Visit the hidden Mayan city of Lamanai and discover the ruins of Belize’s most fascinating archeological site. Your guided day trip from San Ignacio takes you deep into the rainforest where monkeys and tropical birds inhabit hillside structures like the Mask Temple, Jaguar Temple and High Temple. Named ‘submerged crocodile’ in Mayan for the remains that have not been entirely uncovered, the remote site of Lamanai is reached by riverboat across New River (Rio Nuevo), followed by a short hike. Round-trip hotel transport is included.
After hotel pickup, relax on an approximate 2-hour drive along Belize’s Western and Northern Highways, keeping an eye out for lowland villages and a variety of bird species that inhabit the region close to Lamanai.
Board a riverboat and embark on a scenic cruise along the New River, traversing multiple creeks and lagoons en route to the Mayan site. Your guide will point out raptors like black hawks, kites and falcons, as well as local flora such as orchids and bromeliads among the hardwood trees. Observe herons, Jabiru storks and jacanas around the lily pads, spider monkeys overhead, and crocodiles basking on sunny riverbanks.
The breathtaking ruins of Lamanai rise into view at the entrance to the New River Lagoon, the largest body of freshwater in Belize.
From here, set out on a 1.5-mile (2.5-km) jungle hike to reach the site nestled in the rainforest. Upon arrival, discover Mayan artifacts at the small museum before touring the Mayan city—the largest and oldest in Belize.
Follow your informative guide on foot to the plazas and temples, such as the Temple of the Mask, which dates back to 450 AD and is the smallest of the excavated main temples. Here, two 13-foot (4-meter) stone faces adorn each side. At the Stela Temple you’ll see a stone monument depicting the Mayan ruler Lord Smoking Shell in ceremonial dress. Visit the Jaguar Temple, where a jade mask was unearthed, and pass the ceremonial ball court before ascending the High Temple, which rises 100 feet (33 meters). Listen to the chatter of birds and the calls of howler monkeys as you appreciate the extraordinary views from the top of the site still buried in the hillside.
After lunch, free time is available for more sightseeing in the rainforest. On your way back to the New River Lagoon, your guide will point out medicinal flora such as the copal and ramon trees used by the Mayans. After returning by riverboat, you’ll be driven back to San Ignacio and dropped off at your hotel.