Guatemala's impressive Maya Biosphere Reserve. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Biosphere Reserves

Guatemala has more than 90 protected areas encompassing about 28 percent of the country’s total land area. Among the different types of protected areas are biosphere reserves, national parks, biotopes, natural monuments, wildlife refuges, and private nature reserves. Several of these are encompassed within larger areas, as is the case with the national parks and biotopes making up the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve.

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.

Coba, Mexico, 123rf

Visiting the Maya Ruins of Cobá

The Maya ruins of Cobá make an excellent complement—or even alternative—to the memorable but vastly overcrowded ruins at Tulum. Its structures are much larger and more ornate–Cobá’s main pyramid is the second tallest in the Yucatán Peninsula, and it’s one of few you are still allowed to climb. The ruins are also surrounded by lakes and thick forest, making it a great place to see birds, butterflies, and tropical flora.

An inset carving of a skull alongside other carved figures.

Exploring the Ruins of Copán

The ruins of Copán are located in a six-hectare archaeological park at the edge of the Río Copán. Check out a printable map of the site and learn more about these famous ruins.