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Mayan Sites

Belize and Guatemala's Peten are the center of the Mayan world. Some have said that every square foot of Belize is a Maya archaeological site. Almost everywhere you look there are remnants of this once great civilization.

Luis Godoy is Mayan. His family descended from the same people who built and thrived in the Maya cities that Belize is so famous for. His upbringing was steeped in Mayan tradition, lore, medicine, and practices.

Luis participated in the excavation of some of the Mayan sites and has both worked and volunteered for the Belize Department of Archaeology. He has also passed all the available Maya-related tour guide certification training. That gives him both a personal and professional perspective on the ancient Maya - a perspective that he openly shares with visitors.

A visit to any of the Mayan sites with Luis is truly an insight into the ancient world of the Maya.

The guides that Luis employs have to meet the stringent requirements laid down by the country of Belize. More importantly they have to prove themselves to Luis.

Xunantunich

This frequently visited site in Western Belize sits close to the border with Guatemala. Restoration of spectacular hieroglyphics loom on a high acropolis that also sports an imposing staircase overlooking a grand central plaza.

Your guide will help you explore and understand the site and its significance in the Mayan trade route associated with the Mopan river. Crossing the Mopan by hand-cranked ferry is one of the highlights of your visit to this important site.

Caracol

While Tikal (in nearby Guatemala) is often regarded as the "premiere" Maya site, Caracol is, in many ways, its equal. Glyphs here tell us that Caracol once defeated Tikal in battle.

This sprawling site sits deep in the Chiquibul Forest in Western Belize, far from any current human development. Travel here (on a newly improved road) is full immersion into the natural world of Belize, as you pass through multiple ecosystems. Watch for exciting wildlife on your journey!

Caracol is a massive complex - and your guides from Belize Nature Travel will help you understand both the importance of the human development here and the complexity of the natural world around you.

Don't miss this site!

Tikal

Tikal is widely acknowledged as the "must visit" site in the Mayan world. Located near Belize in Peten, Guatemala, Tikal is easily accessed on a long single day trip from Belize. Or, ask Belize Nature Travel to arrange an overnight near Tikal or even within the site boundaries!

Tikal is a huge Maya site that sits in a biosphere reserve full of great wildlife and awesome forest specimens. You can spend a full day exploring this site without seeing all the spectacular excavated structures.

Belize Nature Guides has dedicated Guatemala guides and vehicles to facilitate your visit. They have a lot to tell you about both the ancient city and the amazing flora and fauna of the biosphere reserve.

This is a must-see Maya site - and your trip to Belize puts you in the perfect position to go there. Further, Belize Nature Travel has worked out all the logistics of crossing the border and having quality interpretation in Tikal.

Yaxhá

Yaxhá is an amazing "freshly prepped" Mayan site just across the border from Belize in Guatemala. Restoration is newly complete - but still ongoing. The only thing it lacks are crowds!

The architecture of this site will astound you - and there are several opportunities to climb to the top of a temple and look down on other temples or to see how this city was built adjacent to nearaby natural lakes.

This is a great place to find wildlife. And an even greater place to witness the how strangler figs do their magic to take over a space in the forest.

Cahal Pech

Cahal Pech is often overlooked by the groups headed to "big name" Mayan sites - which gives you a great opportunity to quietly wander among the artifacts and ghosts of the ancient Maya.

The site is noted for its many doorways, the only known moat associated with a Mayan city, and its many staircases.

Your Belize Nature Travel guide can tell you about the excavations here - and the way the city fit into the ancient Maya world.

El Pilar

While most archaeological excavations in the Mayan region have focused on searching for tombs and uncovering great pyramids, Dr. Anabel Ford researched El Pilar with an eye toward understanding how the individual family lived in a Mayan development.

El Pilar, straddling the border between Belize and Guatemala, is covered with rainforest - and the best place to go to understand what the common people lived like. How was the house constructed? What was planted in the garden?

It's a great place to find chocolate and vanilla growing in the wild. Learn about cohune palms, and the role they played in the Mayan garden and household.

It's here that you can come to understand the relationships between the Mayans and their natural environment - the good things they did - and the things that went wrong. This is the perfect place to explore with Belize Nature Travel - our guides will help you grasp the issues these amazing people faced and let you find your own parallels with the issues modern society faces.

This site was produced by Bob Harvey and Diane Kelsay of Nature Photography Adventures on behalf of Luis Godoy. All images on this site are protected by international copyright laws. Unauthorized use is prohibited.