Hidden Valley Day 3 – Caracol

Our third day at Hidden Valley, we decided to pay a visit to the ancient Mayan city of Caracol. It was a 30 mile drive from the inn, and we had a guide with us named Rick. Since Caracol is so close to the Guatemalan border (about 4 miles), we had to sign in at a military check point, and join a convoy to the ruins. Several years ago, there was a problem with Guatemalan rebels coming over the border and robbing tourists, so though the machine guns were a little unnerving, I was kind of glad that we were guarded by the military. It sounds more dramatic than it really was, but it was nice to be safe anyways.

Caracol is much different than some of the other, more famous Mayan ruin sites. It is largely un-excavated, so you can kind of get an idea of the massive amount of work the archaeologists go through to uncover the ruins. Here we are with our awesome tour guide Rick.

Rick is part Mayan, and he was such a wealth of information. A good tour guide always makes the difference, and he made this day one of our favorite experiences of the trip. We walked through some wooded areas before we got to the actual ruins.

Some of the trees were amazingly huge, and they have crazy huge roots because of the shallow ground.

Then we got to see some actual ruins. This would have been the base to a Mayan house.

Soon we started to see the taller buildings.

We were able to climb up on the buildings, which was really cool.

It is really amazing to think about the fact that these structures were built by hand, much of it BC.

Then we came to the mother load. This baby took 600 years to build, and to this day is the tallest man-made structure in Belize.

You can’t even see half of the building from here. Once you climb up to the top of what you see here, you encounter this.

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It was like another structure on top of the structure. And just for reference on the size of this, can you spot us standing on the steps?

The view from the top was pretty nice too. We could see into Guatemala.

As we were climbing back down, the highlight of the whole trip for me happened. Before we left for Belize, I told Steve countless times that I really really hoped we could see some monkeys. We could hear some howlers off in the distance, but Rick didn’t seem to think it was likely that we would actually see any in the area. Then he spotted what he thought was a tail in the trees, and sure enough, it was a whole family of howler monkeys, including a baby. Steve and I hurried down to the ledge, which was about even with some of the treetops, and there they were. At first, they were a little far away.

This little baby was very curious. She kept coming closer and closer to us, until she was literally within 5 feet. So cute.

As she got to close for comfort, the adults would get closer and make a noise to call her back.

This one was keeping a stern eye on the baby.

The huge male that was the leader of the family kept a watchful eye from a distance.

The baby was so cute and playful, I swear if the adults hadn’t been there she would have come right up to us and sat on our shoulders.

I could have stayed there and watched them all day, but it was time to go. We ate lunch at a pavilion in the park, and headed back. On the way, we stopped to look at another waterfall.

I liked the sign they had as you walked down towards the falls.

We had rick take this photo of us. Notice my right foot.

As we were waiting for him to snap the photo, I felt a fiery stinging itch on my foot. I was trying not to move for the picture, but as soon as he took it, I looked down, and my whole foot was being swarmed by fire ants. I freaked out and ripped off my shoes, and Steve had to carry me to safety.

We headed back to the inn and did our usual hot tub, dinner, fire in the cottage routine. All in all it was a great day, and it remains one of my favorite experiences of the trip.

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