Horseback riding at the Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich, Belize

As I approached the horse stable, the first thing that came to my attention was the majestic Mayan ruins of Xunantunich as they overlooked me from above. “Be prepared for the journey of a lifetime”, my British guide said. Little I knew back then that the road less traveled is often the most dangerous one.

The Mayan ruins of Xunantunich are the highlight of the Cayo region of Belize and are easily reachable from the town of San Ignacio (or as a vary long day trip from Belize’s Caribbean side). Once you’re at San Ignacio, you can either take a taxi or a horse to the ferry crossing before reaching the Mayan ruins.

I guess you can already guess which option I chose.

Xunantunich Horseback riding

Xunantunich Horseback riding

Horseback tour to Xunantunich

You can either book your horse ride via your hotel/hostel or do so directly at the stables found a few minutes away from San Ignacio. The price is almost the same (70 USD) but you can use your bargaining skills to get a killer deal during low season. Tours often start early in the morning and during mid-day.

It takes about one hour to go up and one to go down the way to the ruins, leaving you with two good hours to explore the ruins themselves. This is extremely handy since, even though the ruins are small, sometimes a heavy rain can loom over Xunantunich so it is good to have some extra time to wait for the perfect weather to arrive.

Horseback riding to Xunantunich

Me and Justice ready to climb all the way to the ruins! (They are the grey small building to the left of my head)

You don’t really need any previous horse riding experience to this tour since the hill up to the ruins is not that steep since it got renovated due to the visit of Queen Elizabeth II a few decades ago. You will be surprised to learn that instead of crossing the river by horse, you are forced to use the official one minute ferry ride in order to prevent any accidents.

Yes, you heard that right: A one minute ferry ride! I cannot help but feel sorry for the mental stability of the workers involved! It takes them about 10 minutes to arrange the cars and the horses and only one minute for the actual crossing.

The ferry crossing to Xunantunich

Shortest ferry crossing ever!

Exploring the Xunantunich archaeological site

A few more minutes after the ferry ride (and a small detour that my horse took in order to find something to eat), we finally reached Xunantunich in a very beautiful morning. That is, until it started to rain. No, not rain…pour. Not being prepared for the possibility of rain, I hid in the visitor’s center.

20 minutes later, the sun started to appear again. It seemed that Chaac, the Mayan God of Rain was being a very naughty boy today but I guess I must thank him for the amazing green color of the vegetation once the rain was over. I’ve already seen my fair share of Mayan Pyramids but trust me, Xunantunich’s main pyramid will surely leave you speechless.

Read more: http://journeywonders.com

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