Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
No
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Located on a hilltop near the town of San Ignacio, Cahal Pech is also known as the “place of ticks” in the Yucatecan Maya language. The nickname was given in the 1950s because of the prevalence of grazing cattle in the area at the time. It’s a smaller Mayan site compared to others nearby, such as Xunantunich and Caracol, but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the area and have a free afternoon.

Based on archaeological findings, the site was first settled around 1200 B.C. and was abandoned between 800 to 900 A.D. During the Late Classic period it’s estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 people lived in and around the site, making it a popular place to trade and share information. The site includes 34 buildings made from limestone blocks. The ceremonial center includes palaces, pyramid temples, and ball courts. The game was important in Mayan culture, but it varied throughout the region. The reason for abandoning the site is still unknown, but abandonment doesn't imply the disappearance of the Mayan people. They are still alive and thriving in the area today.

After the site was abandoned, nature took over and started to cover the structures. Today, much of the site has been excavated and can be explored on foot. This gives you the chance to walk back in time and imagine what life would have been like in the Belize River Valley thousands of years ago. Climbing the steep steps to the top of the site gives you a good view of the valley below and the mountains in the distance. Trees provide some shade, which can be a lifesaver on a hot, sunny day. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring water.

The site is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is an entrance fee, but it is minimal compared to the other larger Mayan ruins. Because of its small size, there are typically fewer visitors and it is an easy place to explore. There is also a small museum with information and artifacts on display. Admission to the museum is included with park admission.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Admission

Pros

Few people. Close to town. Small museum.

Cons

Bugs.

Features

Historically significant
Flushing toilets
Bird watching
Wildlife

Location

Field Guide

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