The smell of rain drifts through the atmosphere with a tinge of calcium carbonate mixed with moss. You close your eyes and you can sense the concert of an establishment where at the very top, the CEO, the living god King commands the rain, the sunlight, the time, and who lives and who dies. You are in the center of the B Plaza at the site of Caracol, the largest and ancient Maya City in Belize.
With causeways spanning over ten kilometers long; with the most tombs ever found within the Maya area; with a commanding history of violence and optimum development by the middle of the 16th century, the city of Caracol sits in the Southwest of the country within the Rainforest of the Maya Mountains. It stands as a witness of the large population that lived there. Estimates take the population past 150,000 people.
To get there, our trip needs to leave San Ignacio by 7:30AM and the drive is fifty miles through the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve where we will meet a convoy of other happy adventurers that will be filled with anxious excitement like you. As the convoy starts rolling, we will enter the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, Belize’s largest protected area of broad leaf forest on a dirt road, except for the last twelve miles where the road turns into asphalt – not built by the ancient Maya.
The archaeological tour truly starts by 10:30AM and it goes through a maze of rainforest and in pockets of open forests, small buildings, medium size buildings and truly enormous man-made architecture will command attention and leave everyone in awe when they realize that there were no beasts of burden and no metals with which these people built their entire cities.
The tours concludes a little after 1:00PM when we walk to the visitor center where a true tropical picnic will be served up to return some of the energy expended in walking and climbing the very same pathways that kings walked.
We leave via convoy at 2:00PM.
Once we get back to the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, we take a side trip to the Rio Frio Cave – a huge hole in a mountain with a lovely sometimes slow moving, sometimes rushing river, which was responsible for the ‘hole in the mountain’. This is a great opportunity to learn about cave geology and ecology. It’s also a great photo opportunity to add to your ‘Caracol file’.
Then, as a wrap up, we drive to the Rio On pools to cool down and relax in the swim holes after a long day of travel, climbing, hiking and reliving the history of the ancient Maya of Caracol.
We return to San Ignacio around 5:30PM, in time to grab a cold beer before dinner.