Fodor's Expert Review Xunantunich

Benque Viejo Archaeological Site/Ruins

One of the most accessible Mayan sites in Belize, Xunantunich, (pronounced shoo-nan-too-nitch), is located on a hilltop site above the Mopan River west of San Ignacio. You take a hand-pulled ferry across the river (it carries pedestrians and up to four vehicles), near the village of San José Succotz. The ferry is free, but tip the operator a Belizean dollar or two if you wish. Tour guides offer their services as you board the ferry, but you do not need a guide to see the ruins. After crossing the Mopan on the ferry, drive or hike about a mile to the visitor center and the ruins. Although settlement of Xunantunich occurred much earlier, the excavated structures here, in six plazas with about two dozen buildings, date from 200 to 900 A.D. El Castillo, the massive 120-foot-high main pyramid and still the second-tallest structure in Belize after Caana at Caracol, was built on a leveled hilltop. The pyramid, which you can climb if you have the energy, has a spectacular 360-degree... READ MORE

One of the most accessible Mayan sites in Belize, Xunantunich, (pronounced shoo-nan-too-nitch), is located on a hilltop site above the Mopan River west of San Ignacio. You take a hand-pulled ferry across the river (it carries pedestrians and up to four vehicles), near the village of San José Succotz. The ferry is free, but tip the operator a Belizean dollar or two if you wish. Tour guides offer their services as you board the ferry, but you do not need a guide to see the ruins. After crossing the Mopan on the ferry, drive or hike about a mile to the visitor center and the ruins. Although settlement of Xunantunich occurred much earlier, the excavated structures here, in six plazas with about two dozen buildings, date from 200 to 900 A.D. El Castillo, the massive 120-foot-high main pyramid and still the second-tallest structure in Belize after Caana at Caracol, was built on a leveled hilltop. The pyramid, which you can climb if you have the energy, has a spectacular 360-degree panorama of the Mopan River valley into Guatemala. On the eastern wall is a reproduction of one of the finest Mayan sculptures in Belize, a frieze decorated with jaguar heads, human faces, and abstract geometric patterns telling the story of the Moon's affair with Morning Light.

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Archaeological Site/Ruins Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge Green Historical Family

Quick Facts

George Price Hwy. (Benque Rd.)
San José Succotz, Cayo  Belize

822-2106

www.nichbelize.org

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: BZ$10

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