Xunantunich (Maiden of the Rock)

The name Xunantunich or zshoo-NAN-too-NEECH may prove to be a little challenging to some to pronounce. Our guides often tease that our visitors should just call it Tuna sandwich.

Xunantunich was the first site to be opened to the public, when the road and the hand cranked car ferry were completed in 1954. What you will see today is a Classic period (600-1000 AD) ceremonial center, with large plazas ringed with pyramids. The tallest is the astonishing 130 foot "El Castillo” (The Castle) which is large by Mayan standards and is only exceeded by the Caana pyramid at Caracol in the Mountain Pine Ridge. The site was occupied until around 1000 AD and was likely abandoned after an earthquake. Recent discovery suggests that Xunantunich was involved in warfare events against the powerful city of Caracol.

It is helpful to visit the center when you first arrive, to give you an overview for the rest of your visit.

Xunantunich mayan ruins image one

We highly recommend that you make the steep, but short, climb to the top of "El Castillo." This vantage point provides a breathtaking, 360 degree, panoramic view over the jungle canopy of the Mopan River valley, as well as a vast area of the border towns of Benque Viejo del Carmen in Belize and Melchor De Mencos in Guatemala , which is only a few miles away. You will also get a close look at the restored portions of two unique stucco friezes, which appear on the east and west sides of the upper portion of the pyramid.

Xunantunich mayan ruins image two

Tour Duration: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm or 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm

What’s included: Transportation to and from your hotel, park entrance fee, tour guide, water and sodas

What’s not included: Lunch isn’t included; however, feel free to ask your guide to stop at Benny's Restaurant in Succotz Village. Benny's is a family-owned restaurant that has been serving authentic Belizean Cuisine in the area for years

Level of Difficulty: Easy - Moderate – involves some steps and hill climbing

Location: Succotz Village, 20 minutes west of San Ignacio Town

Travel time to site: 40 minutes round trip from San Ignacio Town

Remember to bring along: Sturdy hiking shoes, bug spray, camera, sun screen, spending money for lunch and souvenirs