Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ten Places to Visit in the Mundo Maya Before December 2012

On December 21, 2012, the remarkable timekeeping machine that is the Maya Long Count calendar will reset itself to zero, thus marking the end of the current era that began in 3114 BC and heralding the start of a new creation cycle. This auspicious event will no doubt spark interest in all things Maya next year. It should also bring a lot of travelers to the Mundo Maya (Maya World), which encompasses the Mexican state of Chiapas, the Yucatán Peninsula, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador.

There are so many rewarding places to visit in the Mundo Maya that it's difficult to know where to begin. However, here is a list of ten destinations that I can definitely recommend seeing before the dawning of the new age (or the end of the world as some doomsayers predict).

Please click on the photos to view captions and larger versions.

Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Sequestered in the jungle of southern Mexico, Palenque is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the ancient Maya cities.

Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, Mexico

Chichén Itzá, the grandest archaeological site on the Yucatán Peninsula, has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico

The handsome Spanish colonial city of Mérida, capital of the state of Yucatán, remains one of the most intriguing and culturally rich cities in the Mundo Maya.

Cobá, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Weathered monuments and a jungle setting make Cobá one of the most atmospheric archaelogical sites in the Mundo Maya.

Tikal, Guatemala

The grandeur of Tikal's towering temples is unmatched in the Mundo Maya.

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

The misty mountain town of Chichicastenango is home to the largest indigenous market in the Mundo Maya.

Antigua, Guatemala

With its backdrop of towering volcanoes and handsome Spanish colonial architecture, Antigua is arguably the most alluring town in the Mundo Maya.

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Mesmerizing Lago de Atitlán is said to be the deepest lake in Central America. British writer Aldous Huxley called Atitlán "the most beautiful lake in the world."

Copán, Honduras

The ancient Maya city of Copán in Western Honduras has been dubbed the "Athens of the New World" because of its magnificent sculptures.

Lamanai, Belize

A boat trip up the New River in Northern Belize to the isolated Maya ruins of Lamanai is a true jungle adventure.

Also check out my review of the new MOON MAYA 2012: A Guide to Celebrations in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize & Honduras


MicheleinPlaya said...

I have had the pleasure of visiting all but Copan. I guess I better put that at the top of the list!

John Mitchell said...

Definitely visit Copan. Both the archaeological site and the adjacent sculpture museum are amazing. ¡Feliz viaje! -JM