Altun Ha Ruins and Zip-lining Adventure
Tour Participation Requirements
Special Medical Restriction
For the Mayans, death wasn't a release from suffering or a happy union with God. It was the beginning of a grueling journey.
They believed that everyone who died traveled to Xibalba, a hellish underworld in perpetual darkness ruled by malevolent demons. The soul then began a trek through nine levels of the underworld before – assuming no detours – the ascent to Tamoanchan, a paradise of the gods.
That considered, it's no surprise that the Mayans wanted to honor the departed and help them reach everlasting happiness. That was the thinking behind Altun Ha's six-story stone Temple of the Masonry Altars, built to honor a deceased priest or king.
In 1968, archaeologists discovered a crypt underneath the temple's crumbling, mossy steps with human remains surrounded by dozens of jade artifacts. The most famous of these is the Kinich Ahau, or "jade head," a 10-pound block of jade carved into the shape of a head that now appears on Belize's currency.
It's believed that the jade carvings signified the dead's high status, helping them progress through layers of the underworld. The stone temples you'll explore here in the jungles of north Belize weren't just built to honor the gods: They were elaborate burial sites to help Mayan souls reach paradise.
In the crossed eyes of the beholder
The ancient Maya had some strange beauty standards. Flat foreheads were signs of upper class status, so parents would press wooden boards to their babies' foreheads to achieve a flat forehead look. They also favored crossed eyes, so they'd dangle things in front of their babies' eyes until their eyes were completely and permanently crossed.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.