Located near the Guatemalan border, the ancient Maya city of Caracol is the largest archeological site in Belize. Discovered in 1938, Caracol covers about 65 square miles (168 square kilometers) and includes more than 35,000 structures, five plazas, and an abundance of jungle. Visit on a day trip for a unique look at Maya life.
Occupied as early as 1200 BC, Caracol holds ancient treasures, including dozens of hieroglyphic texts that were carved into altars, walls, and facades. Located in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve and surrounded by wildlife, Caracol provides great examples of Maya architecture. The Caana pyramid, or "Sky Palace, is the largest in the complex, rising 140 feet (420 meters) above ground. All-day tours leave from San Ignacio, which is about 2.5 hours’ drive.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visitors need a military escort to access Caracol.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes with good grip to explore the ruins.
- Roads to Caracol may get muddy and can be tricky to traverse during the rainy season.
How to Get There
From San Ignacio, head toward Chiquibul Road and follow it south; a 4WD vehicle is recommended for exploring Belize. The drive from San Ignacio is about 2.5 hours. Many tours offer round-trip transportation and include stops at other sights along the way.
When to Get There
Because of its proximity to Guatemala, Caracol is only accessible with a military escort. Visitors meet at a military checkpoint outside the site at 9am and join a convoy traveling to the ruins. Once at the site, you can explore freely. Late November to mid-April is Belize’s dry season and arguably the best time to visit, whereas it’s rainy between June and November.
Rio On Pools
Located in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, en route to Caracol from San Ignacio, the Rio On Pools are a popular tour stop on the way back from the archaeological site. This natural attraction features scenic waterfalls and fresh-water pools with granite rocks and ledges. Bring your swimsuit to get the most from this picturesque setting.