Lamanai Mayan Ruins Belize


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Lamanai Mayan Ruins Belize is one of the main Mayan sites in Belize. I never really considered Belize to be a country to hold such famed ruins. The more time I spent in the country and the more reading I did the more I realised that there is more to Belize than offshore islands and fun in the sun.

Although I didn’t equate Mayan ruins with Belize I had heard about Lamanai long ago. It was one of the sites that I really wanted to visit if I found myself anywhere in that part of the world. So it was that I arrived at the site around 9am after a short snack at the restaurants just outside the site.

Most people arrive at the site via boat after being convinced that the road was too rough to travel on. It makes a great way for tour operators to extract a little bit more money out of tourists. The road was dusty but great, I guess after rain it might be a different story.

There was a birdwatching group at the site as I entered the museum to pay my entry. How did I know they were birdwatchers? They all had binoculars around their necks, cameras with huge (re expensive lenses) and they all wore the same long pants and long sleeved shorts in either khaki, brown or tan or shades of the above. Oh look, it’s the rare Polka Dotted Nitwhit, sorry that’s a birdwatching joke!!

Lamanai Wildlife

I wandered around the site alone. Lingering as long as I cared at all of the temple sites. I took the time to notice the small things and follow my ears as they would hear rustling in the jungle.

I followed the paths of some rather vicious looking ants. I’m not sure if they are the brutally named ‘Bullet Ants’. Known for their bite that feels like a bullet hitting the victim. So I stayed away from them just to be sure. Coatimundi roamed the site. They are the Racoon looking animals that scavenge their way through the jungle undergrowth. Unlike the bird nerds, I didn’t see anything too exciting in the bird world.

Lamanai Howler Monkeys

I climbed to the top of the largest main Temple and lingered at the summit. As I sat on the summit I heard the faint sound of branches and leaves moving nearby. A large family of maybe 10 Howler Monkeys were either feeding or sleeping. All within about 10 meters of me. I almost could have jumped onto the nearby branches and joined them. Two of the Howler Monkeys had babies in tow. Crawling all over their mother or exploring the branches.

The Mask Temple Lamanai

The Mask Temple is the thing that sets the Lamanai Mayan Ruins Belize apart from other Mayan Ruins. It has two large stone carvings of set into a temple. The shape of the faces are very African in appearance. It’ s not the only ancient North American site that has such things but the only Mayan ruins (that I know). Could be influenced by the Olmecs but I’m not going to go into the ancient history of North America, even though it fascinates me.

As I finished my time at Lamanai I had a quiet conversation with one of the tour guides. I asked where all the tourists were? Why was this site not crowded? He told me that a cruise ship would be visiting the site the next day. That would bring over 1000 people to the site. I’m glad I visited the site today. But I’m also glad that people get an opportunity to visit such a site.

Now it’s time to leave Belize after my short 1 week stay and head to Mexico.

Lamanai Mayan Ruins Belize
The first main temple Lamanai Mayan Ruins
Coatimundi climbing among the ruins
Large ant
Not sure what type of Ant this is but I’m sure it would hurt if it got angry
Lamanai Mayan Ruins Belize
The ruins at Lamanai are being overgrown by the jungle
Lamanai Ball court
The Ball court at Lamanai
Lamanai main temple
The main temple at Lamanai
Lamanai Howler Monkeys
The Howler Monkeys at Lamanai were very close to the top of the main temple. I got a close look at them including this mother with it’s baby
and again. I spent about 30 minutes just watching them resting and going about their life
Nice easy walking around Lamanai Mayan Ruins Belize
The Temple of masks with very African looking heads carved into the temple
Lamanai African looking faces
The very African looking head
Green Iguana
This bright green Green Iguana sunning itself on the road near Lamanai.

Next : Goodbye Belize, Hello Mexico – Again

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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6 thoughts on “Lamanai Mayan Ruins Belize”

  1. Hi,

    I’m planning to go to Blize end of March and go to Lamanai by car, is the road easy to find?
    Is there any place on the way when I might get lost?

    • The road is easy to find, you can easily use google maps in your smart phone to get you there. It passes a lovely Mennonite Community on the way. The road is not sealed so it is either dusty or muddy depending on the weather. Good luck it is a great place to visit.


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