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The Mayan archaeological site of Yaxchilan

The Mayan archaeological site of Yaxchilan is accessed by a boat ride up the Usumacinto River which is the border between Mexico and Guatemala.

A few weeks ago, as guests of the Mexican Tourist Board, we traveled to the city of Merida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan, to attend the 5th Annual Feria Turistica del Mundo Maya, Mayan World Tourism Fair, a trade show which featured tourism vendors from the area that once was the Mayan Empire. Now this rain forested terrain encompasses Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras and the Mexican states of Yucatán, Tabasco, Campeche, Quintana Roo and Chiapas.

We met with regional tour operators, tourism boards, hoteliers and other vendors, and visited many sites where we had not previously explored.

New to us was the Mayan archaeological site of Dzibilchaltun, a lesser visited site not far from Merida which was inhabited since around 500 B.C. We climbed around its temple, plaza and other structures, and were quite impressed with its museum of artifacts from throughout the Mayan world.

We then traveled to the town of Palenque, in the state of Chiapas. After driving through the jungle we boated up the Usumacinta River to the ruins of Yaxchilan, capital of one of the most powerful Maya states in the region and a rival to Palenque and Tikal. The site contains many impressive ruins, with palaces and temples bordering a large plaza above the Usumacinta River. Throughout the ruins are impressive hieroglyphics depicting the history of the kingdom.

South of Yaxchilan, on the border of Guatemala, we explored the ruins of Bonampak, another Mayan city, noted for its vivid 8th century murals.

In the near future we will be offering these Mayan sites as add-on options to our Yucatan adventures.

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