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Civilations of Maya Made Karsts Their Home

Sep 9, 2008
If you loved the Indiana Jones or the "Romancing the Stone" movies, you have probably imagined going on exotic expeditions of your own. When you're ready to take the plunge, one great place for you to visit is Belize.

This Central American country has everything you could ask for in an adventure vacation. Most notable are karst. These are caves formed on limestone shelves. They were formed thousands of years ago and are believed to have been sacred places used by the ancient Maya in their religious practices.

Archeologists estimate the karst were first used in about 1000 B.C. The Maya thought the karst were doorways to the world of the dead. Although previously historians believed there was only one such portal, known as Xibalba, located in Guatamala, it now appears that Mayans believed all karst were Xibalba or sacred. There is still a feel of the sacred when you visit them today. The people of Belize realize the importance of the treasures they have in the karst and are working to preserve them. You can still see them up close but do remember to be careful so that future generations can enjoy them as well.

Many of these karst are featured in Belize travel guides. They have become quite popular stops for visitors. It is easy to see why: Where else can you find such ancient historic artifacts in their natural state. The trip may not be for the squeamish: There is evidence that these ancient rites involved human sacrifice of children and adults. These are apparent at the Actun Tunichil Muknal karst where the sacrifices were apparently made to appease the gods.

Other karst that are interesting include the Caves Branch system which has a river with water that remains at about 75 degrees F year round. There is also the Che Chem Ha cave. It is believed the Mayans lived in this cave around the year 800 A.D. There are signs everywhere of the civilizations of Maya.

If you like caves but are not particularly interested in ancient civilizations, you can still enjoy them for their sporting potential. You can enjoy swimming, hiking, canoeing and tubing the beautiful wilderness. The Belize tourism office can tell you where to find the best spots for these treks.

Of course, Belize has all the other things that make a destination special. The people are wonderful. The food is tasty and the culture is fascinating. Belize offers the full range of tourist amenities. The nation may not be that well-known in the U.S. but it stills offer the full slate of amenities that travelers want.

So, if you are looking for a vacation destination that has a bit of derring-do to it, you might do worse than going to Belize.
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