Departure: Anytime from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Drive time: 20 minutes
Xunantunich: "shoo-nahn-too-nitch" or "shah-nahn-tuhn-itch", depending on your accent. Even if you can't pronounce it, the 'X-ruin' is a great site to visit. There is a nice museum, temples to climb with panoramic views of the surrounding area. It's all a ruin should be with the added convenience of being 20 minutes away. You also get to ride over to it on a hand-cranked ferry, the birding is superb and there are stands set up where you can buy slate carvings and other local crafts.
Located one mile north of the border town of Benque Viejo, and across
the green crystalline waters of the
Mopan River, lies the largest ceremonial center in the Belize River Valley. The ruins of Xunantunich are situated on a natural limestone ridge approximately eight miles west of San Ignacio Town at Succotz village in the Cayo District. A hand-cranked, mechanical ferry is used to carry visitors across the Mopan River, which is located about a mile from the site.
Xunantunich is a Classic Period ceremonial centre. Restricted in space, it occupies only 300 sq. metres (325 sq. yards) with elite, middle- and working-class residential structures stretching a few kilometers into the surroundings.
The site consists of three ceremonial plazas enclosed by house mounds, pyramids and palaces, the largest decorated with friezes and masks of the Classic period. Xunantunich is believed to have been the longest established Mayan archaeological site in Belize.
The most prominent structure is the
pyramid "El Castillo" (The
Castle) which rises 130 feet above
"El Castillo", which has been partially excavated and explored, was the tallest man-made structure in all of Belize until the discovery of "Canaa" at Caracol. The most notable feature on "El Castillo" is a remarkable stucco frieze on the east side of the structure. Three carved stelae found at the site are on display in the plaza. The name is Maya for "stone lady" and is derived from local legend.
General Tour Information
Light-weight, comfortable clothing and shoes with a good grip. Long trousers are more suitable than shorts as they give more protection from insects and weather. Hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and drinking water are advisable.
A popular option for visiting Xunantunich from duPlooy's is to arrive on horseback.
* See Tours & Transfers for current rates and more tour options.