A short walk through a dense jungle canopy and we emerged to Mayan ruins towering above us – almost like a walk back in time. The monkeys could be heard howling around us while they protested our early morning arrival. We were at Lamanai Ruins in Belize.
This tour is offered by a number of guides from anywhere between $45 – $85 USD. Instead, of paying for the tour, we rented a car and drove to the ruins. The only thing we missed was a boat tour on the river, but we did this another time.
The drive to Lamanai added to our adventure. Our directions were to take the main road through Shipyard and continue on to Lamanai. Interestingly Shipyard was started by Canadian Mennonites that passed through Mexico and settled in Belize. It was interesting to see how they converted the area to agriculture production.
Eventually we became worried we missed our turn to Lamanai and asked a family repairing a fence if we were going the right way – this Mennonite family employs a local person to help with the farm work. Very interesting!
After finally spotting a wooden sign with Lamanai written on it, and a few bumps in the road later we arrived in a little town outside the park. We stocked up on Coca Cola and chips before entering the park. The entrance fee is only a few dollars to enter on your own.
One other group was around this early. After a walk through the museum we took a path down to the ruins.
We started on the Mask temple, which was impressive with its stone faces. This temple dates to around 550AD. We took some time imaging the civilization that once walked in this exact place.
The High Temple was even more impressive as it towered above us. It is 108 feet high and the tallest pre-classic structure in Belize. It was incredible and a hike to the top of the ruins gave us a bird’s eye view of jungle and river around us.
The clouds parted and the sun beat down as we visited the Jaguar temple. This temple had a huge pen court in front of it and small ruins to explore around.
Overall, we were very impressed with this site. For me, this far outweighed any Mayan Ruins I have seen in Mexico. This excursion was well worth the trip whether you use a tour group or go on your own. Come early and take some time imaging the expansive civilization that once walked there.
- Come to Lamanai before 11am to avoid the tours that arrive by boat on the river. We had the ruins almost to ourselves in the morning.
- There are hiking trails cut through the forest around the ruins that are worth a visit.
- Remember sunscreen and bug spray!
- We stayed at the Nature Resort in Bermudian landing and Royal Caribbean Resort in San Pedro.
- We booked all accommodations through booking.com.
- We booked are car rental through Crystal Auto.