Xunantunich is a Mayan site.  It's located in Western Belize, within sight of the border with Guatemala.  This is the first view the visitor gets after they hike a mile up hill from the ferry (below).  The top of the structure which is barely visible is called El Castillo, and is the main structure at the site.  This area was a minor city in the Mayan Empire, and feels much more approachable than large sites like Tikal.

The ferry is the only way to cross the river and get to Xunantunich.  The good news is, it's free!  An operator turns a hand crank to pull the ferry along cables attached to each bank.


We saw several species of birds on our hike to the site, including this White Fronted Parrot and what I think is a Couch's Kingbird.

This butterfly was nice enough to hold still long enough so I could take this picture.

Here is El Castillo, before all the morning mist has burned off.

As this picture of Angela attests, you need to be in good shape to visit Mayan Sites.  The climb from the courtyard to the viewing area of El Castillo is daunting enough, and we didn't even bother to climb to the top for the grand view.

The next few pictures show the most striking feature of this site, the Mayan reliefs of masks on the East and West faces of the Temple.  First, the West facade:

And then, the Eastern side, which are better preserved and (in the morning, anyhow) in much better light for photographs:

This mound sits in the middle of the plaza across from El Castillo.

The city nearest to Xunantunich (and also Belize's gateway to Tikal, in Guatemala) is San Ignacio.  This is the new bridge across the river to its sister city of Santa Elena.  It is, I believe, the only suspension bridge in Belize.  The last two shots are of a bird and a turtle near the pond behind our hotel.


We watched the lunar eclipse (on 20 Feb 08) from poolside at the Aguada Hotel.  There pictures were taken using our telephoto lens.  The time between these two pictures is about a hour; in the second picture, the moon is fully in the shadow of the earth.