Belize has some of the most impressive and well preserved Mayan ruins in the world.
Caracol, Xunantunich and Cahal Pech are three of the best known ruins in the Cayo District of Belize. But if you want to experience the mecca of Mayan culture, I would recommend making the trek into Guatemala to visit Tikal.
Tikal is the largest excavated Mayan site in the world, dating back to about 1,000-400 BC. Archeologists believe more than 50,000 people lived in the ancient city during it’s peak. It is truly breathtaking to walk among these large, ancient pyramids, some of which you can climb to experience stunning views of the park, the other temples, and the surrounding jungle.
Tikal is roughly a two hour drive from San Ignacio and can be booked using a tour company, or if you choose to do so, you can somewhat easily drive yourself across the Guatemalan border yourself, and visit the park on your own. The advantage of doing it this way is obviously the cost savings. It’s about $200 cheaper for two people if you opt out of the tour and drive yourself. The disadvantage to a self-guided visit is that you will miss out on a lot of fascinating facts and information about the park and the Mayan civilization that you otherwise will never know.If you choose to forego the guide, do some research first so you know what you’re looking at. This website has some great information about Tikal, including facts about the burials of various rulers and Mayan kings, sacrifices, and the significance of the different structures in the park.
It is definitely worth the drive to experience this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, you would be remiss if you did not visit.