Altun Ha - An ancient ceremonial center

  • Location: Maskal Village, Old Northern Highway
  • Description: Half Day Tour or as Combination Tour
  • Recommended Wear: Hiking boots or sneakers
  • Combine With: Zoo, Cave Tube, Horseback, or Baboon Sanctuary
  • Level: Easy - Moderate (some walking & stair climbing)
As you rumble along the Old Northern Highway, which is more pothole than pavement, you'll see a few small hamlets with their inhabitants eager to smile and wave. The true ancient name is unknown, and "Altun Ha" is a Mayan translation of the nearby village named "Rockstone Pond." Even though Altun Ha is small as compared to other ruins in the region, the extent to which the site has been cleared and restored makes it easy to imagine its past glory and wealth as a major ceremonial center. A trek to the top of the 54ft Temple of the Masonry Altars is rewarded with a magnificent panorama of the site and the treetops of the jungle. The most spectacular find here was a six-inch high (15cm), ten pound, jadeite carving of the head of Kinich Ahau, the Sun God, which was found in the tomb of an elderly male priest.