While I was in San Ignacio, I decided to do a Caracol tour, an ancient Maya city. Due to its remote location and the terrible state of the road, to get there, you’ll either need a 4 wheeler and good driving skills or to go via a tour. I choose the latest as it’s easier, more comfortable, and you get a guide.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Maya Walk. As always, all opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
For my Caracol tour, I went with Maya Walk Tours, one of the oldest tour operators in San Ignacio. Founded in 1997, the company offers lots of different tours, from Maya ruins to river tubing and jungle trekking. Maya Walk also tries to implement eco-friendly measures, I loved the fact that they don’t give out water bottles, you have to bring your own, and you refill it along the trip.
The Caracol tour starts at 7 AM; it takes around 3 hours to reach Caracol via a bad dirt road. You’ll drive through the jungle, passing small creeks and villages.
Caracol is not a huge site, but there is a lot to be said about it. The visit lasts around 3 hours. You’ll have plenty of time to take pictures, explore the city in and out, and take small breaks (a lot of stairs!).
The Caracol area was inhabited as early as 1200 BC. The city reached its pinnacle during the Classic Period. In 562 AD, the city defeated Tikal and ruled over the Peten region for more than a century. Archaeologists believed around 150 000 people lived there at this time and 30 000 structures have been identified.
The city was re-discovered in 1930 by logging workers, you can see one of the stelae in the middle of the main plaza destroyed, a truck drove on it. It was called Caracol (snail in Spanish) because of the numerous shells found there. There are still a lot of structures to excavate. When you see a hill, it’s actually a building.
After the Caracol tour, we had a tasty lunch (with Rum Punch!) at the site. Maya Walk offers vegetarian options if needed. Then, we headed to Rio Frio Cave.
Rio Frio Cave is a river cave, it’s around 100 meters deep, and openings on both sides are huge. You can enter it, and there’s plenty of light coming in. It’s a really beautiful place, with lots of stalactites and stalagmites, the river passing through and even a small beach.
Next stop was Rio On Pools, it took us about ten more minutes to reach it. The river is easily accessible, just be careful when stepping on the stones near, and in, the river, they’re super slippery.
The surroundings are breathtaking, the place is so peaceful, you might never want to live. The water is cool and refreshing, perfect after a day of exploring ruins. There’s a small waterfall, you can go under it and get a nice back massage. Some parts are shallow and can just sit there and relax, or if you want to swim, there are deeper parts as well.
The guide was super knowledgeable and friendly. He knew so much about the site, the Maya in general, and nature as well. I loved how he explained the use for each tree, their name, their properties, how Mayas used them, how they are used today… He is passionate about his work, and you feel it throughout the tour. He also gives you plenty of time to visit, eat, swim, I didn’t feel rushed at any time.
Related article – Best things to do in San Ignacio
What to bring for your Caracol tour:
- A water bottle (you can refill it during the tour)
- Mosquito repellent
- A swimsuit, and towel (they have a changing room in Rio on Pools, but they didn’t put a door, so not much privacy)
- Comfortable shoes
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