The Regions - Orange Walk Town
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Orange Walk Town
Located 66 miles north of Belize City and 30 miles south of Corozal Town, Orange Walk Town is one of the larger communities in Belize. Its 15,000 inhabitants work predominantly in local industry and agriculture, providing yet another facet of Belize with its own history and style. If passing through, stop and look around. The town has two banks, a few hotels, and a choice of many small, casual cafes. Roads from Orange Walk Town enable you to explore, in four directions, as many as 20 villages and numerous Maya ruins. Elsewhere in Orange Walk District you'll find several interesting historic sites including Indian Church Village; a 16th-century Spanish mission; and the ruins of Belize's original sugar mill, a 19th-century structure built by British colonialists.

New River and New River Lagoon
Trips up and down the New River and around the New River Lagoon are fun adventures for the entire family, with a chance to see Morelet's crocodiles and iguanas sunning on a bank. Night safaris can be equally exciting. It's a chance to see the habits of animals that come out to play only after the sun sets; you'll need the help of a good guide and a spotlight. By day you'll see the sights of verdant jungle and wildlife along the river. Many people combine a river trip with a visit to the ruins of Lamanai. It is the most impressive way to approach the site, and a time-saver as well compared to going by land. Contact any of the guide companies listed in the Lamanai sect

Lamanai Archaeological Zone
Set on the edge of a forested broad lagoon are the temples of Lamanai. One of the largest ceremonial centers in Belize, it is believed to have served as an imperial port city encompassing ball courts, pyramids, and several more exotic Maya features. Hundreds of buildings have been identified in the two-square-mile area. Today, visitors can see four large temples, a residential complex, and a reproduction stela of a Maya elite, Lord Smoking Shell. Excavations reveal continuous occupation and a high standard of living into the Post-Classic period, unlike other colonies in the region. Lamanai is believed to have been occupied from 1500 b.c. to the 19th century-Spanish occupation is also apparent with the remains of two Christian churches, and the sugar mill that was built by British colonialists.

A few sites to look for:
The Mask Temple N9-56: Here two significant tombs were found, as well as two Early Classic stone masks.

The High Temple N10-43: At 33 meters (10 feet) tall, this is the tallest securely dated Pre-Classic structure in the Maya area. Among many findings was a dish containing the skeleton of a bird and Pre-Classic vessels dating to 100 b.c.

Temple N10-9: Dated to the 6th century a.d., this temple had structural modifications in the 8th and 13th centuries. Jade jewelry and a jade mask were discovered here, as was an animal-motif dish.

The Ball Court: The game played in this area held great ritual significance for the Maya. In 1980, archaeologists raised the huge stone disc marking the center of the court and found lidded vessels containing miniature vessels with small jade and shell objects on top of a mercury puddle.

Archaeologist David Pendergast headed a team from the Royal Ontario Museum that, after finding a number of children's bones buried under a stela, presumed that human sacrifice was a part of the residents' religion. Large masks that depict a ruler wearing a crocodile headdress were found in several locations, hence the name Lamanai ("Sumerged Crocidile").

The landscape at the site is overgrown, and trees and thick vines grow from the tops of buildings - the only sounds are birdcalls echoing off the stone temple. To see above the thick jungle canopy, you can climb to the top of the temple on ancient steps that are still pretty much in place, and don't be surprised if you find Indiana Jone's hat at the top - ti's that kind of place.

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This is a small excerpt from Moon Handbooks Belize. CentralAmerica.Com highly recommends that you enhance your vacation by taking a copy of Moon's comprehensive Handbook with you. For more information visit the Moon Handbooks page on this site.

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