Lamanai is a Mayan site that was populated by natives between 2500 BC and 1800 AD. It is the longest pre-classic site recorded and its longevity can be attributed to its privileged location (by a river), which allowed it to outlast the many other sites that Belize has to offer, and which eventually declined because of malnutrition, droughts, etc.
Since Lamanai is on the main land, the trip to get there from Ambergris Caye is a long one, so the best way to enjoy this day-long excursion is to enjoy the journey as much as the visit of the ruins. The boat picks you up at 7am and it takes about one hour to reach the main land. You enter a river bordered by lush mangroves and the guide will most likely slow down to give you a chance to spot birds, bats and maybe crocodiles if you are lucky and if the waters are not too warm for them yet (which unfortunately is the case in May, so plan to go to Belize a few months earlier if you want to see crocodiles). Picture Above – Lamanai Maya Ruins in Belize.
You travel on the river for about six miles and reach a remote village that doesn’t have running water nor electricity (they do have gift shops, of course). A bus is waiting for you there and it’s another hour on the unpaved roads of the Belizean back country until you reach another boat, which will cover the final leg of your trip to the ruins (approximately ninety minutes).
Lamanai features the tallest temple of all pre-classic sites: 100 feet (which, added to the 150 feet above the water the site is already at, gives you a breathtaking view of your surroundings if you can make it to the top). The climb is pretty steep, but it’s worth the work out.
The Belize Jungle
Be aware that the temperature in the jungle will be a few degrees higher than what you experience in Ambergris Caye, and the moisture is guaranteed to make you sweat profusely during the tour. Make sure you stay hydrated and be ready for murderous onslaughts of mosquitoes, which will eat you alive unless you have come prepared.
Tarantulas are also very common in the jungle and if your guide is experimented, he will easily nudge one out of its hiding for a quick snapshot (this is not for the faint of heart since your average tarantula spans six to eight inches, but they are absolutely harmless to humans and quite gorgeous animals).
Some prices – use as a rough guide:
Single diving tank – $45. Second and third diving tank – $40. Night dive – $45. Blue Hole – $180. Snorkeling – $30. Rental gear – $8. a piece (regulator, BC, wet suit, light etc.) Internet – $5. an hour. Golf carts – $60. and up per day – I recommend gasoline powered over battery powered carts. A golf cart tour is a good way to kill a few hours if you don’t have anything better to do, but be aware that the unique road on the northern part of the island is very bumpy and, unfortunately, does not offer much to see. Exploring the southside is more interesting. Hotels downtown will cost you about $100. a night – but the prices drop dramatically if you get a dive package, so make sure you get one.