The Acropolis of the Nakum Mayan site in Guatemala.
In 1990 about half of the Petén department was protected under the Maya Biosphere Reserve. The Reserve was created to protect the largest area of tropical forest remaining in Central America. The other half was leftunprotected, as an economical resource for local communities
When I first came to live in the Petén in 1997 about 1 third of the unprotected rainforest had disappeared. Nevertheless, with 2 thirds still standing plus the immense Mayan Biosphere Reserve being protected, we were living in the middle of a vast area of seemingly endless rainforest with a few spots of slashed forest that had made way to agricultural land.
The Mirador Basin is a geographically-defined elevated basin of 2,169 square kilometers found in the remote rainforest of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the northern department of Petén, Guatemala. The basin is named after El Mirador, which is an immense archaeological site within the basin.
The region is part of the last large area of intact tropical forest in Mesoamerica. Together with the reserves of Tikal National Park, the eastern Petén and the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in southern Mexico, the Mirador Basin represents the last refuge of tropical flora and fauna in Central America, creating an area large enough to guarantee the survival of threatened species.
Jungle tourism is a rising subcategory of adventure travel defined by active multifaceted physical means of travel in the jungle regions of the earth. Although similar in many respects to adventure travel, jungle tourism pertains specifically to the context of region, culture and activity. According to the Glossary of Tourism Terms, jungle tours have become a major component of green tourism in tropical destinations and are a relatively recent phenomenon of Western international tourism.
Of the regions that take part in tourism-driven sustainable development practices and eco tourism, Mexican, Central and South American practices are the most pervasive in the industry; notably Mayan jungle excursions. Other regions include jungle territories in Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific.
In 1996 two friends and I undertook our first backpacking experience. We traveled from Costa Rica to Guatemala in six months. We originally planned to travel for a year, but half way decided to do something more useful with our presence in Central America and applied for volunteer jobs in Honduras and Guatemala. The travelers we met during our adventure traveled from South to North Central America and were very different from the travelers you would meet now on the same route.
Most people were, like us, looking for a real escape. It would have been rare to find anyone traveling for less then three months. As a matter of fact, most people had started in the northern region of the continent, or often in Mexico and were planning to travel as far south as Peru or Patagonia. They would give themselves eight months or more to do so. The main reason for their trip was not so much traveling in itself; most backpackers were looking for a different lifestyle. They had already found the lifestyle they were looking for and had been successful in becoming accomplished adventurers.
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