A beautiful 80 mile journey down the western highway and east of Belize City, nestled among the northern foothills of the Maya Mountain Range, is the fabled Kingdom of the infamous ancient Maya, called;
XUNANTUNICH (Shoo-nan-too-niche), translated as “Maiden of the Rock”.
Your adventure begins along the picturesque coastal plains of Belize, down the Western Highway as the view transforms gradually into the rolling countryside, past the New Capital of Belize Belmopan City, along and through modern Creole and Mestizo Villages. We will pass the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout and marvel at their immaculately kept farmlands, a snapshot of an earlier modest way of living. Down past what was one of the three largest cattle ranches in Belize (Running “W” Ranch), through San Ignacio/Santa Elena… the twin towns of the famed Cayo District, across the Macal River then to down the southern banks of the Mopan River, our destination.
Cross over a hand operated ferry straight from a Huck Fin novel, and then walk the path of the ancient Maya Kings, XUNANTUNICH!
Now a short relaxing walk surrounded by lush tropical rain forest on all side will leave plenty of time for a cool jungle selfie or a romantic photo with the Belizean Rain forest as the backdrop.
Follow alongside your guide as your view opens to and across a beautiful grassy plaza, be amazed with the perfect architecture of El Castillo… one of the three largest Maya Temples in Belize and the largest structure on this tour. Towering above the landscape at an impressive 130ft above the plaza floor and topped with the amazingly reconstructed East and West friezes representing the Gods of Maya. Enter several of the actual inner chambers, move through temples and several courtyards where Kings, Queens and their elite once conducted sacred ceremonies honoring a never-ending parade of gods, rooted in a fantastic cosmological religion which reigned supreme in Mesoamerica for over several thousand years.
There is an excellent display center and gift shop at and along the road to the site and although we no longer can climb the “stairway to heaven” on El Castillo. The more adventurous of the group will still find a safe staircase around the side that will take you to the top. Take your photo or selfie with “Melchor de Mencos” a border town of nearby Guatemala in the background along with “Benque Viejo del Carmen” and “San Jose Succotz” a town and village of Western Belize.
Truly, the top of the world for the Maya!
Lunch will be served at a Belizean restaurant back on the highway, along with some more shopping; then move leisurely back in your transport for a relaxing ride to your point on embarkation.
Belize City to Xunantunich : 2 hours (with bathroom and shopping stop)
Site tour and lunch : About 3 hours
Return to Belize City: 2 hours (again bathroom stop if necessary)
Suggest : Sunblock, hat/cap, camera, bottled water (provided), bug spray, small packet of wipes (keep in cooler on ice) 😉