Visiting the Mayan ruins of Caracol in western Belize has been one of my favourite experiences so far in Central America. Our day started at 7am in San Ignacio in front of the PACZ tour office on Burns Avenue. My sister arrived the afternoon before and it was so nice to see her smiling face again. Everyone meet my little sister Rachelle!
Back to the ruins -- 14 of us piled into a van with our knowledgeable guide Bruce to begin our bumpy two and a half hour journey into the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. "It's going to get worse before it gets better!" Bruce warned. "Only the last 10 km before Caracol is paved road." He was an excellent driver though and navigated our van through muddy terrain that others weren't able to pass through. "Good thing we didn't rent a car," I muttered to Rachelle since that was our original plan.
I'm not going to bore you with the details of Caracol's historical significance since you'd probably just skim it anyway, but there were two main points that I took away.
One, Caracol is the largest Mayan site in all of Belize and its peak defeated its rival Tikal (currently in Guatemala). Two, the site is theorized to have been abandoned due to over farming of the land. The Mayans cleared out and exploited the forest to the point where it could no longer support their massive population of 150, 000 people.
Here are some photos from our day...