Route of the Maya

Remnants of the Maya civilization are scattered across Central America in an ancient, 1,500-mile-long trade ring known as La Ruta Maya. Sylvia and I took Overseas Adventure Travel's tour along this path.

— This account was compiled by Denise Baylis with help from other tourists.

San Salvador

Plaza Gerardo Barrios
Plaza Gerardo Barrios

We flew on an United Airlines Business Class to Houston and then San Salvador thanks to Doug who found the fare. Everyone's luggage made it except for Margaret and Greg's. Luckily they were veteran travelers and had their essential items with them; their luggage arrived the next day.

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Joya de Cerén

Temescal
Temescal

Joya de Cerén is aptly nicknamed the “Pompeii of the Americas,” because—like Pompeii—it features remarkably intact dwellings that were preserved for centuries after being buried under 20 feet of volcanic ash from an eruption of the Laguna Caldera volcano.

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Copán

Ball court
Ball court

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, Copán is Honduras' most significant pre-Columbian site and the most elaborate of all Maya cities, earning it the title “Athens of the Maya World.”

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Guatemala City

Garbage dump
Garbage dump

We visited the Safe Passage School (Camino Seguro) in one of Guatemala City's poorest neighborhoods. In this area surrounding the city's garbage dump, countless families are forced to make a living by picking through endless piles of trash, looking for anything of value they can resell.

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Sololá

Julio and His Kites
Julio and His Kites

We departed overland for Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. We stopped at the small Kaqchikel Mayan mountain village of Sumpango where we met Julio at the school where he is a teacher. He is one of the founders of the local kite festival," Giant Kite Festival where over 80,000 people come to view the elaborate kites.

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Panajachel

Lake Atitlán
Lake Atitlán

Panajachel is situated on the north east shore of Lake Atitlán. The lake sits at 5,000 feet above sea level, and is encircled by three towering volcanoes—San Pedro, Toliman, and Atitlán.

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Antigua Guatemala

After breakfast most people opted for the optional Canopy & Hanging Bridges tour at the Atitlán Nature Reserve, a 247-acre reserve located between the lakeshore and the road from Solola.

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Jocotenango

Eggs for Sale
Eggs for Sale

We began today's cultural discoveries by walking to the local market. Along the way Luis contacted local people. The first was a woman operating a stand at a busy corner bus stop selling fresh squeezed juice, hard-boiled eggs, snacks and newspapers [mostly the 'Nuestro Diario', local version of the National Enquirer] to commuters.

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Tikal

We left early in the morning so that we arrived at the park when it opened at 9 am. we stopped on the way to look at a diorama of the Tikal site at a store. [had fabulous boots for $50, too small] The drive to Tikal, located in the Peten jungle, took over an hour. Once in the park, it was another ½ hour to the park grounds through a nice road cut through limestone and rain forest.

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Yaxhá

Yaxha, Guatemala
Yaxha, Guatemala

Another early departure as we headed to Yaxhá. The site was the setting for the television reality series “Survivor: Guatemala,” which has been good for the local economy and has encouraged more tourism to this relatively obscure site.

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Lamanai

Lamanai Mayan Ruins
Lamanai Mayan Ruins

After breakfast in Belize City, we met our guide Nathaniel, for Lamanai. As we headed north to Orange Walk Town we took a tour of Belize City but the reality is that there is not much to see even if the weather was good. It was slow going this morning as the rain had switched to a torrent. At the bank of the New River we picked up our boat for the 26 miles ride to Lamanai.

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