The World of the Maya, meaning Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras, made CNN’s list of the World’s Top Destinations for 2012 the network announced Tuesday. CNN’s editors relied on recommendations from four travel experts: Robert Reid, U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet; Martin Rapp, senior vice president of leisure sales at Altour; Anne Banas, executive editor at SmarterTravel; and Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for Orbitz.com.
The Mayan region was second in the list behind England and beat out Myanmar, Chicago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, The Netherlands, Atlantic Canada, Uruguay, and Orlando in the top nine.
“Some see it as an approaching apocalypse, others as the beginning of a new era. Whatever your beliefs are about December 21, 2012, interest is skyrocketing in the Maya, the ancient civilization known for the great cities it left behind in Mexico and Central America.
The date marks the end of a 5,126-year cycle on the Long Count calendar developed by the Maya, and there will be events on the occasion in Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras, Banas said.
If you want to see incredible ruins, Reid recommended skipping the tourist hordes at Tulum and Chichen Itza in Mexico and instead head to places such as Tikal, Guatemala (which George Lucas used as a location in the original “Star Wars”), and Chiapas, Mexico.
Reid was once exploring a site near Comitan, Mexico, and said he was astonished to discover he was the only person there.
“I had a pyramid to myself,” Reid said. “You’re just looking out over this mountainous valley, and you have the complete Mayan site to yourself. It’s an unreal travel experience.”
Join us on Belize Adventure Week in 2012. We visit a Mayan ruin, two Mayan ceremonial caves, as well as run rivers, and kayak and surf on our island 35 miles off the Belize coast.