When we decided to go to Belize, we opted (like many who visit) to spend a few days inland and a few days on the beach. We ended up spending one less day inland than planned when we purchased our tickets/made hotel reservations, thanks to United’s splendid flight schedule changes from DCA which meant we arrived at 7pm instead of 11am. Ugh.
We really only had one particular goal, and that was to see Caracol. I’m a huge fan of ruins, and Caracol’s were definitely worth the diversion from the wonderful marine life on the coast. We stayed at Hidden Valley, an adorable lodge set on a beautiful reserve with lots of waterfalls and trails. We requested a trip to Caracol, with a guide from Hidden Valley. You can self-drive, but that seemed too stressful for a vacation, and DH and I wisely didn’t want to argue over directions when we were lost on dirt roads without signs. Some years ago there were problems (robberies, etc) on the road to Caracol, which means that each day, there is a military escort by the Belize Defence Forces which meets all visitors going at a specified point and time, and escorts them to Caracol and back (note: private cars are free to meet at the aforementioned point and go with the rest of the vehicles).
Despite the fact that it was January, it was drizzling the entire time we were there which even the locals thought was a bit odd. And it was muddy. The drizzle gave it sort of an appropriate feel, really. Caracol is probably the most popular Mayan site in Belize, and it is enormous. The urban buildings have radius of approximately 6 miles, and this area is thought to contain at least 30,000 buildings. My guide book says Caracol only gets about 12,000 visitors a year–we went during a pretty busy season and there are 15 people there, tops. Definitely not “busy” to us, but we are certainly not complaining.
The University of Central Florida is continuing excavations in the area for a few months each year, and we saw them when we were there just starting to set up.
Caracol was definitely impressive. There are more ruins on Ambergris Caye which we did not see, since we were too busy snorkeling. If we go back to Belize, I’d definitely check those out as well. I’d also make a trip over to Tikal, in Guatemala.
Have you been to Tikal? How does it compare? How was your experience at Caracol?