Visiting El Pilar
El Pilar Archeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna is a place of
imagination that welcomes adventurers, scholars, and conservationists.
There is a nominal entrance fee. Tickets can be purchased from the
ranger’s station at the site or at the central ticketing museum at the
Cahal Pech site in San Ignacio.
When to Go
To take advantage of cooler temperatures, it is best to go early in
the morning. You can spend half a day seeing the core of the
monuments, a whole day seeing the nearby trails of the site, or many
days exploring the reserve.
If it is the rainy season (June to January), expect rain, although some days are spectacular and clear.
The Maya Forest is lush and exuberant. If you go during the dry season
(February to May), you have the benefit of no rain and can experience the beautiful blossoming Bukut Tree in March, Madre Cacao in April,
or Mayflower in May. If you are very fortunate, you will experience
the Uo frogs announcing the start of the rains in May or June.
How to Get There
From Cayo, Belize
El Pilar is approximately 11 kilometers northwest of the village Bullet Tree Falls, just outside the town of San Ignacio. An official Institute of Archaeology “El Pilar” sign in Bullet Tree marks the all-weather dirt road that leads north to the site. You can arrive at the site by tour, taxi, rented car, mountain bike, horse, or foot. The road is uphill and unshaded, so bring plenty of water regardless of transport.
A taxi from Bullet Tree should cost about US$30 to and from the site. The driver will wait as you explore. By car, the trip is about 30 minutes from Bullet Tree. You can rent mountain bikes or horses from places in Bullet Tree or San Ignacio. Tour guides familiar with the site can be a wonderful experience. Tony Chuc and Luis Godoy are great examples.
From Melchor, Guatemala
Access to El Pilar is improving based on the road to Laguna Yaloch, north of El Pilar. With archaeologists now working at the site, caretakers are present, but road signs are scarce. The drive is approximately 30 kilometers on an all-weather dirt road, used in the dry season for trucking lumber (watch out!). It will be difficult to drive in the rainy season. It is best to take a guide to know the cutoff to the east in a beautiful corozo palm forest.
You do not need a local guide to explore the site. There is an excellent map and trail guide available online as well as
in bookstores in Belize. However, many knowledgeable local guides can bring their knowledge to your visit, in addition to the site caretakers.
One tour company with a unique relationship to El Pilar is Keep It Secret…Belize, run by Tony and Erica Chuc of Bullet Tree Falls. Anthony is a licensed tour guide, and Erica did excavations at El Pilar with the BRASS team in the 1990s. Their rate is US$25 per person for a tour of El Pilar, minimum two people. This includes transportation to and from the site. The visitor pays the park entrance fee. The company offers river rafting and tubing, separately or combined with a tour of El Pilar, and pick up and drop off at the airport. Their contact information is:
Phone from out of Belize 011-501-668-6060
Phone within Belize 668-6060
Alternative cell phone 667-6060