The Mayan calendar has been criticized lately due to a recent discovery at the Comalcalco Maya site validating the December 21, 2012 date inscription for the second time. This finding was close in proximity to the first original December 21, 2012 date inscription at the Tortuguero Mayan site in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, Mexico. Mexico has chosen to not release more information publicly at this time, only letting people know that another instance of the December 2012 date exists.
The reality is, very little is known about Maya culture, or 2012, because the Spanish burned nearly all of the Mayan literature when they arrived in Mexico seeking gold. What is known, is that the Mayans had mastery of the stars which surpassed the Europeans own grasp many years later when Galileo discovered Earth’s position in the Solar System. Meanwhile, the Mayans literally worshipped Venus and plotted its course to form a highly accurate calendar which charted the alignment of the earth, solar system, and the Milky Way galaxy over a 26,000 year period! In fact, Mayan astrologers even planned the building of ceremonial buildings and temples in perfect alignment with the equinoxes and solstices for ritual and farming purposes.
Belize is often ignored in the Maya conversation, and especially on Mayan maps. Belize actually sits right in the middle of the ancient Mayan empire that once existed long before Columbus voyaged across the Atlantic. This makes Belize the perfect, centralized location, to participate in December 2012 festivities. About two weeks is all you need to visit Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala on the same trip, all while getting the full Mayan experience during the Mayan 2012 celebration.
It is possible to fly into Cancun from anywhere in the world, often for a cheaper price than Belize. You can visit the famous Chitzen Itza and Tulum ruins, plus swim in cenote pools on 2 different day tours by ADO bus from Cancun. The Lamani site (take the boat for the adventure in getting there) and Altun Ha Maya site of northern Belize are also nicely excavated. Altun Ha was the site where the largest ever Maya jade mask was unearthed, however this piece is currently held at the national museum in Belize City, not on-site.
Once you make it to western Belize, stay at Lower Dover Field Station and Jungle Lodge for the most intimate jungle mayan adventure and experience. We are located only 3/4 mile from the highway so its easy to reach us by bus! If you stay in the bunkhouse, it is literally built into the side of a temple…
Lower Dover’s ruins sit hidden by 100 jungle acres of private property along the Belize River between Big and Little Barton creeks. The jungle lodge property has been owned for 25 years but only has recently been turned into a hotel to share our amazing location on a Mayan site core with everyone. Only recently discovered, Lower Dover is believed to be a Mayan ceremonial center which overlooked the entire Belize River Valley housing settlement at Barton Ramie. Lower Dover was missed by Harvard archaeologists Willey and Gifford during their 1950’s-70’s excavation of Barton Ramie, located just a stones throw away, on the other side of the Belize River, at present day Spanish Lookout. Because of the scale of past work done, and the close proximity of the sites, Lower Dover is sure to change views of the Mayan history in western Belize.
Current archaeology work is being headed by the director of Belize archaeology Dr. Jamie Awe and the Belize Valley Area Reconnoissance Project (BVAR). During the months of June and July the Lower Dover Jungle Lodge closes to the public and becomes a field station and scientific research facility to accommodate university students. We look forward to discovering many new developments about this key piece of the Mayan puzzle during the following years.
When travelers stay at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge, they will enjoy close proximity to many must see Mayan tourist sites. Full day tours to ATM Cave, Barton Creek cave canoeing, Caracol, Cahal Pech, Xunantunich, and more are booked and arranged free of cost. Notably, a National Geographic book Sacred Places of a Lifetime recently voted ATM cave (Actun Tunichil Muknal or Cave of the Stone Sepulcher) as the #1 most sacred cave in the world to visit! I thought I heard that Jesus was buried in a cave or something like that…until its found we are still on top!
An amazing Mayan burial is found in ATM cave that has withstood the test of time in order to crystalize a Mayan skull into photo perfection. This is an absolute must tour, but be aware that because of the delicate nature of the Mayan ceramics and burials located in ATM cave, limited numbers of tourists are allowed through every day. It is advised that tours are arranged in advance when travel dates are known to ensure your tour spot, especially when planning on traveling during or on December 21, 2012.
After seeing everything Mayan that Belize has to offer, continue heading west to Tikal near Flores, Guatemala. It is possible to take an amazing 1 day tour of Tikal from Lower Dover Jungle Lodge or any other western Belize hotel, however, stopping and spending a night in Flores allows travelers to take their time. It is best to enter the TIkal Mayan site during the morning and evening hours when the tropical sun does not blast you, and tour groups are not crowding the main sights.
Regular bus shuttle service to the park runs daily from Flores to Tikal. Travelers will also save a bit of money by traveling by bus to Flores from Belize instead of taking an organized tour. This is only really advised for seasoned travelers and/or those fluent in Spanish.
From Flores, Guatemala it is possible to bus back to Belize the same way, or (preferred for time purposes) fly to Belize City where you either keep flying to Caye Caulker or San Pedro / Ambergris Caye. If traveling by bus, a connection is made with a water taxi in Belize City to take travelers to the Cayes. It is now possible to get back to Cancun by taking a water taxi to Chetumal, Mexico or by going back to Belize City and connecting back to Cancun with the new nightly direct ADO bus service from Belize City to the Cancun Airport. The Thunderbolt water taxi also runs once daily to Corozal from San Pedro, where you can connect with the ADO bus north to Cancun.