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Altun Ha

Altun Ha, the Mayan Treasury
Just 45-minutes north of Belize City, Altun Ha is a complex of Mayan ruins dating back hundreds of years. Once the "treasury" for the Mayan people, Altun Ha is one of the most important Mayan sites in the country. Go on a tour of the place with Foolish Dreamzzz, a locally owned operator that will take your group at any size (and the price per person doesn't change, whether you're in a group of one or ten). Ask for Kendis Ferguson, the owner and a former history and social studies teacher. He and his company go above and beyond to make sure guests have all their questions answered, and he'll even make sure you get to climb to the top of the ruins—something not a lot of tour guides in the area make the time to do. The views from there, of course, are amazing.
Altun Ha

One of the main territories of the ancient Maya, Belize is home to a vast number of well-preserved archaeological ruins. Several can easily be reached from Belize City, including Altun Ha, about an hour's drive north. First settled around 250 B.C.E., this city was an important trading and ceremonial center and is home to several large temples and tombs. It's also where the Jade Head of Belize (Kinich Ahau) was discovered during excavations in the 1960s; the head can be seen on most of the country's banknotes. Xunantunich is another important Mayan site, located about 123 kilometers (76 miles) west of Belize City in the Cayo District. The El Castillo pyramid stands around 40 meters (130 feet) high, and a climb to the top rewards you with panoramic views of the jungle, the ruins and neighboring Guatemala. And Lamanai, another Mayan city, is set deep in the jungle in the north of Belize and known for its High, Mask and Jaguar temples.

Altun Ha Rock Stone Pond  Belize

Altun Ha
Many people go to Belize and head straight for the islands and who could blame them? But just north of the international airport is the Classic Maya site named Altun Ha. Altun Ha is a small site, but has been wonderfully restored. The site provides sunseekers and divers an easy opportunity to mix in some culture, before heading off to the sea.
Altun Ha Rock Stone Pond  Belize

Jungle Ruins at Altun Ha, Belize
When I was a younger fellow, I often mused about the "shores of Belize, " mostly because those three simple words sounded all at once exotic and beautiful and host to unknown wonders and delight. All I knew then was that Belize was located somewhere in Central America and was probably warm, sunny, and tropical, but that's about it. When I got a little bit older, I decided to find out what Belize really was, and in 2006, I went for the first time. The photo here is of the ruins in the ancient site of Altun Ha on the mainland in Belize. Known for salt, Altun Ha is surrounded by lush green jungle and is home to many stone monuments, grassy overgrowth, and numerous tarantula dens. Our guide was able to coax a tarantula out of the ground with a bit of grass, and after that, he told us he wouldn't stand too close to the jungle's edge because it was entirely possible a jaguar might leap out and drag us in, never to be seen again. My then-fiancé (later wife) was horrified, but in that fear I saw wonder, and it echoed my own love affair with both her and Belize. The reefs here are gorgeous, but the land is even more so, and it is host to many strange and wonderful indigenous birds and species of animals you won't find anywhere else. Belize's economy may be built on tourism, but the country is naturally in tune with that: go here for the wonders, don't stray too close to the jungle's edge, and make sure to visit the cayes. It is everything I dreamed it would be, and more.
Jungle Ruins at Altun Ha, Belize Rock Stone Pond  Belize

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