Lamanai is the site of one of the more interesting and picturesque Mayan ruins. Most of the area was not excavated until the mid-1970s, but investigation and restoration efforts were concentrated on the Mask Temple, pictured here.
Lamani and The New River Safari
Although the bus ride is long, it was an interested ride and our guide Reyna's commentary made the trip go by fast. The boat ride, although lengthy was interesting. We saw quite an array of flora and fauna. the ruins are terrific and our guide timed getting us to each stop so that our group was the only one in that part at the time. The lunch provided was very good.
More magnificent ruins that you could climb with yet more spectacular views. Riverboat ride to get there was on a high speed launch with a magnificent pilot who knew to a nicety just how fast he can take the many river bends - he could also spot wildlife despite flying along and could bring you to a stop immediately so you didn't miss anything!
Fabulous. Highly recommend. Edgar and Gion were fantastic. Ruins were amazing.
We selected Lamani and the Amazing River Cruise. FANTASTIC. Again because we booked this through the cruise ship, we were on the first tender off the ship. Everything was organized to a tee. Once off the tender, we met our guides Edgar and Gion who escorted us to a nice air-conditioned bus. The bus ride to the river is an hour long. While not tremendously scenic, it was informative as Edgar explained the history and culture of the Mayan people. It was wild driving in Belize. I am not quite sure there are speed limits or rules on the road. Never felt unsafe…but it was a crazy drive. We then arrived at the dock were we boarded a speedboat that took us on a tour (45 minutes each way) down the river to the Lamani dock. The boat ride was very interesting to see the landscape, birds and wildlife. We even saw an enormous black crocodile. Lamani was stunning. Edgar and Gion gave us great information about the ruins. We were even able to climb to the top of the temple.
Unfortunately our tour ran late and rather than having a leisure lunch back at the dock, we had to take our food to go and eat on the bus. I am sure there will be others on the tour who will complain about it…but I would much rather eat my lunch on the bus than risk not making the tender back to the ship. We had about 30 minutes to spare to board the LAST tender. So again……book through the ship and you will be guaranteed not to miss the ship. Great tour…highly recommends it and hope you get Edgar and Gion as your tour guides.
We were glad that we booked the tour through the ship as we were given tender preference and were told that the ship would wait for us if the longer tour was late.
This was a long day with a 1 hour bus ride, 45 minute high speed river boat ride and a brief tour of the ruins. The tour included a lunch and we returned on the boat and bus to Belize City. We all enjoyed this tour.
We learned so much about Belize and the Mayan culture on this excursion! We rode in an air conditioned school type bus for an hour to get to the eco-park, but the time flew by because our guides pointed out wildlife and landmarks and told us all about Belize as we traveled. Then we took a speed boat ride from the eco-park to the ruins, which were breathtaking. The guides led us through the ruin sites sharing information about the Mayans and also the plants and trees we saw. We also had time to explore and in some cases, climb, the ruins ourselves. The speed boat then took us back to the eco park where we had a yummy lunch of local delicacies, and then the bus ride back again. The guides had so much pride in and knowledge about their culture and seeing the different landscapes and areas of Belize beyond the city was fascinating. It could not have gone better.
If you have a cardiovascular condition or physical disability - be careful.
We had to step through canopy crossbars into the riverboat, which proved difficult for several people.
At Lamanai, it's a rainforest, so it WILL rain. Take a goretex jacket, and if asthma, an inhaler, since the very high humidity paired with the walking may make breathing more difficult. I wore high traction volleyball sneakers, which helped on the at times pretty slippery steps and paths.
If it rains, you can only go to the second level of the Big Temple, not all the way to the top, for safety reasons. Since there are a lot of groups, you don't get pushed, but you don't idle by the sites. The guides explain the background/history.
More interesting than Lamanai to me was seeing every-day Belizan countryside.
I've lived in 3rd world countries, so I don't go sightseeing and expect Diamonds International. Very interesting cultural mix in Belize.
We had "Fat Boy" as our tour guide. That is how he introduced himself because that belly shows that he is healthy. He was great! Lots of fun, and entertaining. The tour was very good. You take a short bus ride to a boat. the boat ride is about an hour each way to the ruin site. You walk through the jungle into the ruin site, where again you can climb the temples. We saw a large group of Howler monkeys. Oh, - and don't stand under the monkeys.
Don't do the ruins in Belize. 6 hours (2 boats and 1 bus) of travel for 1 hour of ruins. Waste of time. Guides were great but that is where it ends. It would have been better to rent a vehicle and drive there ourselves. Would have been done in half the time and would have been able to spend more than an hour at the ruins (didn't find that out until after a LONG day in the rain).
A good option for sure!!!! THOUGH bus is 1 hour (fine), River boat is 1 hour (a bit too long) and plenty of time at the ruins and definitely great ruins...and lots of howler monkeys which was very cool. Lunch is definitely not kid friendly if your kids are picky so pack accordingly.
We loved Belize!! I have read other reviews saying Belize is their least favorite place. We booked a Mayan temple tour with Lamanai Belize Tours. This is a local family operated tour company - run by brothers and their wives. We made sure to get the first tender off the Getaway which was easy because you can book your tender using one of the ships flat screen kiosks which are all over. Do it on your first day at sea. The trip is an hour long van ride, then another hour on a jungle riverboat ride before they take you on a guided tour of Lamanai. What we loved about Lamanai was all of the excavated temples and residential areas are surrounded by jungle so in between you are walking through canopies of huge palm trees, howler monkeys, and still covered ancient ruins. Only 5% of the ancient city has excavated. They take you back on the riverboat then you eat a wonderful home cooked meal of curried chicken, rice and salsa. We made it back to port by 3pm with plenty of time to roam around a shop in port.
We went on the extreme excursion which included a speed boat ride to Lamanai. The ruins are incredible. We wish we'd had more time to climb them all and to explore more, but another family's ship was leaving an hour before ours, and we were cut a little short. Still, we loved our day.
This is an excursion I would not do again. Too much time spent traveling to the ruins and back. We spent probably 4 hours of the day traveling and only and hour and a half at the ruins. The ruins were good, just too much traveling.
Large group of people. Long bus ride and boat ride but well worth it to see the ruins - last of the ruins you can still climb on from what I heard. Bus driver, and ruins guide very knowledgeable. AC worked fine on the bus despite what people said. Good way to see Belize countryside. Be prepared for rain this time of year though on the boat! We got drenched but luckily it stopped by the time we arrived to the ruins. Kudos to the drivers for driving through the rain to get us there.
The ruins were very impressive, and Lamanai Belize Tours did a great job of showing us them. I am not going to lie, we got back after the 4:00 "last tender" time, and I was stressed out about missing the ship—but we didn't miss the ship, there were plenty of tenders left. Still, this was a sour point in an otherwise great day.
This is a family operation and we honestly have mixed feelings about it. Our guide Javier was extremely knowledgeable and friendly and the lunch provided at the end of the tour was very good (chicken, rice, beans, slaw, plantains, fresh fruit and water or soda). It's no fault of the tour operators but it is a bit of a trek to and from the ruins. Javier met us at the port and we then had a one hour van ride (at least it was newer and had functioning seat belts and AC) to their compound at the river where we transferred to an aluminum flat bottomed boat for about an hour on the water. Unfortunately with all the travel time you're only left with 45 minutes to an hour at the site. I'm glad we visited it but not sure it was worth all the transport time to get there and back.
You take a LONG (nearly 1.5 hours) bus ride to a speedboat that takes about 45 minutes to get to the ruins. The speedboat is a lot of fun and went really fast through the river. The ruins were really amazing. Some friends have said ruins they have seen turned out to be just piles of rocks. This is definitely not that. this is legit. you get maybe an hour and a half at the ruins then go back to where the speedboat meets the bus for lunch. we had chicken, rice and peas, coleslaw bread pudding and water and juice. they also have beers and cokes to buy. if you want to do ruins, do this one.
Boat broke down on the way to the ruins, time at the ruins was limited as a result. We were rushed through the ruins. Lunch was at 2:30 PM, after returning from river boat ride, too late if one had a 7:00 dinner. Lunch was horrible and they serve you one tiny piece of chicken if you don't ask for more, and if you do there was that look. Most other independent excursions to the ruins that I saw had bottled water and had lunch on site at the ruins. Did I say it was way too expensive?
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