Xunantunich

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Xunantunich, Belize

Xunantunich Reviews

julietravelswell julietra…
4 reviews
Fun trek up the steps with a great view Jun 12, 2016
This was worth seeing. It will only take a few hours especially if you take a cab across the ferry and up the hill. The hike up the hill was killer in the May heat. I should have taken a cab up the hill but my cab driver was really creepy. He was either trying to sell me someone or try to sell me to someone. Then he found out I was 38 and said "Oh, you're getting old." This was simultaniously the best and worst thing. The best because I'm too old to be sold into prostitution. And the worst because there are people out there that have no problems doing this. So threw the cab driver my money and ran and jumped on the moving ferry.

The ferry is hand cranked and can fit about 2 cars. There was a lot of people on it when I went. I thing it was a school group. when we got to the other side (about a minute later), I started hiking it up the hill. Oh my, it was steep hot and humid. Before I even got to the entrance I was sweating through my clothes. Bring water and plenty of it. The giftshop that sold water was not open yet when I got there.

Paid to get in and started walking around. I guess I was pretty early because there wasn't barely anyone there. I did run into 3 people from Texas and their tour guide they let me tag along with them. I was so grateful for that especially after the creepy cab ride.

The site is well manicured. There are a few structures you can climb up to get a better look at the other structures. There is a ball court as well. Most of the ruins are in full sun. There are a few spots for you to stop and get in the shade if you need. One of them had and armed guard. I assume to protect the ruins. If you climb up the highest structure you can see all the way into Guatamala. The steps up this structure seem pretty bad at first, because the first set the rise is pretty steep. But after that you wind around the structure and the steps are not as steep. You get a closer view of some of the friezes.

The ledges and stairs can be rather narrow in places. I'm really glad I got to the top and backdown before the school groups started up. I would have been afraid a kid would have knocked me off the side accidentally. When you get to the top there is a pretty strong breeze but there are things on the top you can stand between and not so close to the edge.

Beautiful views worth the climb.
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dedch dedch
17 reviews
Beautiful Mayan ruin site, Xunantunich May 24, 2010
The site is located about half an hours drive away from San Ignacio. If you take a taxi, it will cost you around 30US, and the driver will wait for you to return.

The entrance to the site sets you back 5 US$ which is well worth it.

You can either hire a guide, or just have a look around on your own.

The site has one main temple and several other buildings nearby.

You can actually climb up the main temple and up there you will have a fantastic view of Belize and Guatemala as it is only a few miles away from the boarder.

When I went, it was low season, so I had the whole site to myself. This is a very relaxing site, not as busy with tourists and peddlers as Chitchen Itza in Mexico for example.

The trip will only take you around 3 hours as the site is rather compact. There is also a small visitors center where you can see a scale model of the site and some facts about the excavations, as well as some of the relief stones that where found on the site.

The main Temple features two very nice friezes, which they rebuild out of plaster, after reburying the original to protect it from the environment.
One of the two friezes on the main…
The main Temple building from below
The beautiful view from atop the m…
The small hand cranked ferry takin…
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geokid geokid
146 reviews
Xunantunich Oct 02, 2009
Xunantunich "Maiden of the Rock" a Classic period (300 AD - 900 AD) Maya ceremonial center located in the Cayo District of western Belize on the west side of the Mopan River across from San Jose Succotz. At the completion of the road and ferry (ferry hours 7:00AM to 5:00PM) in 1954, this was the first Belize site to be opened to the public. There is a plaza surrounded with pyramidal platforms. "El Castillo" is the tallest at 130 feet. This is large by Maya standards and is only exceeded by the Caana pyramid at Caracol. Xunantunich was occupied until about 900 AD and was likely abandoned after an earthquake. Evidence of an earthquake was documented by archaeologists in the 1990's. Everyone should climb to the top of "El Castillo." You will be provided with a 360 degree view of the jungle canopy of the Macal, Mopan and Belize River valleys. You will also have the opportunity to view the restored portions of two stucco friezes of the east and west sides of the upper portion of the pyramid.

Xunantunich was first investigated in the late 1800's by a British medical officer named Thomas Gann. The first known photographs of the site were taken in 1904 and displayed in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. No further investigations took place until Gann returned in 1924. The report of these activities have been lost. Continuous excavation and restoration has been taking place since 1990 by the University of California (UCLA) under the direction of Dr. Richard Leventhal. There is now a new visitor's center which displays a model of the site, photos, maps and numerous exhibits of the city.
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Chokk says:
Thanks for sharing
Posted on: Aug 05, 2010
PleaseDontBePsycho PleaseDo…
41 reviews
Jan 07, 2008
Xunantunich (pronounced: shoo-nan-too-nitch) is an ancient Mayan ruin of a 10,000 person settlement, used around 600-800 AD. It means "Stone Woman" or "Maiden of the Stone" as Mayan folklore of the area spoke of an enigmatic, mysterious figure that wandered around the top layers of the major temple at night. Convenient location - especially if you are staying in Cayo region. Impressive site and good information centres, but a guide will give a better idea of how the site worked. A little, hand-powered car ferry is used to cross a river to get to the road that leads to the site. But don't get too pumped up for adventure: the river is only 2 car lengths long and there is a man who operates it for you. $5 USD/ $10 BZ to enter the park. Arranging transport/ a guide will cost extra. You can do the entire site in about an hour so it's good as a pit stop. Be warned: it will take way longer if there are lots of cars waiting to cross the river, as the ferry can only take one car at a time. My advice: go early and avoid the tourist traffic.

If you've done Tikal, and have reached your ruin-viewing saturation point, you could skip this. If you don't have the time to go across the border to Tikal, then I'd recommend going here to get an idea of what you'd see, in a condensed, miniaturized audit.
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Andy99 Andy99
579 reviews
The ancient Mayan city of Xunantunich Aug 24, 2006
The Xunantunich archaeological site in western Belize was a Mayan city of the Classic period, flourishing around 300-900 AD. It was probably abandoned about 950-1000 AD. It was not a large city, and is believed to have had a population of 7,000-10,000 people.

The site remained undiscovered until the end of the 19th century and was not excavated until the 1920s. Further archaeological work began in the 1990s and continues today. (There are still unexcavated structures at the site.)

The site has the typical Mayan structures of a a large central pyramid (El Castillo), a ball court, and ceremonial platforms. It is definitely worth visiting even if you have seen major Mayan sites like Tikal and Chichen Itza. If you have not yet seen them, Xunantunich is a must when you are in Belize. You can climb the 130 foot (40 m) main pyramid on the original narrow steps much the same way the Mayans did.

An impressive bas relief runs along the side of El Castillo. At the top, one has a view of the surrounding countryside into Guatemala. A number of Mayan stele found at Xunantunich are on display at the Visitor Center.

Admission is $10.

Please see my Xunantunich blog entry for more photos of the site and its structures and surrounding area.

Cruise ships calling at Belize offer all-day tours to Xunantunich. Tours to the site are also available from resorts in Belize.
El Castillo, the principal structu…
Bas relief on EL Castillo
Xunantunich site from El Castillo
Interior chamber of EL Castillo
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