Prepare for morning pickup at your Belize City hotel and travel west in an air-conditioned van away from the shore and into the country’s lush green interior. Enjoy the changing views as you pass through coastal plains, traditional Creole villages, Mennonite farmland, the new capital of Belmopan, and the towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena. Finally, cross the scenic Mopan River on a hand-cranked ferry to ascend to the hilltop archaeological site of Xunantunich.
Learn about the history of this ancient Mayan city, which once served as an important spiritual and trading center of Mesoamerica and is home to one of the tallest ceremonial pyramids in Belize, the imposing El Castillo. Climb a series of stone staircases and through inner chambers to reach the top of the 130-foot (40-meter) temple, where you'll be rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding rainforest and into the nearby Guatemalan border. Keep an eye out for residents black howler monkeys swinging in the trees below.
Explore other components of the site including the ruins of royal palaces, a recreational ball court, a marketplace, and ceremonial bathhouses, and visit the on-site museum to see excavated artifacts like hand-carved stone friezes of Mayan gods. After letting your imagination run wild through thousands of years of human history, return to the van and relax on the ride back along the Western Highway to Belize City.