Yesterday we blogged about The Inn at Chaa Creek, our favorite lodge in western Belize. If you are staying in the Cayo region, you won’t want to miss a visit to Cahal Pech. It’s very easy to get to, it is just a 20-minute walk from downtown San Ignacio, and overlooks the town. This small Mayan complex has undergone extensive restoration. Cahal Pech was the royal acropolis-palace of an elite Mayan ruling family who lived here during the Classic period. It was settled around 1000 BC and abandoned by 800 AD.
The site consists of seven plazas and over 30 structures including temples, residences, ballcourts, and an altar, all situated on just 2 acres. A royal burial chamber was found in one of the structures. Inside the tomb a ruler had been laid to rest with the accoutrements necessary for the afterlife. Included in the find were shell and bone ornaments, pottery vessels, obsidian blades, and jade objects, the most impressive being a jade and shell mosaic mask. One of the temples that you can climb in this small complex commands an unsurpassed view of the surrounding Belize River Valley. The visitor center and museum has a model of the site, excellent paintings showing Cahal Pech in its heyday, and an interpretive film.
Because it is a small site, you don’t have to take a whole day, or even a whole half-day here. Just fit in a walk up to Cahal Pech when you have a couple of extra hours. You don’t need to pay for a tour, just go check it out (there is an entrance fee however). Hire a guide at the larger ruins like Xunantunich, Caracol, or Tikal in nearby Guatemala.