I enjoyed Cahal Pech much more than I thought I would. It doesn't have the large, impressive looking structures like Xunantunich or Caracol, but it had several smaller structures and lots of hallways and nooks and crannies to explore. If you like to wander around and explore, make sure to visit Cahal Pech. They said it Plus, it's on a main road in San Ignacio, so much easier to get to than Caracol.
Cahal Pech demonstrates the late pre-classic temples and had two separate ball courts. It was probably a hilltop residence of royalty. It was abandoned by 800 A.D. and consists of 34 structures. There was also a little museum at the visitor's center, but I'm not sure it was worth an extra fee just to see the visitor's center. If time is limited, just see the ruins and skip the museum.
These Mayan ruins are located a 30 minute uphill walk from San Ignacio. There are 34 structures here and evidence of occupation as early as 1000 BC. It is believed to have served as a royal residence.
I liked the intimacy of Cahel Pech, there are many narrow hallways and archways leading to small rooms and courtyards.
The ruins are open from 6am to 6pm. Admission is $5 US.
See my travelogue for more photos from Cahel Pech.
Cahal Pech was the easist of the Mayan ruins for me to visit as it was just a 5 minute walk from my hotel. Hence it was also the first ruin in Belize that I toured on my own without the "interference" of a guide. The site is located near the top of a hill overlooking the town of San Ignacio. Like many of the Mayan ruins in Belize the site is covered with dense jungle.
Cahal Pech was occupied continuously from 1200 B.C. to 800 A.D. when like much of the Mayan world, it fell into decline. It was probably a very important town and dominated the Belize River valley.
You enter the site through a small but decent museum. Then you wander down a footpath through the jungle until you get to Plaza B. This is where you will find the Audiencia which the tallest pyramid here. Surrounding the plaza are other buildings consisting of chambers and rooms that I was able to crawl and climb around. This is something I did little of on the tours of other Mayan sites. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. You can also visit Plaza A and Plaza D which smaller but enjoyable. The site is very shady because of all the trees and a visit is therefore quite enjoyable on a hot day.
Cahal Pech is open daily from 8am to 4pm. It cost $10 to visit.
Cahal Pech was populated by the Mayans from 1000 BC to AD 800.
"Cahal Pech" means "place of ticks" but that's not what the Mayans called it. The name comes from the 1950's when the area was used as a cow pasture.
I put more photos of Cahal Pech in a travelogue.
Controvery surrounds the Cahal Pech site, as locals objected to the overly restored feel of the Maya ruins at this site.
Although quite important for Belizean archeology, the main temple has been "restored" for tourists with plastered carvings in a Disneyworld style. Cahal Pech, "Place of the Ticks", was given when the area was used a cow pasture.
We didn't enjoy this site too much, as it seemed overly commercialized and geared towards tourists.
Cahal Pech is a nice place to see, but if you are really intereted in mayan ruins you shold visit xunantunich. it is the best mayan site in belize, in my opinion. its alittle out of the way but a definate must in you are going to visit one site. at cahal pech there are a couple sacrifical walls still in tact and what seems like a mini ball court, but they are pretty obscure and the site is not that extensive.