Mayan Ruins: Lamanaï, Belize
Highly recommend visiting this site in the Orange Walk District, take a boat tour up the Belize River till you arrive at the ruins. The ruins are large with a famous temple in the Center. You really get a sense of the architectural achievements of the Mayan Civilization.
Lamani or Submerged Crocodile is a large site usually accessed by a boat trip up the New River to the lagoon it overlooks. Dating to the Pre-Classic period, it is home to the Jaguar Temple and the High Temple, second highest in Belize. The latter dates to 100 BCE when construction was begun on this impressive monument. Other buildings around the site include the ball courst and the Temple of the Mask. Highly recommended.
We took a day trip to the Lamanai Wildlife Reserve, just for a change of pace. Of course, we chose the hottest day of the week to go.
We did our tour through Searious Adventures. It was very well run, although it was a very long day. At 7am, you are picked up at the dock and you take a 1.5 hour boat ride to the mainland. After that, we get in a van for 45 min (where we witnessed a columbian drug bust on the road!!) to get on another boat and it's another 1.5 hours to the park. The cool part is that breakfast is served on the 1st boat ride, and it is quite good (johnny cakes, fresh fruit). We were also served rum punch and beers if we wanted (why not at 9am?!). during the 2nd leg, we also saw quite a few different types of birds, bats, and tried to look for crocodiles. It was very hot, however, so sunscreen was a must. The guides are very good, and gave us a lot of unsolicited information about Belize and its culture.
Once we got to the park, we had lunch, and then had a few minutes to explore the small museum and the handicraft shops. Then we took a short trek through the jungle and learned about the wildlife. We were able to see a family of monkeys napping in a tree.
We visited 3 sites where we were able to see the ruins. The first one was not climbable, but the 2nd and 3rd ones were. These ruins were different than the ones in Mexico City because the steps were very tall and steep, and they were also a bit shorter. The view was amazing at the top! There are apparently hundreds more sites, but becuase of resources, the Belizean Gov can't support excavation.
The worst part was going back - the 2 boat rides and the van ride. We were all exhausted by the time we got back. but it was an interesting experience to see the mainland and the ancient ruins.
Lamanai is one of the most impressive Mayan ruins in Belize. The site is remarkable both for its size and for it wonderful location on the banks of a large river. Lamanai was founded in 1500 B.C. Unlike most other Mayan ruins the site was occupied at the time of the arrival of the Spanish. This was probably that unlike most of the other Mayan ruins, Lamanai was located on a large river which could supply water and a means for transportation. Although much of Lamanai has been well restored most of the vast ruins remains under dense jungle.
Today you can see three large pyramids, or temples. The best of the temples is the High Temple ,or El Castillo, that towers 35 meters over the jungle canopy. You can climb to the top and see magnificent views but beware for the climb is steep and it can get hot here. The temple was built in 100 B.C. and at that time it was the highest structure in the Mayan world. For me the Mask Temple, north of the High Temple, maybe even more impressive. This is for the four 4m high carved figures that resemble a mask. Although you can only see one of the four carvings, it is sensational. Also notable is the smaller pyramid with an accompanying stela that is well carved and a ball court located near the base of the High Temple. Lamanai also has one of the best archeological museums in Belize located on the grounds.
Another interesting aspect to Lamanai is that the jungle is host to many interesting examples of Belizian wildlife. We saw howler monkeys and an eight foot long boa constrictor.
I visited Lamanai on a bus tour that originated in San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. It was a rather awkward way to visit and you might be best to visit on a tour from Belize City.
It was ok. But a long day. You go by boat which is fun-seeing iguanas, alligators and birds. But then you get in a van and take a LONG drive on a BUMPY road forever. Tip: I sat in front and go took a little nap since there is nothing to see. As far as ruins go-I was not impressed. But I have been to several sites that have been excavated in a greater degree. If you haven't seen Mayan ruins and have the time than do it but do not do this instead of something else. You do stop at a local cafe for an exquisite lunch with a crazy parrot. Do not sit with your head in close proximity to his cage.
Sure the Mayan ruins are great, but my favorite part of this tour was the ride there! Our guide had us flying down the river on a little speedboat. Then suddenly he'd do a 180 and kill the motor, claiming that he just saw some sort of bird, etc. We all thought he was nuts; at the speed we were going there was no way you could spot a cow on the riverbank, more or less a tiny, camoflauged bird. But there it was! Without fail! A shy lizard occasionally peeking out from behind some leaves, tiny bats clinging to a tree, a turtle sunning himself. We could not get over his ability to spot things! It was supernatural! When we got to the ruins a wise-looking white dog greeted us at the dock. He proceeded to lead us through the jungle the entire way, running just a bit ahead of the tourguide as if he were the one showing us around. We saw a gathering of howler monkies, a tarantula, and of course the ruins. The whole thing was a really great experience.
A une heure de route de Belize City embarquement sur un bateau rapide qui durant une heure et demi remonte la New River et améne à Lamanaï, tres bel endroit, sauvage +++, mais les ruines sont peu dégagées, toutefois, c'est une virée indispensable.
After an hour drive, at Toll Bridge you rent a speed boat and sail on the New River, in the forest, with crocodiles birds flowers....and Menonites...
The site of Lamanaï, near a lake is cosy in the forest with monkeys, birds and the temples are interesting.
But , many cruising people, so come early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Board a boat to an outlying area, through mangrove forests, and then take a long bus ride to La Bomba Village where you board another boat to the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. There you hike to the ruins, have lunch, shop for souveniers, and return the way you came. It takes all day and you'll be exhausted, but if you are lucky you'll get a fantastic sunset on the way back.
After a one-hour drive from Belize City, we boarded a riverboat for a 90-minute tour of the New River, with its beautiful rainforest, mangroves, orchids and birds. After disembarking at the northern end of the New River Lagoon, we were served a Belizean-style lunch (bar-b-qued chicken and rice),under a cabana along the shore. We had a 90 minute tour of Lamanaim once the largest Mayan ceremonial site in Mesoamerica. Lamanai , which is Mayan for 'submerged crocodile,'was occupied as early as 1500 BC. The firt stone buildings appeared here between 800 and 600 BC. Huge masks depicting dead rulers and gods seem to materialize out of the rain forest, amid the chatter of birds and the haunting calls of howler monkeys. We also say the copal and ramon (breadnut) trees, of great importance in ancient time.