NOTE: Above Prices are for Cruise passengers only. Overnight prices are different.
We do tours for private groups and also
large groups. Our small private groups
travel in our 6 seater or 14 seater vans.
Large groups go on our tour buses.
Tour Buses have restroom facility for
number 1's, you may go in a case of emergency.
Small private groups usually consist of a
family, so at times two small families at
most will be placed together in one of our small vans.
Challenge Travel and Tours is dedicated
to providing an experience of Belize that
will leave beautiful memories to last a lifetime.
Our Vans and Guides a work:
The Ancient City of AltunHa
Come and experience
the presence of the mysterious Mayan civilization whose glory goes way
back in the pages of history. They were a very advanced civilization
during their height. Just 31 miles from Belize City, the ancient city of
Altun Ha is said to have been one of the most important ceremonial
centers in the Mayan world. This is mainly because Kinich Ahau, the
Mayan sun god and the largest carved jade artifact in the Mayan world,
was discovered there. You will be amazed by the huge Mayan temples
constructed 1000 years BC. Walk on the foot steps of the ancient Mayans
on the plazas used for meetings, rituals and ceremonies.
The area around the Altun Ha is rich in wildlife including armadillos, bats, squirrels, agouti, paca, foxes, raccoons, coati, tyra, tapir and the white-tailed deer. Two hundred species of birds have been recorded and there are large crocodiles that inhabit the Maya-made water reservoir.
OUR ALTUNHA TOUR ONLY $50.00 USD P.P - Minimun of 4 pax ($75.00 USD P.P for 2 to 3 pax)
This is our best
We will take care of your every need while in Belize. Our AltunHa tour includes Entrance Fees. Lunch can be arranged, just let us know when you book.
What to bring: sun block, bug spray, hat, medication (if necessary), sun glases, camera
Suggested Footwear: Hiking shoes or tennis shoes,
Tour Duration: 4 hrs
Altun Ha is a
comparatively small, but surprisingly rich, minor ceremonial center of
Classic Maya Civilization. Located 10 km from the Caribbean sea and 30
miles north of Belize City, in an area once thought to be peripheral to
the Maya civilization, Altun Ha was an important link in the coastal
trading routes between the southern lowlands (Guatemala, Honduras &
Belize) and the Yucatan and Mexico. The extensive excavation carried out
at Altun Ha by the Royal Ontario Museum?s British Honduras Expedition
from 1964-1970, headed by Dr. David Pendergast, have demonstrated the
significance of this region of the ancient Maya world.
As with most Maya
sites, the true ancient name of the city is unknown. The name Altun Ha,
literally ?rockstone water?, is a rough translation into Maya of the
name of the nearby modern village of Rockstone Pond.
encompasses an area of approximately 2.5 square km. (approx. one square
mile), and includes at least 500 visible structures or mounds. At its
peak, the population of Altun Ha and the surrounding vicinity may have
been 8,000-10,000 inhabitants, with perhaps 3,000 individuals living in
the central square mile of the site.
evidence of the settlement at Altun Ha dates to 200 B.C., although it is
likely that nomadic hunting-and-gathering people lived in the area long
before then. The earliest permanent buildings were erected in an area
west of the central precinct, now accessible to visitors. The earliest
construction in the central precinct may date to the time of Jesus
Christ. The first major construction in A.D. 100, in the form of a
temple near the principal reservoir, but by the beginning of the Classic
Period (A.D. 250) the focus had shifted to the area, which the visitor
sees today. This was to be the central core of the site for some six
centuries. The northern plaza was the primary ceremonial precinct until
close to the end of the Early Classic, about A.D. 550, when construction
was begun on the second plaza.
The basic form of
the ceremonial buildings consists of a solid pyramidal structure, atop
which an altar, chambered building of masonry, or the perishable wood
and thatch was placed. Each of the ceremonial structures which the
visitor sees today represents not one but several buildings. The Maya
periodically rebuilt their temples covering the earlier structures
completely and building on top of it, or modifying it in some other
major way. The temples thus grew is size through successive additions
over the centuries. The modern reconstructions of these pyramids
represent a composite of different construction phases, a combination
that would never be visible in ancient times.
Altun Ha continued until about A.D. 900, though a decline in the quality
of new building was evident 150 years earlier. As at other classic Maya
sites, the society appears to have been severely disrupted early in the
tenth century A.D. Although no single factor explains the collapse of
Maya civilization, there is some evidence that a violent peasant revolt
may have contributed to the downfall of the Maya at Altun Ha.
The center was not
completely abandoned after the collapse, but appears to be occupied for
about 100 years after construction activity had ceased, and reoccupied
200 years later during the 13th and 14th centuries.
The Jade Head: Kinich Ahau - the Mayan Sun God is in the Museum of Belize.
Ever since its discovery, the jade head has been the subject of much controversy among Belizeans. For years most of us have believed that, shortly after its discovery, this unique Maya masterpiece was spirited out of the country and never returned to its rightful home. To dispel this myth, we at the Belize Institute of Archaeology recently (May 2005) invited Channel 7 to accompany us on a mission to prove that the jade head still resides in Belize, and that it remains one of the crown jewels of the country. Having accomplished our mission we would now like to provide some general information on this exquisite piece of ancient Maya art.
The jade head was discovered at in the Belize District's Mayan site of Altun Ha in 1968 by Dr. David Pendergast of the Royal Ontario Museum of Canada. The head, along with forty other objects, had been placed within a large tomb that was located below the stair block on the Temple of the Masonry Altars (Structure B4). At the center of the tomb were the remains of an elderly adult male. This elite person was likely an important ruler of the site during his lifetime and may have commissioned an artist to produce the large carved object. We do not know the exact date that the head was carved, but analysis of cultural remains within the tomb suggests that the burial, and accompanying grave goods, were deposited in the structure sometime between 600 and 650 A.D.
Weighing 9.75 pounds and standing almost 6 inches high, the jade head remains the single largest carved jade object yet discovered in the Maya area. Its crossed eyes, fang-like elements on either side of the mouth, and the ahau glyph on the forehead all identify the head as a representation of the Maya sun god Kinich Ahau. Along with Chac (rain god) and Yum Kax (corn god), Kinich Ahau was among the most important deities in the Maya pantheon.
The Altun Ha jade head is truly a remarkable object and exquisite work of art. It is the only one of its kind in all of Mesoamerica. Because it was carved with nothing more than stone tools, we know that it may have taken many months, if not years, to produce. It was also carved from one large solid piece of jade that was imported from the Motagua River Valley region of Guatemala. Jade was also the most precious of stones to the Maya. Beside its exotic origins, its green color reflected that of water and the corn plant, the two most precious, life sustaining substances to the ancient Maya of northern Belize.
As it undoubtedly was to the prehistoric inhabitants of Altun Ha, the jade head continues to be a most important icon to the people of Belize today. It is prominently displayed on all Belize currency and has become an important symbol of our young nation. It is truly a remarkable work of art and everyone should make every effort to view it whenever it goes on display.
By Dr. Jaime Awe
Director, Belize Institute of Archaeology