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Visions of Belize – Xunantunich

Xunantunich

Belize is also a major zone of Mayan civilization. Actually, 12% of the population is pure Mayan. At one time, the ruins around the southwest part of Belize supported a population exceeding a million people. Now the entire population of Belize is about 350,000. There are quite a few theories regarding the demise of the great Mayan civilization, and I’d suggest you investigate them. There is a lot to be learned from them. The ruins of Xunantunich, pictured here, are a must visit for anyone traveling to Belize. They are some of the few remaining ruins you can still climb and explore. I made a few photos while visiting them, but I thought this one did the best job of taking us into the adventure. What do you think?

Visions of Belize – The Saba Tree

Saba Tree

After you’ve passed through the Mayan mountains, you find yourself surrounded by the beautiful rolling fields of western Belize. You also find ancient and sacred Saba trees. To this day, Mayans believe these trees are maps that will guide your soul to the heavens. Obviously this farmer is either Mayan or just loves a beautiful tree because they left it standing tall right in the middle of their pasture. Tomorrow we will be visiting some of the largest Mayan ruins in Central America.

Visions Of Belize – The Mayan Mountains

Salt Water Caye Belize

As a SCUBA diver, prior to visiting Belize, this is what I had always imaged what it would be like. 30 miles off the coast is the world’s 2nd largest barrier reef. The reef itself is dotted with small islands, which in Belize, they call ‘cayes’. That being said, this week I want to share with you the Belize we discovered when we made our way through the Mayan mountains to the west. This is the Belize we fell in love with and will surely return to visit.

Sleeping Giant Belize

This is the Belize we will surely return to! The Mayan mountains are full of citrus orchards, breathtaking vistas and friendly little farming communities. You can reach this valley by traveling along the Hummingbird highway. You actually drive across the entire nation from the coast to the Guatemala border in about 2 hours. I hope you enjoy this week as we share in an adventure along this highway. We will see beautiful Saba trees, Mayan ruins and the Milky Way!

Photographer’s Note – This is a single image shot with a Nikon D700, Nikon 24-70 lens, Singh-Ray 2 stop GND filter. I brought it to life with Lightroom 4, a few NIK filters and a couple moves in Photoshop.

Visions of Belize – San Ignacio

San Ignacio Market

Folks in tourism never know what to make of us. People normally ask, “Where should we go? What’s worth checking out?”…inevitably they suggest a beach or some other tourist trap. You probably know by now, I’m not the ‘swim up bar’ type. To avoid this, I like to ask…”Where do YOU go, where do YOU like to hang out?”. If you want to learn about the world, you don’t learn about it through landscapes (well, if you’re a geologist you might) you learn about it through people. Those are the places you want to go. On this day, we politely asked the woman below for directions. An hour later we had walked with her to the local market, shopped for produce with her, had lunch together and exchanged contact information. I shot the above photo in the local market she took us to. During our visit we learned she was a retired school teacher in the town of San Ignacio. This information would serve us later when we were stopped and questioned by the police….no kidding, we told the officer we had lunch with what turned out to be his school teacher. At that point we were friends and the city was ours to explore (complete with a police escort if we so desired..we didn’t, the town of San Ignacio is a comfortable place to walk around).

As I always say, the world is far too small to be a jerk (normally, I use another word) and this just goes to prove it!

Meet our tour guide and savior…Amina Estrada!

Photographer’s Note – As you know, the Nikon 24mm 1.4g has become my storytelling lens of choice over the last year. This is just another reason why I love it so much. The image was converted to B&W via Nik SEP 2.

Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge

Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge

As you know by now, I’m working on my next Photographer’s Guide. This one will be about Belize, specifically southern Belize. It will outline an adventure that will take you from the turquoise coastal waters to the ancient mountains via the breathtaking Hummingbird Highway. This week I’ve shared the places to stay during that adventure. The Hummingbird Highway traverses the heart of the scenic Mayan Mountains. If you’d like to stay in the heart of these mountains and photograph beautiful landscapes and rare wildlife, there are only two places. A place I will share with your tomorrow and this place, the majestic Sleeping Giant Lodge. The Lodge offers an experience like no other.

Site Note - See those categories listed below? Did you know I categories every post I make by the camera, lens, tripod (is any) and software I used to make each image? I do that so you can easily navigate around the site and discover images in places, gear or software that you are interested in. Yep, just click ‘Belize’ and you can find all the images I have made from Belize. It’s that easy!