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Altun Ha Archaeological Site

Altun Ha Pyramid




Location: 30 miles (50 km) North of Belize City  Map

Hours: 8 am - 5 pm

Entrance Fee: BZ $10




Altun Ha Archaeological Site History

Altun Ha Archeological Site is situated in the Belize District about 30 miles (50 km) north of Belize City and 6 miles (10 km) from the Caribbean Sea coast. Like many other Mayan ruins in Belize and Yucatan peninsula in general Altun Ha is a modern name. In local Yucatec Maya language haltun can be translated as a "cistern" while ha means "water".


Altun Ha Archaeological Site was first settled in the third century BC. It reached its apogee during Maya Classic era between 200 and 900 AD. With population of 10,000 Altun Ha covered an area of about 5 sq. miles (8 sq. km). About 900 AD for some unknown reason revolt broke out. It could be due to population collapse, hunger or social unrest. Elite palaces, temples and tombs were robbed of its valuables. The site was inhabited for another century, but it did not reach its previous greatness and eventually was abandoned by the 12th century. Altun Ha was found by amateur Mayanist Hal Ball who recognized a city under cover of the jungle in 1963.




Today about 500 structures of the original Altun Ha settlement are identified although most are still buried. The largest is the Temple of the Masonry Altars. It is not very high, only 16 meters (54 feet), but it is still an impressive structure. Numerous altars were used for burning of copal as a sacrifice to gods. The temple is depicted on Belikin beer label. Another important structure in Altun Ha Archaeological Site is the so- called GreenTomb that held body of a priest- king from around 600 AD.



Travel to Altun Ha Archaeological Site

The Old Northern Highway connects Altun Ha to Belize's Northern Highway. "Old Highway" is apt. The Northern Highway is a collection of potholes connected by small stretches of worn-out asphalt. Genuine Belize is what you see all the way from Belize City to Altun Ha. Not the tourist version.

There are four main ways to reach Altun Ha:
The most expensive way is to visit on a tour from Belize City. However, these tours tend to only run one or two times a week and run upwards of US$100. Your hotel or hostel will usually arrange this for you free of charge.
You can cut your price to about US$50 if you take a US$2 bus to Crooked Tree and sign up for a tour there.
The easiest and probably most cost effective method to visit Altun Ha is to rent a car and drive out there yourself.
Many taxi drivers will drive you out to Altun Ha, wait for 1-2 hours and then drive you back. The cost here depends greatly on which taxi driver you choose. The average cost will be US$50 regardless of the number of people who go. The most reliable drivers are located by the Marina in green and white uniforms. However, if you're on a budget, a regular taxi driver will take you for US$10-20 less.


Fees and permits
There is a small entrance fee which was BZ$10 as of May 2006.




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