Perhaps the most fascinating Maya site in northern Belize, Lamanai (admission BZ$10; 8am-5pm) lies 24 miles south of Orange Walk Town up the New River (or 36 miles by unpaved road). The ruins are known both for their impressive architecture and marvelous setting, surrounded by dense jungle overlooking the New River Lagoon. Most visitors approach Lamanai by guided river trip from Orange Walk not just to avoid the long and bumpy road, but to take advantage of the river trip itself, which goes deep into the home of the countless colorful and unusual birds that live in the area. Most guides who do the 1½-hour river trip are experts in both archaeology and the area’s wildlife, making it an especially worthwhile experience. The river voyage passes through some of the most beautiful jungle and lagoon country in northern Belize, and the Mennonite community of Shipyard, before reaching Lamanai itself. There are a number of excellent tour guides in Orange Walk who specialize in the journey.