Quiriguá is home to some of the most glorious and prolific monuments and sculptures ever built by the ancient Mayan community. Located near Motagua River in Guatemala, Quiriguá boasts beautiful pyramids, terraces, and stairways that were built under the rule of K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat, between 724 and 785 AD. The Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. The ruins of Quiriguá are known for their impressive series of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic sculptures and carved stelae. They are the most attractive pre-Columbian works known so far. Quiriguá together with Copán (in Honduras) is one of the major testimonies of the Mayan civilization. Check this guide below to learn what you can see and experience in the world's most important historical site.
Things to do and see in and near Quiriguá
Quiriguá – Natural Attractions
Set within the Caribbean lowlands near Lake Izabal, Quiriguá is smaller but popular for its architectural and carving style. It holds some fabulous Mayan sculptures. The ceremonial center of Quiriguá features Acropolis, the Great Plaza, and the Ballcourt Plaza. The Great Plaza is 325 meters long from north to south and is the largest plaza of its kind. The Acropolis plaza is fully enclosed and the Ballcourt Plaza is located at the end of all the plazas. There are zoomorphs and stelae that are protected beneath thatched roof structures. The most amazing and tallest stela is 36-meter high Stela E. The other main feature is a series of monuments, including Stela A, Stela C, Zoomorpho B, Zoomorpho B, and Altar M. What makes them even more iconic than the Egyptian obelisks is that these towering monuments are hewn from the ground as single pieces of rock. The zoomorphs are animal and animal-human hybrids depicting snakes, frogs, jaguars and turtles. The figures are carved with heirogyphs and the texts, which are considered to be the most elaborate inscriptions to be found on Mayan structures. While exploring these magnificent structures, note the elaborate headdresses, beards on some figures and glyphs on the sides of stela. There is also a small museum where you will learn about Quiriguá's historical and geopolitical significance. Since the Mayan site is located in the seismic zone and exposed to storms and hurricanes, it becomes difficult for the Guatemala government to conserve and protect this place.
Nearby Tourist Attractions
• Copán: Copán or “Kingdom of the Sun” is located in a valley created by the Copan River that runs alongside the city. Situated near to Quiriguá, Copán features stone structures date back to the 9th century BC. Las Copán Ruinas are the highlight of Copán. There are more sculptures here than any other Pre-Columbian city, and the ruins are prized for the carved stellae of ancient rulers. While in Copan, do consider a visit to Luna Jaguar Aguas Termales hot spring, Macaw Mountain bird sanctuary, The Butterfly House, and Casa K'inich Children's Museum. Copán has one of the world's longest zip lines, so enjoy zip lining with your group. Visit La Pintada, a Maya Chorti village, and to Los Sapos on the back of a horse and enjoy swimming in a river located near to Los Sapos.
• El Estor: El Estor town has a laid-back environment, and this becomes evident as you stroll along its brick streets. Since El Estor falls on the path of various migratory birds coming to Lago Izabal, you can expect to see beautiful birds along the shores of the lake.
• Livingston: This town is home to Guatemala's Garifuna population. The Livingston-Rio Dulce boat ride is the most demanded trip in this region since you get to explore the natural beauty and spot beautiful migratory birds. Spend some time in Playa Blanca beach and take a trip to Siete Altares waterfalls.
• Puerto Barrios: Puerto Barrios is the largest port city of Guatemala. Tourists use it as a jumping off point to visit other destinations. One of the most visited places in Barrios is a local river called Las Escobas; you can take a boat ride on this river.
• Rio Dulce Town and River: With its charming scenery and connectivity to the Caribbean Sea, Rio Dulce River is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination near Belize. Visit the three-story Castillo de San Felipe de Lara fort, kayak the canyon of the Rio Dulce and the biotopo del manati, discover the biodiverse wetlands of the Reserva Bocas del Polochic, and check out the bird island of Cayo Quemado and stop at the hot waterfalls of Agua Caliente. Sail on the quiet Rio Dulce river on board your own private boat charter, and if you wish, you can extend your trip to Belizean cities such as Placencia, Punta Gorda, Mokey River Town or Seine Bight.
Adventurous Activities in and near Quiriguá
Quiriguá and its surrounding towns are home to hundreds of tropical and migratory bird species. Visitors will enjoy bird watching while exploring the magnificent intricately carved stelae, sculptures, altars and zoomorphs. You can expect to see Amazilia rutila, Grey-throated chat, Wedge-tailed sabrewing, Ocellated turkey, Resplendent Quetzal, Horned Guan, White-bellied Wren, Rose-throated Tanager, Euphonia hirundinacea, and black cowbird to name a few. If you crave to learn more about ancient Mayan history is not yet fulfilled, you can plan a tour to Antigua, Tikal and Yaxhá sites. Explore the Candelaria Caves and great Rio Dulce River of Guatemala. Kayaking and canoing are great activities enjoyed by tourists to the Rio Dulce River and Rio Dulce town. You can even enjoy kayaking on the quiet waters of the Motagua River. Swim canyons of the Rio Dulce River, don headlamps to explore uncharted caves, and soak under hot waterfalls. Diving and snorkeling can be enjoyed near the area where the Rio Dulce River meets the Caribbean Sea. It is best for you take your own private yacht or catamaran charter to the southern coast of Belize such as Placencia, Seine Bight and other nearby cayes for diving and snorkeling excursions. Fishing can be enjoyed in the Motuga River as well as the Rio Dulce River. Expect to catch snook, perch, catfish and other river fish species.
Dining and Shopping in and near Quiriguá
Besides exploring the ruins, there is really not much to do in Quiriguá but you can enjoy delicious foods at Posada de Quirigua. You can visit other restaurants near Quiriguá for exploring Guatemalan dishes such as Restaurante Rosita in Rio Dulce; Texaco La Ruidosa in Izabal; The Restaurant at Tortugal in Rio Dulce; Restaurante Ranchon Mary in Livingston; Hotel Back Packers Restaurant Rio Dulce; Restaurante Jocelyn in Rio Dulce; and Cafeteria Delimax in Izabal among others. There aren’t many shopping option available here, so you have to visit nearby towns for buying little souvenirs. Some of the popular stores in Rio Dulce town are Comercial W & L, Agromar, Tienda Road, Pintorsa, The Baby World, Zapateria eltigre, and Tienda La Surtidora just to name a few. In Livingston, there are many small shops and you can buy lots of touristy items. Do visit Peurto Barrios' only supermarket named Despensa Familiar.
Quiriguá is a major Mayan tourist site in Guatemala because of its huge sculptures and detailed carved stelae. At Yachts Belize, we provide customized trips to Quiriguá and its surrounding destinations. We offer day trips from Quiriguá to Rio Dulce, Livingston, Puerto Barrios and other nearby sites. We also help you plan diving excusions to Belizean cayes and atolls. Our expert charter consultants will assist you in planning your charter itinerary so that you can enjoy unspoiled beauty of Quiriguá and experience some of the many adventurous activities. Contact us to plan your yachting excursion today. We look forward to creating a customized itinerary just for you.