Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Travel Secrets -

You know… Chichen Itza, Mex­ico

Ev­ery year, the Maya tem­ple com­plex of Chichen Itza cites new record num­bers. Some 2.2 mil­lion peo­ple now visit the site in Mex­ico’s Yu­catán Peninsula each year, and while its stepped pyra­mids are breath­tak­ing, the vol­ume of tourists can make it an en­ergy-sap­ping day.

But what about… Cara­col, Belize

By com­par­i­son, the jun­gle ru­ins of Belize’s an­cient Maya city of Cara­col re­ceives barely a trickle of vis­i­tors. Its foot­print spans nearly 200 sq km – big­ger than the cap­i­tal, Belize City – and set deep in the dense rain­for­est nudg­ing the Gu­atemalan bor­der, it can be tricky to reach. From the near­est hub San Ig­na­cio, it’s a three-hour 4WD jour­ney through the Moun­tain Pine Ridge For­est Re­serve, prowled by cougars, jaguars and Baird’s tapirs.

The site was one of the largest of the Maya world in its hey­day, home to 35,000 build­ings. Climb the Ca’ana tem­ple (43m), said to be the largest man-made struc­ture in Belize, and the canopy-bait­ing Ob­ser­va­tory. Spy the ‘ball courts’, where games were played to de­ter­mine who was to be sac­ri­ficed to the gods, and pon­der how some­thing so huge could only be dis­cov­ered by chance by a ma­hogany log­ger in 1938.

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