The Ruins of Xunantunich and Lunch in San Ignacio Town
Belize City, Belize
- Ferry ride: Cross the Mopan River on a hand-cranked 19th-century ferry under the watchful gaze of toucans, howler monkeys, and other denizens of the Belizean wildlife.
- Xunantunich guided tour: Uncover the secrets of a once-thriving ancient city; climb "El Castillo," the second-highest structure in Belize, for views stretching all the way to Mexico.
- Belizean cuisine and live music: Treat yourself to the unmistakable flavors of the Caribbean at a San Ignacio restaurant. A marimba concert creates a relaxing vibe while you eat.
About This Belize City Tour
Xunantunich is a mouthful, no question about it. It's pronounced "shoo-nahn-too-neech" and means "stone woman" in English. Although the site is at least 14 centuries old, the name is modern, referring to a female apparition first seen in 1892. Dressed in white, eyes blazing red, locals say she ascends the steps of "El Castillo," the second-tallest structure in Belize – perhaps reenacting her own sacrifice.
The Maya considered human life the ultimate offering to the gods, required at coronation ceremonies, presentation of a new temple, or to beseech the gods for rain. We know this – and the unspeakable tortures involved – thanks to the archeologists who worked for years to decode the hieroglyphs you'll see here. They reveal a brutally religious people who were surprisingly good at math – they were the first to use the number zero as a placeholder and measure the square root of a rectangle, applying what they knew to their grand architecture.
It all adds up to an unforgettable journey into the past topped off by lunch in San Ignacio accompanied by a live marimba band. You're back in the modern world, while the stone woman exists in neither past nor present, doomed to forever climb the steps to the sacrificial altar.
Archeologists reveal that the Mayan nobility sought a distinctive appearance. Men's teeth were inlaid with jade. Mothers suspended objects in front of their infants' eyes to facilitate a cross-eyed stare, and boards were used to flatten infants' foreheads. Mayan kings used putty to build their noses into the beak-like shape of their bird-gods.
Please meet in the lobby/reception area of your hotel. Be sure to indicate the name of your hotel at check-out so we know where to meet you. Your guide will be holding a sign with GoBe or your name on it.
Take extra precautions to avoid too much exposure to the sun. Even on cloudy days, the UV is stronger than you may think.
Uphill walking involved from the parking lot to the temples. Temple area is flat walking. Climbing temples is optional and requires climbing 100-150 steps to the top of the temple.
Private Tour, Cultural, Family Friendly, Boat Tour, Shopping
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated moderate. Full participation may require extended periods of walking over even and uneven surfaces, steep terrain and/or water activity in a slight current. There may be steps, inclines, cobblestone surfaces, and extended periods of standing. Participants with physical limitations should take this into account.
Suitable for all ages provided physical requirements can be met.
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.
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