Step Back in Time at the La Milpa Archaeological Site

by Larry Waight

Belize is a treasure trove of Maya history. At the La Milpa archaeological site, you can get a vivid picture of the Maya civilization at its peak. Put these ruins on your Belize to-do list.

La Milpa Is Historically Important

La Milpa may not be as famous as Altun Ha or Xunantunich, but it is extremely historically important. La Milpa is the third largest Maya city in Belize. Its wide area and lush greenery make it a pleasant place to spend the day walking, exploring and learning about Maya history. As you walk, you’ll see rows of structures that spread out and into the jungle. These buildings are excellent examples of Maya engineering at its best.

An Impressive Maya City

Archeologists estimate there may have been 46,000 people in La Milpa. That would make it one of the largest Maya settlements. This thriving city enjoyed a flourishing economy, trade with other cities and a mixed society of priests, rulers, craftworkers and farmers. The ruins clearly show there were 20 courtyards, two ball courts, four temple pyramids and over 85 structures. The enormous Great Plaza in the center of the city was one of the largest city squares in the known Maya world. The tallest pyramid stands almost 79 feet high. It’s clear that La Milpa was an impressive city and an important center of Maya life.

Where To Find La Milpa

The four lovely hardwood thatched cabañas at La Milpa Lodge are in tune with the natural surroundings of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area.

La Milpa is in the northern region of Belize and close to its borders with Guatemala and Mexico. It’s an hour and a half drive from Orange Walk Town. To visit La Milpa, you must enter the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area. This is a vast preserve that forms part of the Maya Biosphere protected region. The Rio Bravo protects and supports 200 tree species, 390 bird species and more than 70 animal species.

The 250,000-acre preserve is owned and operated by the nonprofit Programme for Belize (PfB). Established in 1988, the PfB focuses on sustainable forestry management in the Rio Bravo area. You can arrange a tour from Orange Walk or at the La Milpa field station inside the conservation area. The PfB runs an eco-lodge on the property.

Visit La Milpa

red bracket deer programme for belize ecotourism

The Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area is likely one of your best places to spot wildlife.

Visiting La Milpa lets you view the lush jungle and amazing wildlife of the Rio Bravo Conservation Area. You’ll also learn about Maya history as you take a walk back in time. Take it all in by staying on-site at the La Milpa Eco-Lodge or the Hill Bank Field Station

Header photo courtesy of Bird’s Eye View Lodge.

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