Belize Tours & Adventures with Trained Jungle Guides

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Offering Tours for the Discriminating Adventurers Since 1996

Lamanai Mayan Ruins

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"We truly enjoyed all 3 tours that we took with Pacz
Our guides, Oscar (shark slayer), Ramos, and Bruce, were all knowledgeable about the land, the country & history, and the culture. Bob was friendly & easy to work with in coordinating all the tours and ensuring we had the correct gear. Without tour companies like Pacz, I don't think we would have been able to see any of these incredible sights. We highly recommend booking through Pacz!"

Lamanai Tour Description

The very name Lamanai comes from the Yucatec Maya word “lam’an’ain,” or “submerged crocodile.” Once a great city—waxing in power, even as cities to the south like Tikal and Caracol were waning—its ruins lay buried until the 1970s, when archaeologists started excavating the site. They eventually learned that Lamanai was one of the most continually inhabited cities in all of the Maya lowlands, with evidence of occupation dating back to the 16th century BC (!). An extensive museum displays dozens of artifacts, including many made of copper, found buried with elites.

Among all of Belize’s archaeological treasures, Lamanai is special because the journey to get there is just as thrilling as the destination. You’ll leave early in the day from home sweet San Ignacio, then drive through the morning mists, northward to Orange Walk, so named for the old citrus plantations in the area. You’ll go straight to the docks on the New River, where you’ll transfer to a small but comfortable speedboat with a sun roof—and then the ride begins! Since the land is flat, navigating New River is like riding a go-kart on a race track. But this track isn’t straight: it’s a labyrinth of curves and forks and double-backs, passing through reeds and rushes and Mennonite farmland. 

Your guide knows exactly what path to take, and moreover, will introduce you to whatever resident river birds, monkeys, and crocodiles turn up to say hi. Then you finally arrive in a huge lagoon, where the top of High Temple peeks up over the jungle canopy.

After exploring the museum, your guide will show you the site itself. On beautifully kept grounds, there are three majestic temples, each built during a different time period. The Mask Temple is famous for its enormous carved stone facades; the Jaguar Temple is a national icon that appears on the label of every Belikin’s beer in the country. But the High Temple affords the most breathtaking view—if you climb all the steps to the top, you can see over the jungle canopy to the entire river lagoon, and imagine what it must have been like as a busy port a thousand years ago. Because of its unique location, Lamanai is unlike any other Maya site in Belize.

The Mask Temple

The Jagaur Temple

The High Temple

How old is Lamanai?

according to Wikipedia: Lamanai was occupied as early as the 16th century BC. The site became a prominent centre in the Pre-Classic Period, from the 4th century BC through the 1st century CE. In 625 CE, “Stele 9” was erected there in the Yucatec language of the Maya. Lamanai continued to be occupied up to the 17th century AD.

What is the best Mayan ruin to visit in Belize?

Out of the nine (9), Mayan Ruins in Belize, Altun Ha or Xunantunich would be the best Mayan ruin to visit. Altun Ha is best for people who want to visit from San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Belize City. Xunantunich is best when you are staying in Caya District.

Lamanai Mayan Ruins Video

A neat little Mayan site to visit for a couple hours or combine with another tour.