Doomsday destinations: Mayan ‘apocalypse’ leads to surge in travel to Central America
By Aimee Markwardt
Doomsday has arrived. Or not.
You’ve heard the hype: fears that the end of the world is coming, in light of the end of the Mayan calendar.
What the ancient Mayans may not have anticipated was how their calendar would affect tourism in Central America, specifically parts of Mexico, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Turns out, a hyped-up apocalypse prediction is good for tourism. Many news reports indicate a surge of tourists are flocking to the Mayans’ ancestral homeland to witness ritual reenactments, participate in conferences and even watch entertaining shows.
Curious where the tourists are flocking — or at least turning an eye toward? Here are a few points of interest on the map:
Bugarach, France — Some believe this tiny village will be one of the few places spared during the end of the world. But (in true French style) local authorities are begging tourists to stay away. For doomsday believers (or just the extra curious travelers), Priceline.com offers a list of cheap hotels in Bugarach. Priceline.com has a long list of travel deals, including 50 percent off last-minute travel, which, well, may come in handy if things start going wonky in the next few days. Just don’t tell the French locals we condoned it.
The ancient city of Tikal — This city, founded in 200 BC in Guatemala, is a popular pilgrimage for both Mayan culture enthusiasts, as well as Star Wars fans. The ruins were the site of a Star Wars film (the planet Yavin 4). Tripadvisor.com offers a wealth of information on things to see in Tikal, cheap flights, good hotels and a variety of questions in its forum. If you’re interested in a more guided and educational experience in Tikal, check out toursguatemala.com, a local tour operator, or mayan-traveler.com, where a one-day tour of this famous site is only $80.
Copan, Guatemala — This Mayan city was abandoned in the 10th century and is now a designated World Heritage Site. Mayan-traveler.com also offers a tour through Copan.
The ruins of Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala City — There are plans to hold ceremonies here to celebrate the end of the Mayan cycle and welcome a new era. Interested in learning more? Check out Guatemalan Adventure’s tours of Guatemala City.
Looking for something specifically designed to celebrate the end of the Maya Long Count Calendar? The Santuario de la Esperanza, or Sanctuary of Hope, was recently erected in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, Mexico.
Bonus tip: If you are planning a trip where you need to rent a car, save money on car rentals by booking through Payless Car Rentals, where you can get 10 percent off rentals, plus 3.5 percent cash back.