Mayan date with destiny


As I bounce along in the jeep towards Tikal National Park, I pass farmers leading burros packed high with firewood. A predicted 150,000 Mayans once thrived inside jungle of Tikal. They built 100s of structures and also a maze of stairways connected by roads and crowned with stone pyramids. Their staircases are extremely steep that an ascent is actually like mountaineering. The Mayans’ population peaked about 800 AD, the civilisation inexplicably begun to decline then , by 1000 AD, Tikal was abandoned.

Conspiracy theorists plus the History Channel have spent the past five-years warning which a similar fate awaits us, with different prediction built into the Mayan calendar the fact that world as you may know it’s going to end on December 21, 2012.

As with Nostradamus’s predictions, the Mayan prophecies have flourished over the internet age. Will planet earth stop spinning? Reverse direction? Get sucked into another galaxy? Or be annihilated in nuclear conflagration? The anticipation is fuelling doomsday tourism; like surfers who flock to shore with the rumour of a tidal wave, travellers are arriving in increasing numbers at Tikal to view the civilisation that predicted the end of the whole world, before it’s gone.

DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge, an attractive bed and breakfast during the jungle near Tikal about the Belize side of your border, has created a five-day “Apocalypto” tour on December 18-22, 2012. The lodge owners came on the top of a definite plus: December 22, 2012, the primary post-apocalypse night, in the event it exists, is provided for free.

“We came here to view what the excitement was,” says Debbie Long, an American traveller I meet in the ruins. “We read books concerning the Mayan calendar but here you will see how they made these predictions. That is what I so love here – you will notice history yourself.”

The Mayan civilisation is credited with creating a host of advanced technologies, cover anything from mathematics (where the number 0 was implemented prior to other cultures), astronomy (with both calendars and predictions of astronomical events) in addition to a sophisticated use of hieroglyphics that scientists today still hope to decipher. Textiles were created from cotton and paper from tree bark. A great number of activities are usually the result of sophisticated Mayan agricultural practices, whichfreed time for their scientific and religious pursuits.

Known for early advancement of written words and astronomy, Mayan culture is highlighted as of this ancient site, which attracts scholars, students and explorers spanning various ages.

The Mayan calendar prophesies have prompted local tour operators and hotels to upgrade their helps. El Camino Real, a luxury hotel near to the Tikal ruins, arranges storytelling evenings with Mayan elders, including explanations of your doomsday prophecy. Mayan recipes are now being resurrected and appearing on restaurant menus. “I come from the restaurant side,” says the manager of El Camino Real, Xavier Duc. “So My business is completely redoing the menu – dining out in the area, meeting the older females and asking what ingredients they prefer, what traditional dishes we can easily use in our menus.”

With heightened interest in the Mayan calendar, travellers are hiking into the hinterlands to understand more about El Mirador, a complex twice how big Tikal and not extensively mapped up until the 1980s, while using largest pyramid while in the Americas. Getting there involves a helicopter charter and a two-day hike or a one-day horse ride from your main entrance to Tikal National Park.

Mayan cities – and Tikal is just about the largest – are wonders of engineering and craftsmanship. Resembling futuristic spaceships, the temples, palaces and plazas rise with the jungle. Lots of Tikal remains a mysterious, for big swathes within the estimated 6000 hectares thought to comprise the residential area of the city have yet to be excavated or even mapped fully.

At the centre of Tikal’s ruins would be the Great Plaza, a sophisticated of stone buildings, including steep pyramids that soar over 70 metres from thick jungle. These pyramids were chosen for human sacrifice: because victim happened down, a priest opened up his chest and removed the beating heart. Sportsmen utilizing seven ball courts were also sacrificed before crowds of spectators.

Temple 1, better known as the Temple of your Great Jaguar, was built about 700 AD and also over the subsequent century another three temples were included in the truly amazing Plaza. Lost from the jungle until excavation began inside the 1850s, the complex was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979.

The rapid collapse within the Mayan civilisation, within Two centuries on the peak of the company’s population growth, have been the main topic of much academic research and debate, variously related to warfare or deforestation leading to degradation of soils, less-efficient farming, hunger including a spiral of a lot more serious environmental collapse.

Richard Hansen, a US archaeologist who’s got spent decades researching and excavating ruins within Tikal, believes habitat destruction triggered the end of an awesome civilisation. Massive levels of firewood was required to burn the limestone to earn a cement-like stucco traditionally used within the pyramids. Forests were razed, which changed the patterns of rainfall, producing ruined crops and famine. This theory draws on evidence that this stucco became increasingly thin since the Mayan empire entered decline.

Today, the forest has grown back – the Guatemalan jungle devours just about everything. What remains at Tikal are tantalising fragments of your society that developed a timeless ideal of aesthetic beauty. So timeless, that if director George Lucas wanted to depict a rebel base with the super star Wars IV – A brand new Hope, he searched worldwide a great ideal futuristic buildings and selected the temples of Tikal.

Jonathan Franklin stayed due to El Camino Real Tikal.


Getting there

Delta Airlines flies low-season get back to Guatemala City for approximately $2883 from Sydney and $2983 from Melbourne (connecting in Sydney), flying non-stop to California (13hr 45min) then changing aircraft to Guatemala City (4hr 40min). The one-hour flight to Flores on Aviateca Airlines costs about $163 a method. From Flores, the Tikal ruins certainly are a 90-minute drive. Guatemala has one of several highest crime rates in Central America; authorities advise the effective use of the official tour guide or tour group to Tikal National Park together with other tourist sites.

For tours to El Mirador, see

Staying there

El Camino Real Tikal is actually a five-star hotel beside Lake Peten Itza, with customised tours and Mayan food. Rooms from $US100 ($111), see

La Casa de Don David is a small hotel also on Lake Peten Itza with efficient bilingual staff. Rooms from $US60, see

Jungle Lodge, inside Tikal National Park, is a 10-minute walk towards the ruins, allowing morning and evening viewing. Rooms from $US100, see

Casa Americas fronts Lake Peten Itza. Its staff have extensive hitting the ground with local culture and may also offer Language classes or week-long guided excursions. Rooms from $US40, see

Duplooy’s Jungle Lodge consistantly improves jungle of Belize, about two hours’ drive from Tikal. Rooms from $US180, see

In the region

The lovely provincial area of Antigua, about 45 minutes’ drive from Guatemala City, can be so quaint and traditional which the spoken Spanish we have found considered to be among the many clearest worldwide. There are many than 100 Language schools during this payday loan lenders graceful colonial buildings. El Convento Boutique, extra hotel near an 18th-century convent, is a great base, with beautiful colonial-style rooms from $US190, see For much more modest budgets, the stylish Hotel Posada del Hermano Pedro has double rooms from $US85, see

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