Explore Xunantunich, Caracol & Cahal Pech Belize Mayan Ruins
In addition to its stunning natural surroundings, the Macal River Camp is located in what is known as the Heartland of the Ancient Maya Civilisation.
The Chaa Creek area was a thriving agricultural and trade centre during the days when the ancient Maya Empire spread far and wide throughout what is now Central America and the Yucatan Peninsula.
Perched on the Macal River between the sprawling metropolises of Caracol and Tikal, with elegant El Pilar, the ceremonial centre of Xunantunich and the royal residence of Cahal Pech as neighbors, Chaa Creek would have supported a vibrant population, as the 70 archaeological sites – many of them dwellings – underground storage facilities known as Chultuns, the temple of Tunichilen and other artefacts surrounding the Macal River Camp attest.
It’s little wonder that many visitors who arrive with little interest in the Maya of Belize soon find themselves fascinated with this highly advanced, enigmatic civilization whose sudden disappearance is still hotly debated by archaeologists and scholars.
However, there is no debate that the ancient Maya were one of the greatest, most advanced ancient societies the world has seen. Secluded from the rest of the world in remote rainforests, the Maya developed a written language, invented paper making and established huge libraries said to rival Alexandria’s. They were at medicine, including heart and brain surgery using obsidian scalpels as sharp as any steel blades today. The Maya were also accomplished mathematicians who discovered the concept of zero long before other cultures. This allowed them to make elaborate calculations that their astronomers used to predict the motion and position of celestial bodies far into the future with astounding accuracy.
Recently, scientists using LiDAR technology have discovered that ancient Maya cities and suburbs were even larger then previously supposed, and that the exquisite structures we marvel at today only hint at the true magnitude of their far-flung empire.
And marvel we do at the Maya cities, temples and other artefacts scattered throughout Belize. Xunantunich, with its beautiful temple pyramid offering exquisite views of Belize and Guatemala from its top, is a short distance from the Macal River Camp. Cahal Pech and its informative visitors’ centre also lies just outside San Ignacio Town.
The ancient cities of Caracol and Tikal make for interesting day trips, as does the ceremonial cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal with its many well-preserved artefacts, altars and skeletons of sacrificial victims; including the poignant Crystal Maiden, sparkling under her patina of mineral deposits.
Many Chaa Creek guides are accomplished Mayanists, and with the Macal River Camp situated in the Maya heartland, our guests have the rare opportunity to explore Belize’s most renowned ancient Maya sites in comfort and ease.
Ask us to help you embark on this fascinating journey of discovery – you won’t be disappointed.
Departures: Anytime between 7:30 am and 2:30 pm
Distance: Anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours drive
Duration: Anywhere from 2 - 6 hours
Fitness: Easy with optional moderate climbing
What to bring along: Hat, sunscreen, water, insect repellant, camera, and raingear if needed
Dress: Short or long pants and comfortable footwear - short sleeve lengths