Caracol, the largest Mayan archaeological site in Belize, was also the largest metropolis in the Maya lowlands during the Classic Period. In 650 AD, the urban area of Caracol had a radius of approximately 6 miles (10 km) around the center of the site. Caracol maintained a population of more than 140,000 people through the creation of an immense agricultural system and elaborate city planning.
After hotel pickup in San Ignacio, board your comfortable minivan or SUV for the approximate 2.5-hour drive to Caracol, located within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. En route, stop for a swim at Rio On Pools or Big Rock Falls, located on the Mountain Pine Ridge.
Upon arrival, follow your guide on foot along a forest trail, where you’ll learn about regional flora and fauna as you take in the stunning scenery. Observe how the trees of this lowland tropical broadleaf rainforest have taken over, guarding the ancient mysteries of Caracol. You'll see where the Maya once gazed at the stars, conducted their most sacred rituals and plotted battles, including the 562 AD defeat of Tikal.
Begin your tour at the Visitor's Center, which exhibits a number of artifacts from the site, including a recovered ceremonial altar. Your guide will recount the prehistory of peasants and nobles who built and used the courtyards, residences and astronomical observatory within the complex. Around midday, you'll enjoy a packed lunch before continuing your tour.
View three plaza groups surrounding a central acropolis and two ball courts, along with a number of smaller structures. Visit Caracol’s largest building, a pyramid called Caana, which rises more than 140 feet (43 meters) above the forest floor—so massive that three temples sit atop its base. Today, it remains the tallest human-made structure in Belize.
Your guide will point out the many hieroglyphic texts carved on stelae, altars and wall facades. Learn about the discovery of an ornately carved ball-court-marker, interpreted by archeologists as a claim of military victory over Tikal. At the end of your tour, board your coach for the return trip to San Ignacio with drop-off at your hotel.