Arecibo Observatory. Photo © Frank Van Den Eijnden/123rf.

Sights in Arecibo, Puerto Rico

There are several good reasons to visit the municipality of Arecibo. In the mountainous karst country south of town is the world-famous Observatorio de Arecibo. On the coast is Cueva del Indio, a geographic wonder that illustrates what happens when crashing waves meet massive petrified sand dunes—it’s also a natural repository for petroglyphs. And for children, there’s the Faro de Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park with its themed playgrounds and welcoming patch of beach.

An intact stone arch that once served as the entrance to the Maya city.

Maya Archeaological Sites on Isla Cozumel

Isla Cozumel played a deeply significant role in the Maya world. The island’s primary site—known as San Gervasio today—was dedicated to Ixchel, the Maya goddess of fertility, the moon, childbirth, medicine, and weaving. Read on to discover more about archaeological sites on the island.

Mayan glyphs. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Pre-Colonial Mayan Inhabitants

Guatemala’s history is complicated and fascinating, though it often reads like a tragic novel. A basic understanding of its history is a crucial element for the well-informed traveler hoping to get the most out of a visit to this mystifying land of culture and contrasts.

Carved Mayan stelae at Chichén Itzá, Mexico.

Deciphering Hieroglyphic Maya Script

For years, scholars could not agree whether the fantastic inscriptions found on Maya stelae, codices, and temple walls were anything more than complex records of numbers and dates. Learn about the difficult journey to finally translating Maya glyphs, from centuries-long resistance to breakthroughs as recent as 1980, efforts which have lent invaluable insight into Maya civilization.

Iglesia San Francisco in Old Town Quito. Photo © Paul Prescott/123rf.

Sights in Quito’s Old Town

Quito’s Old Town is what makes the city famous, containing a huge number of colonial churches and religious buildings set around elegant plazas. Old Town is cleaner, safer, and a joy to wander around following a recent multimillion-dollar regeneration. While there are excellent guided maps and multilingual tours to be had, independent travelers will find exploring easy with expert author Ben Westwood’s account of the area.

The brand new waterfront of Paseo Tablado La Guancha. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Puerto Rico’s South Coast

Instead of lush, rocky coastlines, rough Atlantic waters, mountainous karst country, and a dense population, Puerto Rico’s south coast features a flat, dry topography, and considerably less commercial development. It’s a great place to go if you want to escape the traffic and American influence found elsewhere on the island. And there are many great historic and cultural sights to explore.

Stone carving at Tierradentro Archeological Park. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Explore the Tierradentro Necropolis in Colombia

Tierradentro is the site of a major indigenous necropolis that includes monumental funeral statues and hypogea (underground burial chambers), our only link to the extinct culture that thrived here for 400 years. Learn about what you’ll see on a visit and how to best tour the many archeological sites.

Bone fragments found at the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

The Marco Gonzalez Maya Site, Belize

Those looking for a little Mayan history on Ambergris Caye in Belize can find it at the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site. History and adventure buffs will enjoy private guided tours of this virgin site, currently under study, which was inhabited by the Maya for 1,600 years.

Lily pads at Victoria Regia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Sight-Seeing Along the Río Amazonas

Several sights provide excellent photo ops along the Río Amazonas westward from Leticia to the Parque Amacayacu. These are usually visited as part of a package one-day tour offered by all hotels and travel agencies, but for greater flexibility and to avoid feeling part of the herd you can charter your own boat. To be specific about where you want to go and to negotiate a good price, here’s an overview and highlights of the area.