3 to 4 hours
Altun Ha is located 31 miles north of Belize City on the Old Northern Highway. A two-mile dirt road connects the main road to the site. The area around the Altun Ha is rich in wildlife including armadillos, bats, squirrels, agouti, paca, foxes, raccoons, coati, tapir and the white-tailed deer. Two hundred species of birds have been recorded and there are large crocodiles that inhabit the Maya-made water reservoir.
Altun Ha was a wealthy ceremonial center boasting two main plazas, thirteen structures (including the Temple of Sun God or the Temple of the Masonry Altars). Altun Ha is not very far from the Caribbean Sea and it formed part of a unique cultural zone along with other coastal sites. There are also no stelae at Altun Ha but the discovery of rich tombs indicates that the ruling elite enjoyed access to substantial amounts of exotic goods.
Another interesting part of this site is the presence of a large, water reservoir called “Rockstone Pond”. The bottom of this reservoir is lined with yellow clay giving the bottom firmness capable of retaining water.
Altun Ha, named after the modern day village that was developed there (Rockstone Pond), was first recognized in 1957 by A.H. Anderson, the Archaeological Commissioner of that time. In February of that year he had followed up on a report made by the Public Works Department of some questionable mounds in the area where they were planning to push some roads. He found them to be archaeological mounds.
The earliest evidence of settlement at Altun Ha dates to 200 B.C., although it is likely that nomadic hunting-and-gathering tribes lived in the area long before then. The first major construction took place around A.D. 100 in the form of a temple near the principal reservoir, but by the beginning of the Classic Period (A.D. 250) the focus had shifted to the area which the visitor sees today. This was to be the central core of the site for some six centuries. The northern plaza (Plaza A) was the primary ceremonial precinct until close to the end of the Early Classic (around A.D. 550) when construction was begun on the Plaza B.
Altun Ha Tour:
You tour of Altun Ha starts with pickup from your accommodations, airbnb, water taxi or municipal airstrip in Belize City. From here we travel north along the Philip Goldson Highway to mile 19 where we enter the old Northern Highway better known as the maskal road for 14 miles to the village of Rock Stone Pond. The name Altun Ha, translates to the same.
On arrival at the site your you can use the bathroom while your guide pays the entrance fees. You then make your way into the visitor center where your guide will deliver your introduction to the site.
As you walk the site your guide will give you the history of the city of Altun Ha, its rise and its collapse. You can climb various temples including the famed Sun God temple where the largest carved jade object ever found in Meso-America was discovered. The Jade Head.
After your tour of Altun Ha, we make our way back out to a local Belizean Restaurant to enjoy a delicious meal of Rice and Beans cooked in coconut milk, stew chicken and cole slaw, with the chefs “Michelle” secret habanero pepper sauce. Don’t worry you put on that topping yourself.
At the end of lunch we re-board your van for the short 30 minute drive back to Belize City, where we return you to your pickup location.
Guests coming from San Pedro Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker are responsible for water taxi or local flight cost to Belize City.
This tour is also available for cruise ship guests docking in Belize City.
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We pickup from your hotel, AirBnB, Vacation Rentals or homes.
Roughly and hours drive North to the village or Rockstone Pond through small villages. On the way your guide explains the history of Old Belize, and flora and fauna of the area.
Upon arrival at the park, use bathrooms, and its off to tour. guide will provide purified bottled water to keep you hydrated on tour.
At the end of your tour we make our way back to the parking lot re-board the van and make your way to our restaurant where we have lunch. Lunch is local Belizean cuisine of Rice and Beans, stew chicken and coleslaw. From time to time local game meats are available to sample if your brave enough.
After lunch we Re-board our van for your return to Belize city and your tour of the Old Capital of Belize.