The Maya Ruins of Caracol
The Maya Ruins of Caracol
5
Ancient RuinsPoints of Interest & Landmarks
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This 30-acre complex is the largest Mayan ruin in Belize.
Duration: 1-2 hours
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  • MikeG1234
    Dorchester, United Kingdom22 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great site to visit and easier drive than expected
    The Mayan ruins are fantastic and the site is well worth the 2 hour drive (more on that in a minute). We went on a Sunday and although we were the second car there (at about 9:30) about 15 were there in total by the end, yet it is such a large site that it still felt empty. The entrance fee was only $7.50 (US) as it was low season, which was half price (i.e. it is now $15 US normally). We spent about 2 hours walking around and climbing each of the buildings. There are great views and lots to see. There is a small visitor centre which details a little about the site but it's you want to know more you either need a guide or to do some research first (which is what we did) DRIVING: we had hired a 4x4 specifically to get to Caracol. We read a lot and we're quite worried before we set off, especially as there has been a lot of heavy rain in San Ignacio during the previous 2 days. On the day the weather was dry, although it has rained at least a little overnight. The drive was absolutely fine and not at all difficult. Plus, it is only going to get easier as there is a massive effort to build a new road going on. From the Western highway to about a mile before Rio on Pools the road is new tarmac and in perfect condition. It then becomes a dirt road until a mile or two after the Macal river. For most of this section it is a wide (2 lane) well leveled surface that is being prepared for the new tarmac and so very easy to drive. There are a few spots with more rutting but I was comfortable doing 20-35mph most of this section. The worst part is as you approach and leave the river and was the only bit I was glad I had a 4x4. The final 10 miles or so are an old tarmac surface but this is mostly all eroded and encroached by the jungle. It is still easy to drive but slowly to watch for pot holes. There are sections overall where if it was in heavy rain I can see it would be more difficult, but the road was dry deposit the previous days rain so it drains reasonably well. I really wouldn't worry about this drive except in sustained heavy rain. It is not as bad as you may read, mainly because the improvement works have had a big impact already and even comments from a year ago will be out of date about the state of the road. We even saw 1 local arrive in a normal car. The attached pictures give some idea of the conditions. Also, there was no check point in operation when we drove. There is a spot at the start of Pine Ridge reserve for one but it wasn't in use. I don't know if this was just because it was Sunday.
    Visited July 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 30 July 2023
  • Ema_il_viaggiatore
    Milan, Italy166 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    2WD self driving, it is easy!
    We visited Caracol today, August 9th, on a self-driving excursion. We used a Chevrolet Equinox, a 2WD SUV, for the trip. Maybe thanks to the sunny and dry weather, the journey was surprisingly easy with no issues. The drive took approximately 2 hours. The initial 20 miles were on paved roads, followed by the next 20 miles on unpaved roads and ongoing construction. However, these roads were wide and in excellent condition. The final 10 miles were partially paved and narrower in comparison. Contrary to what some agencies may suggest, the drive isn't an extreme adventure; it's similar to many other streets in Belize. Don't be swayed by emotional manipulation from agencies trying to sell expensive packages or 4x4 rentals. The journey is perfectly manageable on your own. Upon reaching the site, you'll find it expansive and incredibly captivating. The area boasts impressive constructions along with hidden chambers and tombs, adding to its intrigue. I highly recommend visiting Caracol for a memorable experience.
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 8 August 2023
  • Navigate37996068941
    1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Drive to Carocal
    My wife, son and I are holidaying from Australia, we hired a 4wd and drove from San Ignacio to Caracol. We read the reports of the poor conditions of the road. However, the roads are rapidly being improved, and it took us approximately 1 hour and 55 minutes to drive to Carocal .The first 50 minutes were on beautifully paved roads, and the remaining journey was on slower bumpy roads, but not difficult or scarey at all. We had nice dry conditions. They are constructing approximately 5 bridges, so I feel the roads are getting better every day. We visited the outstanding, popular Tikal Site in Guatemala the previous day ,however in comparison, upon arrival at Carocal (11am) there were only 10 cars in the carpark. Sensational place , we almost had it to our selves.
    Visited December 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 3 December 2023
  • MeMyselfandIldi
    New Jersey104 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A must see if you are going to Cayo region!
    We arranged a trip to Caracol through our jungle lodge and it was incredible! I wasn't sure if we should visit Caracol or Tikal when we were planning our trip but it sounded like Caracol would be less crowded and that was spot on. We encountered a few other small groups over the course of our visit, but it almost felt like we had the site to ourselves! I'd definitely recommend going with a guide, our guide was able to explain a lot of details to us that we would not have understood or been able to discover without a guide. It's amazing to think how long this took to build, and the ingenuity the Mayan had to plan for aqueducts and water collection! We also did a quick trip to the Rio Frio Cave and Rio on Pools in combination with Caracol since they are all close together.
    Visited January 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 20 February 2024
  • Christine S
    29 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great ruins- can’t compare them to Tikal as didn’t see
    A trek out there but, if dry, roads are fine esp with 4 wheel drive. Drove out there ourselves with a guide, Ronny, provided by crystal paradise. The ruins themselves were impressive and we enjoyed learning about the history and I especially appreciated things he picked out during the hike we would have missed, like some of the buried sites. Also, it makes a great day tour when combined with rio frio cave and a waterfall (we did big rock which was a good one - with places to jump from the rocks).
    Visited February 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 22 February 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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5.0
5.0 of 5 bubbles641 reviews
Excellent
528
Very good
101
Average
11
Poor
1
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0

MikeG1234
Dorchester, UK22 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Family
The Mayan ruins are fantastic and the site is well worth the 2 hour drive (more on that in a minute). We went on a Sunday and although we were the second car there (at about 9:30) about 15 were there in total by the end, yet it is such a large site that it still felt empty. The entrance fee was only $7.50 (US) as it was low season, which was half price (i.e. it is now $15 US normally). We spent about 2 hours walking around and climbing each of the buildings. There are great views and lots to see. There is a small visitor centre which details a little about the site but it's you want to know more you either need a guide or to do some research first (which is what we did)

DRIVING: we had hired a 4x4 specifically to get to Caracol. We read a lot and we're quite worried before we set off, especially as there has been a lot of heavy rain in San Ignacio during the previous 2 days. On the day the weather was dry, although it has rained at least a little overnight.

The drive was absolutely fine and not at all difficult. Plus, it is only going to get easier as there is a massive effort to build a new road going on. From the Western highway to about a mile before Rio on Pools the road is new tarmac and in perfect condition. It then becomes a dirt road until a mile or two after the Macal river. For most of this section it is a wide (2 lane) well leveled surface that is being prepared for the new tarmac and so very easy to drive. There are a few spots with more rutting but I was comfortable doing 20-35mph most of this section. The worst part is as you approach and leave the river and was the only bit I was glad I had a 4x4. The final 10 miles or so are an old tarmac surface but this is mostly all eroded and encroached by the jungle. It is still easy to drive but slowly to watch for pot holes.

There are sections overall where if it was in heavy rain I can see it would be more difficult, but the road was dry deposit the previous days rain so it drains reasonably well. I really wouldn't worry about this drive except in sustained heavy rain. It is not as bad as you may read, mainly because the improvement works have had a big impact already and even comments from a year ago will be out of date about the state of the road. We even saw 1 local arrive in a normal car. The attached pictures give some idea of the conditions.

Also, there was no check point in operation when we drove. There is a spot at the start of Pine Ridge reserve for one but it wasn't in use. I don't know if this was just because it was Sunday.
Written 30 July 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

iandebc
Edmonton, Canada44 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020
This Mayan site is special because although there are some well restored buildings, which you can still walk up, the immensity of the site itself and the obvious but still covered buildings makes it very evocative of the size and importance of this site. Also because it is quite remote and not easy to get to, the number of visitors is quite low and therefore a very peaceful site to explore. A good tour guide is important to get the history of the people, etc. It must be noted that the road to the site is very long and rough and takes about 3 hours to get there. A stop at the Rio Frio Cave on the way in and the Rio On Pools on the way out is a good idea, even though it makes it quite a long day.
Written 28 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Cacao G
New York City, NY219 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2019 • Friends
A must for any lover of the Myon culture. The excavations at the site give you so many glimpses into how the Royal man lift as well as some of the dwellings the common folks lived in. The pyramid is impressive and the views spectacular if you trek to the top. Medium difficulty. What’s most impressive is the actual archaeology going on there. The way in which the story is told through the way in which it was excavated sets it apart and is truly a marvel rivaled only by Caracol.
Written 10 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Steven I
16 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2020 • Couples
Derrick our guide guided us through very bumpy roads to this complex. He also shared with us how the Mayans lived and what lead to their leaving this place. These ruins had more tombs uncovered and big plaza yards. The howler monkeys were very vocal the day we went. They sounded like dinosaurs. It is worth the long ride.
Written 22 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Stephan H
Munich, Germany65 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2023
When I first visited this amazing Maya site back in 2016, the road was rough all the way from the entry to Mountain Pine Ridge and you had to be at Douglas D'Silva Ranger Station at 9 am in order to join a military convoy. From there the remaining 22 miles to Caracol were suitable for 4WD cars only.

Meanwhile, the road is continuously paved all the way to the Big Rock junction. Beyond that point you enter a massive construction area with the goal to pave the entire access road to Caracol by 202x (I don't think a date has been set). For now you will find a few paved patches, but mainly very well graded road up until the Ranger Station, where you have to sign in, but joining the military convoy is no longer required.

The road eventually becomes a bit rougher closer to Caracol, but I think it would also be manageable with a 2WD (with high clearance) ... as long as it is not raining, It was a lot worse seven years back, but today this last stretch is easy to drive compared to e.g,, the road to the 1000 Foot Falls viewing platform.

I highly recommend to self-drive and to make stops at Rio Frio Caves as well as Rio on Pools on the way out or (even better) on the way back. Make sure to go to Caracol early (site opens at 8 am, which means you probably have to leave San Ignacio at 6 am) as that way you might have the entire place to yourself before the tour buses arrive.

I was lucky to enjoy a peaceful site ... until the Howler Monkeys kicked in. Make sure to visit this wonderful place before the road is paved and hordes of tourists will invade the place!
Written 8 February 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ema_il_viaggiatore
Milan, Italy166 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Friends
We visited Caracol today, August 9th, on a self-driving excursion. We used a Chevrolet Equinox, a 2WD SUV, for the trip.

Maybe thanks to the sunny and dry weather, the journey was surprisingly easy with no issues. The drive took approximately 2 hours. The initial 20 miles were on paved roads, followed by the next 20 miles on unpaved roads and ongoing construction. However, these roads were wide and in excellent condition. The final 10 miles were partially paved and narrower in comparison.

Contrary to what some agencies may suggest, the drive isn't an extreme adventure; it's similar to many other streets in Belize. Don't be swayed by emotional manipulation from agencies trying to sell expensive packages or 4x4 rentals. The journey is perfectly manageable on your own.

Upon reaching the site, you'll find it expansive and incredibly captivating. The area boasts impressive constructions along with hidden chambers and tombs, adding to its intrigue. I highly recommend visiting Caracol for a memorable experience.
Written 8 August 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

MeMyselfandIldi
New Jersey104 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Couples
We arranged a trip to Caracol through our jungle lodge and it was incredible! I wasn't sure if we should visit Caracol or Tikal when we were planning our trip but it sounded like Caracol would be less crowded and that was spot on. We encountered a few other small groups over the course of our visit, but it almost felt like we had the site to ourselves! I'd definitely recommend going with a guide, our guide was able to explain a lot of details to us that we would not have understood or been able to discover without a guide. It's amazing to think how long this took to build, and the ingenuity the Mayan had to plan for aqueducts and water collection!
We also did a quick trip to the Rio Frio Cave and Rio on Pools in combination with Caracol since they are all close together.
Written 20 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Neal M
Hanover, MD32 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2022
We drove our rental to Caracol, which absolutely requires an AWD vehicle with good ground clearance. The roads are very bumpy and muddy and it takes you as much time getting to and from Caracol as you will spend at the site. The site itself is very impressive and it is even more so because you can climb up most of the temples and get great views of the surrounding jungle.

We did not have a tour guide and felt that you could learn much of the information online or on a different tour of a Mayan site. Entrance to Caracol itself is inexpensive and we brought a cooler with our own lunch. You can include a stop at Rio on Pools on your way in/out.
Written 27 January 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

GeneralShamu
New York City, NY1,134 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2023 • Couples
The road to Caracol is dirt road for the last 30+ kilometers. If it has been raining it’ll be a nightmare to get through. Even when dry, it is still not particularly enjoyable. They are working on building out the road in full but given the number of workers, or lack there of, just assume that this is a 2027 completion project at the earliest. Definitely hire a guide to take you as they will also then be able to take you to Rio on Pools and Big Rock Falls on the way back. Total time needed at the ruins is about 90 minutes to two hours. The military that monitors the site (no it’s not dangerous just remote) wants everyone out by 2pm so ensure you get there by mid morning to late morning the absolute latest.
Written 22 June 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

cjlthehappytraveler
Santa Fe, NM61 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2023
Caracol is a beautiful, set of ruins that are also the biggest in Belize. Previous year's safety concerns about traveling to this remote site have dissipated. There are now many road crews at work along the route, a military checkpoint where visitors check in and check out. Also, Belize is paving the road into Caracol, which will dramatically increase ease of access. Most of the road is in good shape now. I also visited the Rio On pools, which was quite nice after the hot day at the ruins. I recommend traveling with a guide because the turnoffs on the roads into the site are unmarked and it seems quite easy to get lost. There was no cell service so if you broke down or got lost you'd be in some trouble.
Written 15 March 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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