With access to its ancient
temples limited to those with the
ability to cross Corozal Bay, the
ancient Maya site of Cerros has
remained well off the beaten
path for tourists and Belizeans
alike. But officials are betting
that new improvements for
visitors will open the attraction to wider exposure.
Jose Sanchez took the trip and returned with the
"One of the treasures of Northern Belize is a Mayan
site, protected by the tranquil waters of the Corozal
bay. Cerros Maya Archaeology Reserve has entertained
only a few hundred visitors a year, but recent
infrastructural developments intend to attract tourist
dollars to a ruin that was once a thriving Mayan
Rosita May, President, BTIA-Corozal
"As people in the tourism industry, our interest and
commitment to our area has always been the
development of the tourism product. We saw Cerros
as a perfect attraction that should have been
developed and enhanced, therefore we got involved in
this particular project. It took us a number of years to
be able to carry it out since as you know, Cerros has
been sort of left alone for too long and nobody trusted
that it would profit to spend money here or time and
But one organisation who believed in BTIA's vision is
the Protected Areas Conservation Trust. PACT has
issued a grant of thirty-four thousand dollars to make
the site more accessible and organised for everyone.
Emelda Lizarraga, Programme Officer
"What we do is give funding to protect and also to
conserve protected areas, and archaeology reserves
are protected areas. Therefore when a project like the
Cerros project comes into our office, we review it and
we see what are the needs of the site and then if it
falls into our criteria then we could fund it."
"This project was basically to achieve the
construction of the visitor centre, the construction of
the picnic pavilion, and the improvement of the trails.
We opened new trail areas and we did some
promotional materials for Cerros."
BTIA and PACT were not the only stakeholders in the
venture. The government has taken the responsibility
for its maintenance. With eight laborers and two
guides, the management of the site has been trusted
to the Archaeology Department.
Yashin Dujon, Director of Parks and Personnel
"The Department of Archaeology is the governing body
for the archaeology reserves throughout Belize. And
particularly here in Cerros, this was a long awaited
project, the building of the tourist centre and the
pavilion to accommodate tourists that we get coming
across from Corozal."
"In the past when you wanted to come to Cerros you
had to look for fishermen somewhere with his little
dory. Today we have a number of licensed boats that
are doing tours to Cerros and it's simply because
people see the potential in the area, therefore they
have invested money on their boats. So today we
have different boats that bring people to Cerros and I
must say that the number of visitors has definitely
increased since this area has developed."