What You’ll See at Xunantunich

What You’ll See at Xunantunich


Xunantunich is one of the more popular Mayan ruins in Belize. It is close to some of the most popular places to stay, which makes it heavily trafficked by tourists. That doesn’t mean, however, that the ruins are going to be overrun. Like most places in Belize, even on busy days, you’ll have plenty of alone time and quiet when you visit these ruins. Home to El Castillo, one of the most famous ruins in Mayan history, this site is of both archeological and historical significance. Here’s what you can expect when you visit this area:

A Hand Crank Ferry Ride

In order to get to the site, you will probably have to cross a river. There is a hand-cranked ferry that will transport you across the water. This is the first adventure that you will get to experience. It does not take very long, but it is a unique experience, especially for those that have never ferried before.

A Leisurely Hike

Many people will avoid visiting ruins because they hear that to actually be able to see them, you have to hike. It’s true, Xunantunich like most ruins, requires a little bit of a hike. Unlike some other ruins, however, you won’t spend an hour hiking up and an hour hiking out. Instead, you’ll have a short walk up to the ruins, past the visitor center, where you can collect some information about the ruins if you want or need to.

A Dense Forest

Xunantunich is surrounding by a dense jungle. As you follow the path, you’ll start to see the remnants of the site rise up out of the forest. It is almost nestled in the trees. From the top of the temple, you can look out and see plenty of green, a sight which is unlike any other in the world.

Steps and Climbing

There are some steps that you will have to climb in order to get up to the top of El Castillo—but you knew that already. Mayans are famous for their stepped temples. The climb is definitely worth the view and the ruins that you’ll get to explore once you’ve reached the top. Be sure to check out the carvings on the sides of El Castillo that have been carefully preserved with plaster.