The ancient cultures have always fascinated me. It doesn’t matter in what part of the world, it has always perplexed me how they achieved such amazing things in such a primitive time. No part of the world is more renowned for ancient civilizations than the Americas. From the Incas to the Aztecs to the Mayans, it just keeps getting more and more interesting. Today I toured two of the archaeological sites in Southern Belize and was reminded of why it’s such a cool thing to see in person. However, the best thing about seeing the ancient Mayan ruins in Southern Belize is that there aren’t any other tourists.
After a lengthy delay in Livingston, Guatemala this morning for an unforeseen and seemingly inexplicable 3.5 hour delay, we arrived back to Belize through Punta Gorda.
Punta Gorda is the southernmost town of any size in Belize. Most travelers, if they go there at all, go there to catch a boat to Guatemala. We had the chance to look around for a bit and I must say there isn’t much to keep the visitor for long but according to my boat captain the nightlife is pretty good. Take that as you will, as we did, and then we made our way northwest up to Dump, yes Dump. From the aptly named Dump, we caught a dirt road out to Lubaantun.
Lubaantun is an ancient Mayan archaeological site that apparently flourished between AD 730 and 860. It is built on a natural hilltop and displays a construction method unusual in the ancient Mayan world of mortar-less neatly cut black slate. Typically they used limestone.
The site contains seven plazas, three ball courts and surrounding structures. It is a pretty big site but the main temples and pyramids have crumbled. They resemble large piles of rocks. However, there are still some signs of their former size and greatness. It is certainly fun to stroll around in the scorching sun and imagine the beheadings and such that took place over a millennium ago.
The best thing about Lubaantun is that there aren’t many tourists at all; we didn’t see any. You literally have an ancient Mayan site all to yourself. The men working the little welcome house are very polite and will answer any of your questions about the site and any other Mayan site in Belize. They sell brochures to each for B$2.
After rattling your way through the small towns and dirt roads back to the Southern Highway, we hopped off to visit Nim Li Punit which is only about 8 miles away once you’ve reached the highway and head north.
Nim Li Punit is a relatively small Mayan site in Belize and isn’t nearly as spectacular as Lubaantun or certainly the sites in the north of the country. However, it has some cool subtle qualities including the Plaza of the Royal Tombs; which has some interesting excavated tombs. The articles that were found are actually on display in a small museum at the welcome house.
Aside from that, it’s a pleasant site to walk around, again with nobody else there, and imagine what it must have been like around AD 250-1000. We didn’t spend a ton of time there because it only takes a few minutes to walk around the whole site but my friend Pete did manage to buy a wooden Mayan flute. Why you ask? Who knows?! That of course is on top of a random small pumpkin he bought at a store we stopped to get water earlier!
I am now relaxing up in Placencia where I will be staying for the next few days and can’t wait to enjoy the beach, pool and get some sun.
Mayan Ruins in Southern Belize
March 23, 2012 by 11 Comments