Welcome to the lost city! A place of wonder, mystery and Ancient History. Caracol, meaning “snail, shell’ in Spanish, sits in the heart of the Chiquibul rainforest in Western Belize. Approximately 25 miles from San Ignacio, this well-preserved maya site sits on top of the Vaca Plateau under a subtropical Rainforest canopy. It is known to be one of the largest maya cities besides its towering neighbor, Tikal, located just across the border in Guatemala. The most famous structure dominating the center of this ancient community is the massive building known as Caana, meaning “Sky Place.” This immense complex of rooms and tombs remains the tallest man-made construction in Belize.
Caracol (formerly known as “Oxhuitza”, place of three hills) was one of the most important regional political centers of the Maya Lowlands during the Classic Period. The area was occupied from 1200 BC to AD 950, with a population of over 120,000. It covered approximately 77sq.miles, which is larger than Belize City, the largest metropolitan area in Belize. The first reported sighting of Caracol was in 1937 by a native logger Rosa Mai who was searching for Mahogany trees. It was then reported to the archaeological commissioner A.H Anderson who gave the site its modern name. Since then, many excavations, investigations and modern developments have been made.
The Caracol Ruins contains 53 carved stone monuments (25 stelae and 28 altars), and more than 200 burials and caches. Stelaes and altars were considered a trademark of the Classic Maya Civilization. These tall stone monuments are sculpted with figures and hieroglyphs text telling stories of great kings and their accomplishments.
Caracol was conveniently situated between Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea, providing extensive trade networks and early lowland belief systems which made it a unified regional economy. Over 35 miles of white stone roads have been found leading out from Caracol ruins. The Mayas used several means of exchange in trading. The barter system was used for large items, cacao beans were used for everyday exchange in Postclassic times; and gold, jade and copper were used for expensive purchases.
Evidence shows that the last recorded date at Caracol was A.D 859. Although other monuments have recordings of the Terminal Classic Period, Structure A6 contains the markings of final abandonment in AD 1050.
Are you ready to go back more than 2000 years in time? Your adventure begins at the visitors center where you will see a few artifacts and a recovered ceremonial altar, then it’s off to the ruins. Your tour guide will give you a full history of the monuments, plazas, ballcourts, temples and other small structures that were found.
Join us and we travel deep into the green dense Chiquibul Rainforest. Our tour departs from San Ignacio with a 3 hour drive off the Western Highway. This early morning tour gives you a chance to enjoy the freshness of the forest, and even get a chance to see some wildlife in the area. The tour usually leads up to lunch time, in which case you can choose to picnic at the visitors center ( which has picnic tables and restrooms); or you can picnic and cool off at the nearby Rio On Pools, Black Rock Falls, or Rio Frio Cave - which has the largest cave entrance in Belize.
Caracol is waiting to be explored. “Come on, Vamonos!” says Dora La Exploradora, as Belize awaits you.
Private transportation in AC Vehicle from your hotel.
Licensed Tour Guide
Entrance Fees to Park
Things to bring Along: