January 2012

Jungle Kingdoms of the Maya

Melanie and I had never taken a guided tour prior to taking the Jungle Kingdoms of the Maya with the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). All of our previous trips had been self planned and done on our own. I was curious to see what it would be like to take a trip where a professional made all the arrangements for us. Our tour had 24 participants, and over the course of our journey I was able to have at least one conversation with all of them, and I was delighted to find such interesting people! Everyone was interested in exploring the Mayan ruins, listening to the lectures by Bruce Love, our leader/archaeologist. Most everyone else had traveled extensively throughout the world (Bob had visited 62 countries, Gene had been to 59). I really enjoyed talking to them about all the places they had seen - Lake Bikal! Jordan! Machu Picchu! Cambodia! Tanzania! Pretty much any where on earth. It really inspired me to continue traveling. It has occurred to me recently that this really is a golden era for global travel - other than conflict in the Middle East and some spots in Africa, most of the world is at peace and eager to welcome tourists. I hope to spend the next 25 years or so taking advantage of this era of tourism and see as much of the world as I can. After this trip, I definitely want to return to Central America and see more Mayan sites. I also would be happy to take another trip led by AIA.

When we were exploring the Lost World section of Tikal, I asked Carlos (our guide in Guatemala and Honduras) if he would take a group photograph of all of us standing in front of the Great Pyramid. This turned out to be a popular suggestion, and soon Carlos had been handed 20 cameras! He was a great sport about it, and willing took a picture on each camera. The above photo is how mine turned out.

Here is a map of our route - three new countries for me to visit!

Saturday: January 21

Fly from Seattle to Houston

Fly from Houston to Villahermosa

Stay at Hyatt Villahermosa

Sunday: January 22

Visit Olmec site of La Venta

Guided tour of La Venta Museum

Stay at Hyatt Villahermosa

Monday: January 23

Visit La Venta Park

Afternoon introductory visit to Palenque

Stay at Chan Kah Resort Village

Tuesday: January 24

Guided tour of Palenque (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Palenque Museum

Stay at Chan Kah Resort Village

Wednesday: January 25

Morning bird watching

Afternoon visit to Bonampak

Stay at Escudo Jaguar Lodge

Thursday: January 26

1 Hour boat ride down Usumacinta River

Guided tour of Yaxchilan

Stay at Escudo Jaguar Lodge

Friday: January 27

1 Hour boat ride up Usumacinta River

Enter into Guatemala

Afternoon introductory visit to Tikal

Stay at Jungle Lodge

Saturday: January 28

Guided tour of Tikal (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Stay at Jungle Lodge

Sunday: January 29

Climb to Temple IV for sunrise view

Tour Tikal Museum

Lunch at Isle of Flores

Boat ride to Catamaran Island Hotel

Monday: January 30

Tour of Quirigua

Enter into Honduras

Stay at Hotel Marina Copan

Tuesday: January 31

Guided tour of Copan

Visit to Sepulturas area of Copan

Farewell talk and souvenir display

Stay at Hotel Marina Copan

Wednesday: February 1

Fly from San Pedro Sula to Houston

Fly from Houston to Seattle

Thursday: February 2

Friday: February 3

Click on the three icons below to open up the first three pages of the original flyer that AIA sent out for our Jungle Kingdoms of the Maya tour.

Jungle Kingdoms of the Maya file Jungle Kingdoms of the Maya file Jungle Kingdoms of the Maya file

Click on the AIA logo to visit their website. I would definitely do another trip with them.

I found Maya Ruins and Authentic Maya to be a useful website. I also used the Moon Handbook on the Yucatan, and the following reference books:

All the graphic images are my own design, but the textured background is taken from a site, EOS development, that offers non-profit users free use of their graphics. Click below to visit their site.

Eos Development