When I found out we were going to Belize, I knew that the one thing I wanted to see the ancient Mayan ruins of Lamanai. For this trip we were coming in on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas so our time in Belize was pretty limited. The day before arriving in Belize we were in Cozumel being lazy on a beach at Mr Sanchos …so we were ready for so adventure!
Ok, so here is where the planning got real…Belize requires a tender boat to get from cruise ship to the shore, then about an hour and a half bus ride from the cruise terminal to the River Safari boat launch, then about and hour and a half boat ride until you finally reach Lamanai. Then you do it all in reverse, but the return boat trip is not quite as long. Seeing that we were coming in on a cruise ship and were planning to head deep into the country, we decided it was probably best to book this directly thru Royal Caribbean to eliminate being left if there was any kind of delay!
The bus ride thru the city and the countryside outside of Belize city was pretty miserable. It was a very old charter bus (sorry no working restroom on board) and the AC was out as well…well mostly anyway. The tour guides did have a lot of information about Belize, the culture, the people and anything else you could want to know about the country. The roads are also pretty bumpy along the way so be prepared.
The New River Safari boat launch is actually a pretty nice little place. There is a large building (with bathrooms!) with a gift shop, seating area for lunch later in the day, lots of pretty landscaping and a nice view of the New River. After a few minutes, you are put onto a boat with all the people you were just on the bus with. It is a pretty large boat holding probably about 20-30 people. During the long boat ride, you will get to see lots of animals along the way…we saw a monkey, an iguana and a few different types of birds!
Arriving at Lamanai you are taken to a small “village” kind of area with more gift shops and a restroom. After a short break, your group will reassemble and start the walking tour thru the ruins. The guide that has been with you all day will tell you all about the history of the ruins. The pathways thru Lamanai are pretty easy to navigate for the most part but it may be difficult for some people with mobility issues. All in all, we saw three temple ruins and were able to “climb” the tallest of the three. By climb I mean we took stairs most of the way up but were able to physically climb the last 15-20 stairs to the peak. Either way fantastic climb and view from the top of the world! In the picture below it was only the darker steps up at the very top that we were actually able to climb.
Our tour of the ruins ended with the sound of thunder. Walking down the pier back to the jungle boat the sky had darkened and you could hear the small storm trying to move it. The return boat ride is much quicker and with the rain pouring down I was very happy about that!! The storm moved on pretty quickly and we arrived back at the original boat launch in time for a small lunch. It was pretty tasty chicken with rice. They also have a bar with drinks available for purchase. Unfortunately, the bus ride back to Belize City felt like an eternity…still no air conditioning (and after being on a boat, walking thru the jungle, climbing a temple, getting caught in a rainstorm) we all felt pretty gross!
Overall the trip was an amazing experience. It isn’t too often that you really get to experience something like this and see the history of a civilization. I look forward to visiting more temple ruins to learn more!
- Bring bug spray. Otherwise, you will be eaten alive!
- Bring sunscreen! You are going to be on a boat for a while…do you wanna be get burned and be miserable for the next few days?
- Climb the temple! The view is incredible and your friends will be jealous.
- Water, water, water. Yes it is the jungle and not the desert, but you are going to sweat…ALOT and you will feel better if you don’t become dehydrated!
Like This Post? PIN IT!