is the most extensive, known Maya site in Belize. Caracol was
not the Mayan name for the site. The original name is still unknown.
In its hey-days the urban area of Caracol covered approximately
over 30 square miles which is larger than Belize City today. It
comprises a complex that includes many pyramids, five plazas,
and an astronomical observatory.
main plaza is linked by causeways to a number of outer ruins.
It is estimated that 180,000 or more people lived in this area
at the city-state's peak around 700 A.D. Over 35,000 buildings
have been identified with its tallest pyramid known as Caana
(meaning "room with a view" in Mayan) reaching 139
feet which makes it Belize's tallest.
Caracol a carved ball-court marker has been found dating to
the end of the Early Classic Period. The engravings on this
ball court marker have been interpreted as claiming a military
victory over Tikal, located in today's Guatemala.
is located in Belize's Western district Cayo, about three hours
south of the town of San Ignacio in the Mountain Pine Ridge, in
the Chiquibul forest, about a 45 minute drive from the Agustine
Reserve Headquarters in the Mountain Pine Ridge. Tropical jungle,
hot and humid.
Due to its remote location very few people visit the site. Different
stages of the excavations show the process involved from the discovery
of a 'pile of stones' to the beginnings of a 'tourist attraction.'
guides are available for hire at the site. At the ruins to date
absolutely none, about 1.5 hours drive to the nearest Lodges,
over two hours to the closest settlement. Plans are under way
to develop the site to become 'the biggest around . . . even bigger
can only be reached by private car or with an organized tour through
a tour operator from San Ignacio or through any of the 'jungle
lodges' in the area.
The road to Caracol offers a gerat scenery, from plantations to
Pine trees with abrupt changes to tropical jungle. In the wider
area, horseback riding, river trips and extensive caving.
San Ignacio offers a great variety of accommodations, recommended
Martha's Guesthouse or for bigger pockets, only one hour from
the ruins, Francis Ford Coppola's 'Blancaneaux Lodge.'