While visiting Belize, one of the activities that I wanted to do was visit the Mayan Ruins. There are so many to choose from, but Lamanai Ruins ended up being the one that we picked because it seemed more adventurous. Lamanai Ruins is one of the oldest occupied Mayan Ruins between 1500 BC to 1680 AD and nicknamed the "Submerged Crocodile."
I have to be honest. The excursion was pricey considering all the modes of transportation that were necessary to get us from our resort in San Pedro, Belize to Lamanai. It was less of a hassle for us because we did not have to do all of the bookings ourselves. Our hotel, Coco Beach Resort, took care of all the logistics along with pairing us with a reputable tour company. In total, with all the transportation, food, and touring Lamanai, the total price was $225 per person with Tuff Enuff Tours (booking here).
It was an early journey getting to Lamanai Ruins, as we departed from the docks of our resort at 5:45 a.m. We had to be transported by water taxi over to the local airport in San Pedro. At the airport, the tour company prepared us for the day as they served breakfast sandwiches and beverages before our short 15-minute flight over to Belize City Airport.
Once we landed in Belize City, our transportation was waiting for us at the airport. Where there was another hour's drive to the Mestizo Village named Carmelita. Once there, we were joined with other tourists and loaded up on a larger speedboat, to journey down New River to Lamanai Ruins.
On the speedboat, we swiftly journeyed down New River with the wind blowing through our hair. Making brief stops so that we could see wildlife sightings like various bird species and crocodiles lurking in the water, hence the nickname the Submerged Crocodile.
Once the whole group arrived in Lamanai, we walked up the dock to lunch already ready for us. They served everyone stewed chicken, rice, beans, and a vegetable salad. After everyone had eaten lunch, our guide begins our guided tour of the ancient Mayan City. The ruins have hiking trails through the beautiful forest. Lamanai Ruins is a large site with some of the temples being a short distance apart from each other.
Our guide made sure to go over the history of each ruin site and answering any additional questions that we had. The guide spent some time quizzing us also to make sure we were retaining some of the information. It made for good interaction among the group. Some of the Mayan Ruins that you will see at Lamanai include the Jaguar Temple, High Temple, the Ball Court, and the Mask Temple.
The temples onsite are very representative of their names. The Jaguar Temple is named that because there are two jaguar masks located at the base of the temple. It stands at 65 feet tall, but it may be much taller than that, as they don't believe the temple has fully excavated yet.
High Temple currently stands the tallest out of all the current structures at 108 feet. Once at the top, you can see panoramic views of the vast jungle. Visitors usually would have to hike the steeps steps in the front to get to the top of the temple, but that is no longer the case. They have now built steps located around the back of High Temple that makes it much easier to get to the top. It also protects the old structure from getting damaged any further from visitors climbing to the top.
The Ball Court is located right in front of High Temple, where an activity took place for the Mayans. They would use a rubber ball that weighs around 9 pounds and formulated two teams to play against each other. The game consisted of players using anything but their hands like their elbows and knees to get the ball through stone hoops. That game often ended in the captain of the losing team killed.
The Mask Temple has the face of a Mayan King that is at least 13 feet on both sides. They say that this particular ruin had likely gone through a few different modifications overtime during the Mayan rule. The Mayan King's face is on both sides adorned with a headdress that is of a crocodile. Our guide also revealed that the excavations of this temple revealed two burial tombs.
I must also say that this was an all-day tour. So I would recommend if you're choosing to visit Lamanai to wear light-weight, comfortable clothing and shoes. Plus, you're going to be out in the middle of the jungle, so protect yourself by using sunscreen and insect repellent.