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A New Beginning - The December 21, 2012 Maya Winter Solstice



This Friday at the stroke of solstice (4:12 a.m. Mountain Standard Time), the Maya Long Count calendar will complete the cycle of the 13th B'ad'tun. If you follow Maya prophesy, this is supposed to be the end of the world as we know it.  The modern Maya scoff at this prediction and will tell you that this event marks a new beginning and a chance to leave the past behind.  It is a time of hope and renewal.

Here is an interesting article which gives a simple overview on this pivotal time of reflection and renewal in the Mayan culture.  Maya Calendar 101: What Does 'December 21, 2012' Really Mean?

As the world watches and waits with curiosity and excitement, there has been a lot of interest generated in the Mesoamerican countries occupied by the Mayan civilization - Belize, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.  The  Mundo Maya  is an informative  cooperative tourism website about this momentous event, highlighting Mayan destinations, archaeology and events in these five countries.

So in celebration of this event (and in appreciation of all things Maya), we wanted to share some of our favorite Mayan experiences in Belize.


1. Lamanai - Magnificent Maya ruins surrounded by high canopy rainforest , accessible with a boat journey on a tropical river.
The ancient Mayan city of Lamanai is on the New River Lagoon.  Lamanai, which roughly translates to ‘Submerged Crocodile’, was one of the most important trading and ceremonial centers in the Caribbean lowlands. Occupied for over 3000 years, from 1500 BC until 1600 AD, the ruins are unique as they illuminate a period of history that encompasses the early formative years of Mayan civilization through to initial European contact and colonization.

With structures ranging from pre-classic temples to the Spanish colonial-era, jungle trails, refreshing swimming holes, and an excellent on-site museum, Lamanai is one of the most charming of all the Mayan sites in Belize.  As you travel by river boat to the ruins, enjoy tremendous birding and wildlife viewing opportunities, including  iguana, parrots, toucan, aracari, and Morelet’s crocodile.

Maya World Extension
Maya Reef Explorer - Lighthouse
Maya Reef Explorer - Glovers

2. Remote Rainforest Villages of the Maya Heartland - Modern Mayans living ancient traditions
Travel into the 'wild south' of Belize, the homeland of the Kekchi and Mopan Maya. Here village life in Santa Theresa and other small Mayan villages is little changed from generations past.  In this untouched region, traditional milpa agriculture is still the way of life, and the modern world is only just beginning to make inroads.  Travelling in this region and spending time with the Mayan people provides a fascinating insight into contemporary Mayan culture.

Ultimate Adventure
Wild South

3. Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave - Journey into the Mayan Underworld

Ancient Mayan ceremonies and superstitions, human remains, water-filled passages and more.  The cave is most famous for the more than 1400 artifacts that remain untouched in their original state.  Swim and hike in clear water pools, then enter an underworld cavern  and discover  ancient Mayan  pottery shards, bone fragments, skulls...and the  'crystal maiden'; a skeleton calcified into the stone sandstone.

Ultimate Adventure

4. Altun Ha - One of the classic Mayan ruins 
 Altun Ha is an important Classic Period Mayan site situated to take advantage of the trading that occurred between the people living by the waters of the Caribbean and those dwelling in the deep interior of the Mayan Civilization. Though quite small in size, Altun Ha is one of the most excavated ruins in Belize.  This ancient city and  trading center is famous mainly for a large jade head, representing the sun god Kinich Ahau, that was discovered in the central temple. This head is the largest Mayan jade artifact discovered to date,

Maya World Extension
Maya Reef Explorer - Lighthouse
Maya Reef Explorer - Glovers

Join us for an adventure, and let us take you to the Maya.