Researchers earlier this year, using laser scans to probe the dense jungle in Belize and Guatemala, revealed the ruins of a 1,200-year-old pre-Columbian civilization larger and more complex than previously known. Hidden beneath the forest they discovered a sprawling network of cities connected by raised highways, as well as numerous fortifications and large-scale farms—a lost Mayan “megalopolis” that once boasted a population of up to 25 million, and may have rivaled the ancient cultures of Greece and China in its sophistication.
Now, Belize’s Ka’ana Resort, located in the Mayan heartland, is offering an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at this archeological treasure. The boutique property has launched a new package that immerses guests into Maya cultural heritage, including walking tours through two different archaeological sites—Tikal and Cahal Pech—and yoga and a picnic at a third, Xunantunich. The experience also includes an illuminating helicopter tour over the ancient ruins and remote waterfalls led by the resort’s owner Fernando Paiz, one of Central America’s most knowledgeable and well-known Maya preservationists, as well as the cofounder of the Guatemalan nonprofit that funded much of the research leading to the recent discovery. (Paiz is also currently developing a second resort in Belize, Itz’ana Resort & Residences.)
While residing in a secluded, one-bedroom garden villa with its own plunge pool and personal butler, guests of Ka’ana will learn about the Maya civilization’s culture and mythology, as well as participate in traditional Maya cooking classes. Proceeds from the package will support the preservation work of the La Ruta Maya Foundation (of which Paiz is president), which recovers stolen Maya artifacts and makes them available for public display—Paiz will be placing relics from his collection at Ka’ana, lending the resort one of the largest displays of Maya art in Belize.
Guests can also enjoy Ka’ana’s other activities and amenities, which include cave exploration, zip lining, horseback riding, a full-service spa and a 1,000-bottle wine cellar (alas, none of Maya vintage).