Our Tour of Lamanai – Mayan Ruins in Belize

Mayan Ruins in Belize

An intriguing mask sculpted into the side of the temple in the Lamanai ruins.

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!

Boat ride to Mayan Ruins in Belize

A beautiful boat ride with our experienced guides and we were off to see the Lamanai ruins!

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.

Jesus Christ Bird Lamanai Tour

Here he is – the Jesus Christ Bird, taking a rest from having walked on the water all morning. 🙂

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!!

Osprey near Lamanai

An Osprey soaring overhead kept track of us in the boat. We thought we were giving chase, but his derisive laugh told us differently!

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…

proboscis bats on a tree branch in Belize

Do you see them – the proboscis bats on this dead branch? Jonah managed to get close enough to capture a couple of them in this pic.

Lamanai Ruins

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 Mask temple at Lamanai

The Mask temple is the smallest of the three in Lamanai. It gets its name from the gigantic masks carved into the sides of the temple.

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 High Temple at Lamanai

Here we are on the steps of the High Temple, our first rest stop on the way up… just over a hundred feet more to go!

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…

View of jungle and lagoon from top of Mayan ruins in Belize

View from the top – our reward for reaching the top of the High Temple. We were surrounded by thick, green, beautiful forest – and could even see the lagoon!

 Jaguar Temple

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?!

The Jaguar Temple at Lamanai

The Jaguar Temple – the one we didn’t climb. Others did. So let’s just assume that after the other climb, this one is a piece of cake! ha ha

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

Website: www.maruba-belize.com

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!


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.

2 Responses to Our Tour of Lamanai – Mayan Ruins in Belize

  1. Kenya says:

    We get to Belize July 28th at around 10am and would like to know how much it would be to get picked up from the airport then go to Lamanai and after be dropped of at San Ignacio. It’s for 2 people. Please let me know the price. Thank you!!

    • Hi Kenya!
      I’m excited to hear that you’re going to Belize… Belize has it all! I’m sure you’ll have a great time.
      I’ll have Melanie from Maruba Resort email you directly and give you a quote.
      In the meantime, have an amazing weekend!

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