Nestled within the lush jungles of Belize’s Cayo District, the ruins of Caracol remain a testament to the grandeur of the ancient Mayan civilization. Once a thriving city-state, today Caracol offers visitors a chance to step back in time and uncover the secrets of this mighty civilization. Our tour to Caracol takes you through the intriguing history, unique architecture, and cultural significance of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Caracol, or “Snail” in Spanish, was named for its abundance of snail shells found by explorers, but its original Mayan name was “Oxwitza,” which translates to “Sky Place.” From its inception around 1200 BC, Caracol flourished into a powerful city-state. At its peak in 650 AD, Caracol housed up to 150,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest ancient Mayan cities, surpassing even modern day Belize City’s population.
The city’s influence extended far beyond its borders, engaging in political alliances, trade, and warfare with neighboring city-states. Caracol is notably recognized for its victory over Tikal, another significant Mayan city, in 562 AD. This victory marked a shift in power dynamics in the region and boosted Caracol’s political and economic influence.
The architecture of Caracol is as captivating as its history. The site spans over 30 square miles, featuring five plazas an astronomical observatory and over 35,000 buildings. Among these the most notable is “Caana,” or “Sky Palace” the tallest man-made structure in all of Belize. Standing at 43 meters (141 feet) Caana houses four palaces and three temples offering a stunning view of the surrounding jungle and other structures from its summit.
Other fascinating structures include the Ball Court where Mayans would participate in the ceremonial ball game of Pok-a-Tok and the residential complex named “Puchituk Terminus” which demonstrates the intricate urban planning of the ancient Mayans.
Caracol played a significant role in the socio-cultural and spiritual life of the Mayan civilization. The observatory mirrors the Mayans’ sophisticated understanding of astronomy and time integral to their agricultural planning and religious rituals. Countless carved stelae found across the site shed light on the city’s political history and beliefs. The hieroglyphic inscriptions on these monuments narrate events from royal ascensions to important battles.
The site also offers evidence of sophisticated agricultural practices, including terracing and road networks, demonstrating the Mayans’ advanced understanding of their environment and resource management.
Total tour time of our Caracol Belize tour from Belize city with transportation to the site, tour, lunch and return is approximately 10 hours. We depart Belize City at 6am.
What is included in your tour of Caracol Belize
Transfer to and from Belize city to Caracol
All entrance fees
Guided tour of Caracol