MAYAN SITE OF ALTUN HA AND BELIZE RIVER
Sightseeing, Cultural, Lunch not included
A double excursion which takes us first of all for a cruise down the Belize River, populated by crocodiles, manatees and dolphins and then to explore the extraordinary Maya archaeological site of Altun Ha, where the famous jade head was found and later immortalised on the country's banknotes.
What we will see
- Cruise on the Belize River, crocodiles, manatees, dolphins
- Maya site of Altun Ha, Temple of the Masonry Altars
What we will do
- We cruise along the coast up to the mouth of the Belize River, which was known as Rio Wallace during the time of the Spanish conquistadores. For a long time, the river was the most important artery for transporting goods and people. It is populated by crocodiles, manatees and even dolphins and boasts a wealth of birdlife on its shores.
- We proceed by coach to the Maya site of Altun Ha. Altun Ha was a ceremonial centre during the classical period and for many years it was an exchange hub between the Caribbean coast and inland locations. The various explorations of the site have revealed that the Altun area was first populated around 200 BC; the city had a population of around 10,000 at the height of its splendour and flourished until the mysterious collapse of the Classic Maya Civilisation, around 900 AD. The site covers an area of 8 sq. km and includes various temples arranged around two squares.
- The largest of the pyramids is called the Temple of the Masonry Altars and is 16 metres high. It takes its name from the ancient altars on which resin was burned during ceremonies and pieces of carved jade were crushed. It was here that the team led by Professor David Pendergast of the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada) discovered the famous Jade Head, considered a national treasure of Belize, weighing 5 kg, which depicts the sun god. This site is still surrounded by virgin rainforest untouched by time.
- During the tour we have some free time to do some shopping close to the site, or in the port area of Belize City when we return to the ship.
What you need to know
- We recommend that you book early because only a limited number of places are available.
- There is limited availability of English speaking guides.
- Given the large number of excursions and vehicles, we cannot guarantee that a member of the ship’s crew will be available to assist you in your language.
- We recommend you bring insect repellent and a hat and that you wear comfortable shoes as we will be walking on rough ground during the visit to the excavations.
- We recommend bringing cash with you to make any purchases because not all stores accept credit cards.
- There will be a 15-20 minute boat transfer from where the ship is anchored to the pier in Belize City from where the vehicles depart.
- The coach transfer from the dock to Xunantunich archaeological site takes 60 minutes (depending on traffic) and the road may include uneven stretches.
- There are no toilets on site.
- You must pay a tax upon entry to use your camera within the archaeological site.
- Minors under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
- The river cruise will be in an open boat, it is therefore recommended that you wear a hat and that you apply sun cream and insect repellent.
- Wildlife sightings are not guaranteed as the species described live freely in the wild.