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.
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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.