Cahal Pech Maya Temple
Description: Cahal Pech is located just south of San Ignacio Town, on a hill just off the Macal River’s Wester bank, in the Cayo District. It is the oldest-know Mayan site in the Belize River Valley. It is believed to have been occupied sometime around 1,200 B.C. and abandoned sometime around 800 to 1,000 AD.
The site sits about 900 feet above the valley floor, making it easy to spot approaching enemies. It once boasted of about 10,000 to 20,000 people (the largest city of its time in Belize), who simply disappeared when Cahal Pech was abandoned in 850 AD. It’s a spectacular example of the “Pre-classic” architecture, some of which has survived thousands of years. Archaeologists believe this community was once (10) square miles in size, but the concentration of structures open to visitors is only about (2) square miles, so it’s an easy place to navigate. There’s much to see here: 34 structures include a mix of workplaces, homes, temples, palaces, ball courts and stelae, one of which is the oldest in the region.
The site is particularly important for the information it has provided on the earliest Maya settlers of western Belize. Early cultural remains (for example), suggest that the site’s first inhabitants were relatively sophisticated. They built large circular plat-forms that were used for ceremonial purposes, they carved many Mesoamerican or Olmec-like symbols on their pottery, imported jade from Guatemala, molded many figurines in the form of female individuals, and produced decorative beads that were made from conch shells brought from the Caribbean coast.
Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins
Your journey takes you to the Belize mainland where you will visit the Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins. This tour is typically coupled with another half day tour, making this mainland activity a full-day tour.
Take the Western highway for approximately 70 miles (a little over a one hour drive), until you reach Santa Elena town. Take the road that leads to the San Ignacio Hotel, until you reach a “Y” intersection with a stadium on the left. At this point you should see the sign for Cahal Pech Village Resort and Cahal Pech Maya ruins. Proceed up the road, Cahal Pech Archaeological Reserve is on your left.
Cahal Pech is located on an imposing hill that overlooks the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. The name of the site means “Place of Ticks” in the Yucatecan Maya language. This name was coined in the 1950’s when the area around the site was used for pasture.
Maya Ruin at Cahal Pech near San Ignacio BelizeResearch in 1988 found ten mounds. Excavations show that Cahal Pech was inhabited from 1000 B.C. to around 800 A.D. The central part of the ruins provides a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding area. Thirty- four structures, including temple pyramids, two ball courts, an alter and five plain stelae fill the 2 acre area.