Area (ha):59,840
# Species:325
# Excl Vagrants:325
# Endemics:1
# Near Endemics:1
Species/100 ha:0.5
Habitat: Primary forest


Caracol ("Snail" in Mayan) is perhaps the largest and also most historically significant Mayan site in Belize. The site covers a large plateau deep in primary rainforest and was once home to the conquerers of Tikal in Guatemala. The site was settled around A.D. 300 and was in its prime until around A.D. 650, when it went into decline. Caracol was the dominant power in the region for about a century folloiwing its great victory over Tikal in A.D. 562. The highest temple on the site is 136 ft., just higher than the pyramid at Xunantunich. Though the ruins are partially excavated, a lifetime of archeological research will be needed to excavate the ruins within 6-9 miles of the central plaza.

Fabulous birding awaits those who venture into the area. This species once nested on the ruins and was readily found, but because of disturbance by visiting birding groups it now nests away from the ruins. More than 300 species have been recorded. Certainly the biggest attraction is the normally difficult to see endemic Keel-billed Motmot, which nests in the area. In addition to the birds, a variety of forest-dwelling mammals including 5 species of cats live in the area and are occasionally seen. Other notable mammals include the endangered Red Brocket Deer, Yucatan Black Howler Monkey, and Red Spider Monkey.


Caracol Archaeological Site is a remote area located about 2½ hours west of the Belize International Airport and then 50 miles south of the Western Highway in the southern part of Cayo District in Belize. The last 30 miles of road south of Augustine (now Douglas DeSilva) was once extremely rough track requiring 4-wheel drive vehicles. However, the road has been greatly improved and is now partly well-graded gravel and partly asphalt.