Beyond Independence, the Southern Highway leaves the banana plantations, first twisting through pine forests, crossing numerous creeks and rivers, and arriving in the sparsely populated Toledo District, Belize’s least developed region. Here, the Mopan and Kekchi, the country’s two main Maya groups, comprise almost half the population. About 73km from the Placencia junction lies Nim Li Punit (daily 9am–5pm; Bz$10), a Late Classic Maya site, possibly allied to nearby Lubaantun and to Quiriguá in Guatemala. The ruins stand on top of a ridge, surrounded by the fields of the nearby Maya village of Indian Creek. The visitors’ centre has a good map of the site and explanations of some of the carved texts found here, which include eight stelae, among them Stela 15, at over 9m the tallest yet found in Belize. The site is only 1km off the highway, making it an easy day-trip from Punta Gorda.

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