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Travel: Caracol Archaeological Reserve, Belize

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

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IMG_7693, "Caana" or Sky Palace (Group B), Caracol Archaeological Reserve, Caracol, Belize
IMG_7693, originally uploaded by [ecpark].
Our first major excursion in the Cayo District of Belize was to Caracol, which is the largest known Mayan site in Belize. The reserve contains the largest building in Belize (the 2,000 year old “Sky Palace”) and dozens upon dozens of excavated ruins from the Mayan Classic period.

One monument here records a military victory over the army of Tikal — a larger Mayan city across the border in Guatemala — in 562CE, where Caracol’s Lord Water is shown to have captured and sacrificed Tikal’s Double Bird.

Part of the excitement was having AK-47 toting members of the Belize Defence Forces escort us from the Mountain Pine Ridge ranger station to the ruins. Apparently, about two years ago, a group of Guatemalan bandits (angry about the aforementioned defeat of Tikal, I’m sure…) crossed the border and held up a couple of tour buses. While the bandits were caught long ago (and presumably taken out back and shot) the Belizean authorities aren’t taking any chances with their tourist revenue.

The ruins themselves were just amazing, and we were two of 30 people in the park that day, so had the place largely to ourselves. Simply amazing.