The Temples of Xunantunich, Barton Creek Cave, and Lunch
San Ignacio, Belize
- Xunantunich: This sacred city on a high plateau includes the 133-foot-tall pyramid called El Castillo, six large plazas, and 26 stone temples and palaces.
- Barton Creek Cave: Take a canoe ride on a giant river in a cave filled with dramatic geological formations, skeletal remains, and Mayan artifacts placed carefully on overhead ledges.
- Lunchtime serenade: We'll stop for a light lunch in the frontier-like town of San Ignacio, nicknamed Cayo, where you'll be serenaded with marimba music.
About this San Ignacio tour
Pronounced shoo-nahn-too-neech, Xunantunich is a one-square mile collection of ancient Maya temples and palaces, built in the sixth century and abandoned around 1000 A.D. It was a living, breathing city, with residential structures for the elite and middle class, places for worship and public ceremonies, even a ball court. Although this wasn't a place for pick-up games losing players were put to death.
Climb to the top of the pyramid called El Castillo, the second tallest structure in Belize and you can see all the way to Guatemala.
You'll also see the remains of a frieze divided by frames of twisted cord that tells the Mayan creation story: the birth of a god associated with the royal family, deities from the beginning of the universe, and the tree of life.
In Mayan, Xunantunich means "stone woman," or "maiden of the rock," referring to the ghost of a woman many claim to have seen in front of El Castillo after its discovery in 1892. Dressed in white, her eyes glowing a fiery red, she is said to ascend the pyramid's stone stairs and disappear into a wall. Perhaps she's upset that her team lost the game.
You bet your life
The Mayan ball game was sort of a cross between soccer and basketball, with an unbeatable home-field advantage: The visiting team was made up of captives who had never played before. This made upsets unlikely and rematches even more so, as the losers were usually sacrificed. Still, the games attracted huge numbers of spectators and bettors, although wagering on the home team could hardly be called a gamble.
Cruise ship travelers: Please proceed pier side to meet your GoBe Rep. Look for our displayed logo sign. Staying at a hotel? Be sure you specify the name at check out so we can meet you in the lobby.
This tour includes uphill walking at Xunantunich followed by flat trails throughout the site, and canoe paddling at Barton Creek Caves.
Private Tour, Cultural, Family Friendly, Shopping
Generally, a 15-seat Van
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.
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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