Latin America is a continent rich in history, a continent that hosted two of the greatest empires in the world; Mayan and Incan. A lot of this world was destroyed by the Spanish and Portuguese when they arrived, but a lot survived, and what has been left behind is a mysterious and fascinating world of hidden temples giving us clues to their past.
Peru is home to the largest collection of Inca ruins and temples in South America. Perhaps its most famous is Machu Picchu, now one of the ‘new’ 7 wonders of the world, but there are other lesser known ruins that give you a better understanding of this time and are no less impressive. Exploring the Inca fortress of Pisac with its colourful local market below and the strategic ruins of Ollantaytambo are not to be missed.
Central America was home to the Mayan Empire, a civilisation that mysteriously disappeared in 900 AD and what has been left behind are mystifying pyramid temples located in remote regions, most of which are still covered in the jungle canopy. Tikal is probably the pick of them, located in northern Guatemala it covers an area of 570 sq miles of which only a fraction has been excavated. Mexico also holds monuments to the past and the impressive temples at Chichen Itza and Uxmal are not to be missed.
The Mayans mysteriously disappeared in 900 AD and what they left behind were steep pyramid temples depicting their past. Often in remote jungle locations, most of which are yet to be explored and even excavated, they are fascinating to discover. Living among the ruins are howler monkeys, whose loud calls only add to the mystery of this hidden world.
Famous as much for its beaches as its Mayan ruins, Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula stands as a testament to the Mayan world. Colossal temples with intricate designs lay over huge areas, all of which was built without the wheel. Each of the three main sites are worth visiting; Chichen Itza – whose size and grandeur never fails to impress, Uxmal – a master class in Mayan sculpture and design, and Tulum whose steep temples are ideally located on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean.
The most famous destination in Peru is Machu Picchu, the ‘lost city of the Incas’. As well as being one of the most dramatic archaeological sites in the world, it also offers a fascinating insight into the daily life of one of the most respected peoples of the Americas – the Incas. At the centre of this Inca world is Cuzco which in Quechua means ‘Navel of the earth’ and was the capital of the Inca Empire.
A lot of what these ancient civilisations left behind was destroyed by conquistadors or has been slowly eroded by the natural elements. Within a rapidly shrinking world, man is now also a problem and we ask that you take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints to try and preserve the past.
Manor Cottage, Papermill Lane, South Moreton, Oxfordshire, OX11 9AH
Amazing trip, five stars! Normally a trip of this magnitude in a short period of time can be daunting, but the fact that everything went so smoothly and at no time did we feel stressed or overbeared is a compliment to Latin Odyssey