A step back in time – into the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha, Belize

Traveling to Belize was on my itinerary, and as I usually do, I did some reading up about the place. An article on the Mayan ruins in Altun Ha caught my interest. I found out that until the 1950s, the Belizeans were unaware of the ancient Mayan civilization’s presence in Belize.. The ruins were discovered while the Pan American highway was being built. Wow….I had to visit!

cA 25 minute drive from Maskall, where we stayed, took us to the Altun Ha ruins. Although the site is relatively small, it is thoroughly excavated and restored. Excavations revealed two sprawling plazas, temples, tombs and a myriad artifacts made of jade, pottery, stingray bones among others.

I have tried to capture the essence of the history of Altun Ha in these pictures:

Altun Ha Mayan Ruins

Here is a panoramic view of the two plazas at Altun Ha – Plazas A & B. On the right side, you can see the ‘Green tomb:. This is called so because of the 300 jade artifacts that were found in these ruins. On the far back left  you can see the “Masonry Altars” the tallest building in Altun Ha – 54 feet. While we were here, our guide made us try some of the allspice leaves you see hanging on the tree in the foreground. He said that the Mayans chewed these leaves for different purposes – one of them to stop toothache.

ALtun Ha tours

This is just a random photo of me when we arrived at the top of one of the ruins…. Behind me you can see one of the ruins that hasn’t been excavated yet and next to it you see the Temple of the Sun God, also called the Temple of the Masonry Altars.

Altun Ha Mayan Ruins

The Temple of Masonry Altars is the most iconic structure and its image is carried on the national currency.

Visiting Altun Ha

From what I hear, Altun Ha can get crowded with cruise ship passengers during the day. So I recommend that if you want to avoid crowds, the best time to visit the ruins is in the afternoon. The admission fee is about USD 5 and the site hours are from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

Altun Ha Maya Ruins

One of the good things about visiting Altun Ha is that you can still climb to the top of the temples. After we did a tour around the site, we climbed to the top of the Masonry Altars. A set of wooden steps take you up to a point where the ancient stone ones begin. These lead you to the top, a large stone platform, from which we had the most spectacular view. It was from here we caught a most stunning sunset. You can see a picture below.

Altun Ha at sunset

It was a good work out making it to the top of the Masonry Altars, but it was well worth it! We have mostly captured sunsets over oceans and seas…but this was a first. A burnished sun setting into the dark green of the jungle. Almost spiritual!

The Tour Company

We were staying at Maruba Jungle Spa Resort when we joined the Altun Ha tour. The Resort presents this as a sunset tour. So, instead of heading off to the Mayan ruins in the morning, as we had planned earlier, we went there in the late afternoon. We missed the crowds, spent time just absorbing the atmosphere AND got to see the sun setting into the jungle. Such a beautiful sight and really, it isn’t something we get to see everyday. I can’t think of a better finale to a beautiful experience, can you? If you have visited here, I would love to hear your experience of the Altun Ha…

Company Information:

Name: Maruba Jungle Spa Resort
Website: www.maruba-belize.com
Altun Ha Tour rate: USD 45/person

Carmen Anderson
Hi! I'm Carmen and I'm obsessed with boutique hotels, scuba diving and yoga. When I'm not writing about my travel experiences, I hang out on social media....a little, oh, alright, a LOT! Connect with me if you like traveling, yoga or scuba diving.

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