MAYA SITE OF ALTUN HA
An unmissable excursion to explore the magnificent Maya site of Altun Ha surrounded by a lush virgin rainforest. It was here that the famous Jade Head, the national symbol of Belize was found in the late 1960s.
What we will see
- Maya site of Altun Ha, Temple of the Masonry Altars, Jade Head
- Panorama of the surrounding countryside, virgin rainforest
What we will do
- We drive by coach along picturesque country roads to reach the site of Altun Ha which dates back to the Classical period (317-987 AD) of the Mayan civilisation. The site is only 11 km away from the sea and it is surrounded by a virgin broad leaved rainforest. 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 during the archaeological excavations between the late 1960s and the early 1970s 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. It is also features on the country's banknotes.
- A stone staircase built specially, allows visitors to reach the summit of the three main temples of the site to view the panorama over the surrounding countryside and the virgin rainforest.
What you need to know
- We recommend that you book early because only a limited number of places are available.
- This excursion includes an English speaking guide.
- 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.
- The excursion is reserved for guests in good health.
- 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.