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Guides Corner: Maya World - A Glimpse into the Natural and Human History of Belize

Altun Ha Altun Ha
The Maya World -  A Glimpse into the Natural and Human History of Belize
By Jack Wilde

When we think of “Civilization we often imagine it as distinct from “Nature”. But the earliest civilization in Central America was immersed in the natural world. Only remnants of this ancient civilization remain, swallowed up by jungle and forest. But the jungle is rich in wildlife, and tourism plays a vital role in maintaining both the natural places and the remains of human settlement.

An excellent way to immerse yourself in this human and natural history is to add the Maya World Extension to your Island Expeditions' adventure.  The immersion begins at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, a birder's paradise. Crooked Tree Lagoon is a marshy lake which fills up during the rainy season and slowly shrinks through the dry season. Here you can see many species of tropical and migratory birds, swimming in the lake or wading along its marshy shores.  During the dry season the male green iguana displays his prowess by climbing the bushes over the water and turning a burnished copper colour. The males are easy to spot, and if you look closely, you may see several of the smaller and greener females hanging out in nearby branches, waiting for a chance to mate, and to produce a new generation of iguanas.

The highlight of this package is a day trip by boat up the New River, to the archeological site of Lamanai. For a detailed description of the Lamanai excursion, see the follow-up story.

The trip back to Belize City includes a visit to another Mayan site called Altun Ha. This temple complex is well-studied and fully excavated: well worth a visit. When you go home, you will take with you the memories of the rich and varied life and history of this amazing country of Belize.

In my next post we will go on a day trip to Lamanai...