Cahal Pech

Those visiting Belize's Cayo District will certainly find plenty of interesting ways to keep themselves busy. Inland Belize can be just as dazzling as the coast, offering mountains and jungles, eco-lodges and Mayan ruins. Should you be staying in the Cayo District capital of San Ignacio, it behooves you to organize an excursion to the nearby Cahal Pech Mayan ruins. It's a bit of a walk up the hill to the site from downtown San Ignacio, but it shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes if you are in decent shape. You'll find nothing short of 34 ancient Mayan structures at Cahal Pech, and the hilltop location offers up some pretty nice views of the valley below. The name Cahal Pech is a modern name that was applied in the 1950"s. During this time, the first excavations of the site began, yet there was little more here than a pasture.

Should you arrange a trip to the Cahal Belize ruins, you'll experience what archaeologists consider to be one of the earliest Maya settlements in the country. According to research, evidence shows that the first settlers laid claim to the area around 1200 BC. It's unclear whether they came from Guatemala or were ancestors of from past regional cultivators. Continuous habitation of the Cahal Pech site probably began somewhere around 900 BC, and surely the past inhabitants appreciated the perched location of the Cahal Pech village, which overlooks the Macal River. At some 900 feet above sea level, the central acropolis of the Cahal Pech village provides what is arguably the best view at the site. To the south you'll see the rising Maya Mountains, while looking northeast will reveal the Belize River and its lush valleys.

During the glory years of Cahal Pech village, the site may have stretched over some 10 square miles. The core of the site, which is what visitors explore, consists of 34 sizeable structures, the bulk of which were constructed during the Maya Classic Period (300-800 AD). There are late pre-Classic temples here and two ball courts that lead some archaeologists to believe that at one point Cahal Pech was a palacial estate of sorts for royalty. The fine craftsmanship of some of the structures helps to support this claim. It is also believed that the Maya used the village as a ceremonial center. It's unclear why the Maya abandoned Cahal Pech village in and around 900 AD. What they left behind here continues to intrigue academics looking for all kinds of answers to their questions on Maya history. To get your own bit of insight into ancient Mayan life, you can organize a personal tour of Cahal Pech any day of the week. Tours are available at a very fair fee once you get here, and there is also a small visitor's center where for a small price you can view a model reconstruction of the site, as well as various recovered artifacts.

You can choose to stay at one of the San Ignacio hotels to enjoy visits to Cahal Pech and other Cayo District attractions. There are other top Belize Mayan sites within reach that you might consider visiting as well. Not far from Cahal Pech, the Mayan sites of Xunantunich and Chaa Creek beg a visit. Perhaps you might be interested in staying at a Cahal Pech resort. The Cahal Pech Village Resort is perched on the hillside above San Ignacio, and it's extremely close to the Cahal Pech ruins, as you might assume by the hotel's name. There are 23 cabanas at the Cahal Village Resort of the thatched-roof variety. They are really quite nice, offering A/C, a private hot and cold water shower, maid service, and extensive cable TV. There are also 14 single and double rooms available that offer the same amenities, and groups might prefer one of the 5 family suites. The Cahal Village Resort offers a variety of vacation packages and side trips that you might consider. You can even throw in a visit to Tikal in nearby Guatemala. Cave tubing nearby is fun during the wet season, and canoeing into the Barton Creek Caves is something you won't forget. Cahal Belize is certainly in good company when it comes to fellow attractions. Plan a Cahal Belize visit, and you will likely find there aren't enough hours in the day to experience all that lies within reach. Maybe you'll just have to book your Cahal Pech resort for a week longer than you originally planned!

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