Central America’s geography, culture and history is one of the most diverse and colorful in the world which can make deciding where to go and what to do somewhat difficult. To help you find a solution, we’ve trawled through our favorite Central America destinations and come up with our favorite and highlight destinations that shouldn’t be missed off your Central America itinerary. Of course, there are plenty more unmissable destinations in Central America and we’ll be sure to explore these in further detail in the weeks to come.
♦ The Maya Jungles of the Cayo District, Belize
The Cayo District is home to some of the most incredible destinations in all of Belize. Two of the most important sites in the area are Xunantunich and Caracol. Xunantunich is an ancient Maya archaeological site that once served as a civic ceremonial center. Its name, which means ¨Stone Woman¨, refers to the ghost of a woman that many claim inhabit the site – ascending the stone stairs before disappearing into a stone wall. The longest established archaeological site in Belize, the site consists of three ceremonial plazas, houses, pyramids, and palaces. One of the highlights has to be climbing to the top of the pyramid ¨El Castillo¨, the second tallest man-made structure in Belize, where you can see spectacular views that reach as far as Guatemala.
Approximately 25 miles south of Xunantunich is the largest Maya archaeological site in Belize, Caracol. Once covering an area much larger than present day Belize City and home to over 140,000 people, Caracol´s history goes back as far as 1200 BC. The main pyramid in Caracol ¨Caana¨ which means ¨Sky Palace¨ includes 4 palaces and 3 temples and currently holds the title of the tallest building in Belize.
♦ Costa Rica’s Explosive Beauty in Arenal
Standing proudly in the Arenal Volcano Natural Park amidst a backdrop of lush forest is one of the greatest natural wonders of Costa Rica. One of the six active volcanoes in the country, the Arenal Volcano is the most famous of them all. This is in part because it is the most recently active of around 70 volcanoes in Costa Rica, forming an intimate relationship with the people living around it due to its once daily effusions of smoke and lava. Having been dormant since 2010, travelers have been rushing to the park to enjoy the hiking trails, raft in the surrounding rivers, and relax in the hot springs around the volcano. With such a diverse assortment of adventure activities and an abundance of natural beauty, Arenal is a must for anyone visiting Costa Rica.
♦ Exploring Mayan Culture at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
One of the most beautiful lakes in the world, the volcanic Lake Atitlan is a national treasure in Guatemala. Atitlan, meaning “All the Water” is the deepest lake in Central America with depths reaching up to 1,120ft. The lake was originally formed by a volcanic eruption 84,000 years ago that was so big, ash was found from Florida to Ecuador! The three volcanoes that flank the lake make for an awe inspiring scene that is unlike anything else on the planet.
Around Lake Atitlan there is plenty to see and explore. From touring the volcanoes, hiking, bird watching, kayaking, or visiting the small villages that surround the lake, visitors have been known to extend their stay in order to take in the peaceful scenery and laid back atmosphere.
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