Well kinda sorta almost! You see there are not many roads in Guatemala to start with and if you’re heading east out of the country there is only one road you can take, CA13 which becomes the western highway once you enter Belize. So, being very familiar with Belize and enjoying ourselves a lot while we were there, we took the western highway, and headed back to Belize. With such an extensive list of things to do, places to see and experiences we wanted to enjoy, we headed back in the direction in which we came and made our first stop in Xunantunich.
Xunantunich sits atop a hill overlooking the Mopan River and the Cayo District. You can see right back across the border into Guatemala as well as a clear view for many miles around. As major ceremonial site built on a natural limestone ridge during the Classic Period. The site is composed of six major plazas with more than 25 Maya temples and palaces.
“El Castillo” (the Castle), the largest pyramid at 130 feet above the plaza, has carved friezes on the east and west sides. The frieze on the east has been preserved and covered with a fiberglass replica of the central mask representing the sun god flanked by the moon and Venus. Xunantunich is directly across from the village of San Jose Succotz. It is easily accessible by a public hand-cranked ferry over the river. Vehicles are ferried over one at a time for the 1-mile drive/hike to a parking lot where you will find the visitors center. We had fun on the short ferry ride across the river and the attendant let one of our team members, Tammy, try her hand at cranking the ferry across.
Xunantunich is also listed as one of the most impressive ruins to visit in all of Belize and we were not disappointed. With many displays about the site, it’s history, purpose, archeology significance and discovery we enjoyed our time walking about the site.