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Other experiences in San Ignacio
El Pilar Maya Forest Birding Tour All Inclusive
US$145.00 per adult
Full view
San Ignacio Town Cayo District 12 Miles Northwest of San Ignacio, San Ignacio Belize
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Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Tour and Picnic
Nature & Wildlife

Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave Tour and Picnic

261 reviews
Step into the world of the ancient Maya on a tour of Actun Tunichil Muknal, hiking and wading deep into a series of tunnels, chambers, and passageways. Support from an experienced cave guide ensures a safe trip into—and back out of—the maze-like cave network, where you’ll find the "Crystal Maiden," the crystallized remains of an ancient ceremonial victim.
US$140.00 per adult
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Steven I wrote a review Mar 2020
16 contributions1 helpful vote
We visited this ruins after we went to two other guided ruin tours. This give us a different perspective of what the archeologists have done. It had a view over the canopy of the forest. We saw both howler and spider monkeys on the day we went. This one is not as popular because it has not been excavated much.
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Date of experience: March 2020
Brent M wrote a review Mar 2020
Newbury, Massachusetts38 contributions7 helpful votes
El Pilar is a fantastic site, much more important to Maya history than most other sites in the San Ignacio area. It is also the only major site that is not excavated, which makes it very interesting. I would describe the experience as ethereal. My wife and I were there in 2018 and had a wonderful visit. However, you should NOT visit El Pilar unless you have an armed security detail. The site is remote, straddles the contested border with Guatemala, and is very dangerous. When we returned at the end of February 2020 with two staff of a local NGO, we were attacked by four masked, armed men and robbed of everything we had. I and the other man in our group of four were both struck but not seriously injured. Everyone we met later said we are lucky to be alive. The Institute of Archaeology claims it discourages tour guides from taking visitors to El Pilar. However, there is no indication at the site that it is dangerous to visit. We relied on the assurances of our local hosts, and did not do enough of our own due diligence in advance. On subsequent research we found that others have been attacked in the past year, and it is likely that other attacks have gone unreported. El Pilar receives very few visitors and you are likely to find yourself there alone. There are only three Institute of Archaeology staff on site. They do not have weapons and, according to their superiors in Belmopan, are threatened if they report incidents to the police. Other sites in the region (Xunantunich, Caracol, Cahal Pech) have permanent staffing of the BDF (Belize Defense Force) or Tourist Police. Reportedly there are occasional patrols of El Pilar, but it is easy for thieves to know when authorities are not in the area. We were later told that we could have requested a security detail from the police but that is not well-known, not even to the manager of the nearest hotel. Police assume the assailants were from Guatemala. Two spoke in Spanish, but so do many Belizeans on the east side of the border. There is a causeway connecting the Guatemalan side of the site with Belize. We don’t know where the bandits came from, nor how they knew there would be visitors that day. The 12-kilometer road to the site from the village of Bullett Tree Falls is also very remote, with no settlements and little traffic, all in the disputed “zone of adjacency” with Guatemala. It should be assumed to be as dangerous as the site itself. Until the security situation is addressed, do not go to El Pilar Archaeological Site.
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Date of experience: February 2020
Danny C wrote a review Jan 2020
Seattle, Washington89 contributions13 helpful votes
Well it was dry when we started, but had rained quite a bit and the road to El Pilar became extremely muddy, all dirt of course and quite narrow. It's only 7 miles off of the bullet tree road, but seemed like 20. The jungle is nice there and they claim there are monkeys, but there are no ruins yet uncovered, just large mounds of dirt and trees. It is not worth the trip. Better to spend your time on other activities such as going to Tikal, or cave tubing .
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Date of experience: January 2020
Response from Anabel-2013, archaeology director at El Pilar
Responded 8 Feb 2020
El Pilar is an adventure. There is much to see and many areas offering a window into the life that was part of El Pilar's history. Rain in the rainforest, monkeys in the trees, temples shrouded in shade, sounds like an experience.
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Mark C wrote a review Oct 2019
15 contributions2 helpful votes
I have been to several unexcavated sites in the Southwest US and knew what to expect. Without a guide and limited reading before hand, all I could do was wander around and admire the site. If you go without a guide and don't understand the cultural implications of the various piles of rubble, you may question the drive. By city/suburban standards the road is very rough. By the standards of forest service roads in the US it was normal. Even though it was October when I went, there had not been rain in a few days and the road was dry. if you are not used to mud roads be very carefull after a rain.
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Date of experience: October 2019
mulvihilljs wrote a review Sep 2019
Belize17 contributions5 helpful votes
We went to this ruin. The signs are a great help. There is a map also indicating all the ruin sites. There are many sites yet to be unearthed but yet distinguishable that it is indeed a mayan ruin.
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Date of experience: August 2019
Response from Anabel-2013, director at El Pilar
Responded 5 Sep 2019
We like to call these ancient sites Monuments! This honors their regal past and unique qualities of travelers destination. We consider this site as a discovery!
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