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Belize & Guatemala Family Vacation - "Why we travel with Wildland"

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The Campbell-Hill Family came to us looking for a family vacation in Central America. They chose our Belize Tikal Adventure in Belize and Guatemala, an active family-friendly tour that offers an exploration of the rich natural history of Belize and Guatemala. Here are some highlights from their trip and why they keep choosing to travel with us!

Mayan Ruins

"Noel, our local guide in Guatemala, was Mayan and spoke both English and Spanish fluently. He was the perfect guide for the Mayan ruins of Yaxhá. It was wonderful to hear about Mayan history, and see the ball courts, temples, and palaces with so few people around. Most of the ruins are still buried under mounds of dirt and trees, but five temples tower above the canopy. Some were recently excavated, while others were crumbling away. It's hard to picture them all still standing and painted red. The scale of how many Mayan ruins are still uncovered in Guatemala is mind-boggling. The ferns are so lush and the trees wrap around trunks like clawed animals. No one knows why almost all the Mayan cities were abandoned after 1,000 years of habitation around 830AD. It's still a mystery. At sunset, we climbed the steps of the ruins and watched the sun set over the forest as we listened to the howler monkeys. Noel produced a tub of sweet pineapple, some spicy cheese and red wine as a surprise. This was one of the highlights of the trip for all of us."

"The ancient city of Tikal was magical, with many palaces, temples, and pyramids, mostly still covered with dirt, moss, and huge trees. They've excavated some buildings and the scale of the Mayan city is impressive. It's one of the oldest Mayan sites (700B.C. to 900 A.D.) with lots of buildings built on top of each other. There were carved stelae and alters and ball courts. At one point, this was a city of 100,000! I loved the section called "Mundo Perdido" (Lost World) and Noel's stories. There were more tourists here, but Noel said that in peak seasons, there can be as many as 2,000 tourists in the main plaza!" 

History of Guatemala

"Guatemala is an interesting country with lots of challenges. They have really low life expectancy with Mayans living to only 48 (men) or 49 (women). This is one of the lowest figures in the world. The government estimates that 81% of Mayans live in poverty and 75% are illiterate. The land is controlled by a few wealthy families and there's rampant corruption in the government. The US backed a coup in Guatemala in 1954 and the country was ruled by military force for the next 30 years. In 1982, General Montt took control and there was widespread repression, murder, and torture that devastated the country in a civil war. There was fighting between the guerrillas and the military until 1996 when a peace agreement was made and the rebels handed in their arms."

Active Adventures

"All of the activities were fabulous; snorkeling, tubing, cave-swimming, and zip-lining! One of the highlights of the trip for me was the zip-line ride through the jungle canopy. There were tall ladders and we climbed to the tree tops, then they clipped us into harnesses and handed us thick leather gloves. We held the harness with one hand and used the other hand to grip the cable in order to stop at the next platform. It was great fun to fly through the trees, especially when they let us reverse the harness and fly head first in "Superman" position with the guide behind us. Each time we finished one of the seven zips, the guy would call out "Perfecto!" "Excellent!" Great fun!"

Lodging

"I'm so glad that we didn't stay at the lodge at Tikal. It would have been closer, but it was way more touristy. I love the Ni'tun EcoLodge and the food there was excellent. The lodge is built of stone, up a huge mountainside, and even our rooms had stone walls. Each room had a thatched roof, overhead fan, and a hammock. I enjoyed reading by the lake while the others took turns in the kayak. It was nice to have some down time and finally feel like we're on vacation! The owner, Lorena (Lore) was delightful. She's part Mayan and part French and speaks Spanish and English fluently. She went to a British school in Guatemala City and her story was fascinating."

Why they travel with Wildland

"One night we had a fascinating dinner companion, Jini Reddy, a journalist from England. Her parents were from India and she grew up in Canada. She had just trekked into El Mirador with eight men for five days to see the ruins. They had stayed only in tents, with no showers, and had eaten mostly beans and rice, so she was glad to be back at the Lodge. She'd recently been in Iran and Sri Lanka. Her life as a journalist sounded fascinating and we had a lovely dinner with her and great conversations. This is one of the reasons why I love traveling with Wildland. The less touristy lodges and the people we meet are always one of the highlights of each trip."

Wildland Alumni, Bonnie Campbell-Hill and Steven Hill

I love designing custom family trips to Central America in every season and it makes my day to hear that travelers had a blast. If you are interested in travel to Central America don't hesitate to give me a call!

Keeping it wild,

Grettel Calderon

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