders should stay at Mountain Equestrian Trails and do the following day’s activity by horseback.
Day 7: Caracol
Visit the ruins at Caracol. Stop at the Río Frío Cave and Río on Pools on your way back from the ruins.
Days 8 & 9: Enjoying the Cayes
Unwind for a couple of days on Ambergris Caye. If you didn't get to visit Altun Ha during your inland stint, you can easily visit as a day tour by boat and minivan from here. You can also arrange boat trips to the tiny ruins of Chac Balam in the Bacalar Chico National Park & Marine Reserve or to Cerros outside Corozal.
Day 10: Heading Home
Return to Belize City in time for your international connection.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.