End of the Mayan world as we know it

End of the Mayan world as we know it


Doomsayers could be right: the world will indeed end on 21December 2012 – at least for the Mayans. The calendar of the Mesoamerican civilisation, which began more than 5,000 years ago, finally comes to an end this year. And travellers can visit the temple complex in Guatemala where a record of the earliest date in the calendar was found.

At the temple complex of Uaxactun, in the north of the country, an early inscription of the calendar was discovered in 1916 by Sylvanus Morley, and is the earliest record of a Mayan date found. The civilisation’s complex mathematical calendar began on the equivalent of 11 August 3114 BC in the Gregorian Calendar.

The complex also holds astronomical significance, not unlike Stone Henge. On the longest day of the year, the sun rises behind one temple; on the shortest day, it rises directly behind another. This, and the mathematical accuracy of the calendar, has led some to believe that the world may end on the last day of the last cycle recorded: (21 December 2012). However, some say that it is more likely that the Mayans calculated the start of a new era.

To mark the event, bespoke tour operator Black Tomato has launched a new 11-night itinerary taking adventurers to Uaxactun. The trip begins in Belize, where travellers spend an evening at Victoria House, south of San Pedro, before moving on to Guatemala. Guests can camp at Uaxactun, exploring the ancient temples and venturing into the rainforest to learn more about the Mayan culture from a local guide.

After a night under the stars, guests move to the luxury of Francis Ford Coppola’s stunning lodge, La Lancha, on the edge of Lake Petén Itzá. (Stay in one of the rainforest cabanas for wildlife-watching from your room.) Two nights are then spent at Casa Palopo, near the village of Santa Catarina Palapo, on the shore of Lake Atitlan. The last stop is the town of Antigua and the El Convento hotel, which offers fair-trade coffee tours.

We can certainly think of worst places to spend the last days of civilisation.

Source: cntraveller.com