I love Belize! I love the food, the culture and the ambiance. Its a great place for just chilling out and/or exploring, whatever takes your fancy. There really are many things to do in Belize. As for me, I love exploring. We were staying at Maruba Resort Jungle Spa in Maskall and one of the tours they organize is to the Lamanai ruins. I joined the tour not having done my usual reading up. So I didn’t really know what to expect. As it turned out, we had to take a beautiful, long boat ride on the New River and head down to the New River Lagoon, to get to Lamanai. A good way to start!
The boat ride to Lamanai ruins
It was a 26 mile journey that introduced us to birds like we’d never seen before. Get this, we got to see the ‘Jesus Christ Bird’. Yes, that’s right, the bird gets its name from the fact that it practically walks on water.
The New River opens out into a wide lagoon with tropical forests and mangroves on either side. Ever ready with my camera, I happened to see a crocodile, click, click, click, I went, so grateful that it remained still….till Jonah happened to glance in my direction to ask why I was photographing a floating log! Ugh!!
Drifting as we were, down the river, I was so absorbed looking in surprise at a Mennonite colony, I completely missed the explanation about a tree that everyone was looking intently at. Must be a special tree, I thought, and asked for the boat to move further away, so I could get a better shot of it. Till Jonah, (yes, alert man!), looked at me wondering why I needed to get further away to get a good shot. There were several bats hanging upside down from a dead branch (looking like tree bark), and I actually needed to get closer to get that good shot! Duh…
Our half mile walk through the rain forest was indescribably beautiful. I had never seen trees like this before. Lamanai, I learnt, meant ‘submerged crocodile’. There apparently were many crocodile representations found on the site. This was one of the most occupied and largest Belize Mayan ruins to date. Lamanai housed between 20,000 to 50,000 people between 1500 BC to 1680 AD! There is a LOT to see here with over a 100 minor structures, 12 major buildings and a ball court. As in all Mayan sites in Belize, the temples are really high and built symmetrically.
The High Temple
The High Temple (also known as the Rain God Temple) is tallest of them all and stands at 112 feet! All the temples in Lamanai are very steep with steps leading up to the top. The temple looked daunting, but I saw people climbing up, and I thought, what the heck, I will too!
The terrifying sound of howler monkeys accompanied us as we climbed up, of course we had to have a few stops in between to catch our breath! And wow…what a stunning panoramic view when we reached the top…
I did warn you there is a lot to see in the Lamanai ruins. The Jaguar temple was our next stop. It takes its name from the two jaguar heads sculpted on the facade. This one is about a hundred feet high, and although there were people climbing this one too, I decided to skip the climb. I’d already done 112 feet, remember?!
A few hours around the Lamanai ruins and we were so ready to head off to the picnic area where we were treated to a delicious traditional Belizean meal of stewed chicken, rice, beans and cole slaw. These Mayan ruins are very vast, and if you have climbed a couple of temples, you do build up a very healthy appetite. So it was a fitting finale!
The Tour Company
We joined the Lamanai Tour with Maruba Resort. All I can say is that I love the small tours this resort organizes. Their guides are very knowledgeable and always so accommodating with our requests.
Name: Maruba Resort Jungle Spa
Rates: USD 125/person.
Disclaimer: We were invited by Maruba Resort to join this tour. However, my recommendations come from the wonderful experience and all that I learnt from our visit to the ruins.
Have you been to the Lamanai ruins? I always love to hear about other’s experiences. DO let me know what yours was like!
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