Wonder is nourishment for the soul. We are the only animal on earth, as far as we know, that can be moved to tears by a sunset, that marvels at the stars at night, that feels awe, and humility, at the achievements of our past. Wonder defines us as human beings. Find Caracol, Belize as number 7 for Condé Nast Traveller Seven Wonders of the World.
Of the original Seven Wonders of the World, only the Great Pyramids of Giza remain. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Temple of Artemis, the Colossus of Rhodes have all faded to dust and memory. These, instead, are seven wonders for our time. They are the Acropolis of our day, the Stonehenge of now. Which also means they can be seen firsthand. And so they should. Because the real magic of wonder is not in the thing itself, but in the fact that the more you look for wonder in the world the more the wonder of the world becomes a part of you.
7. CARACOL, BELIZE
The ancient Mayans were remarkable people. Without the wheel, or advanced tools of any kind, they managed to build vast stone cities. Not to mention, in the middle of one of the densest jungles on Earth. Chichen Itza and Tulum, in Mexico, are perhaps the most famous sites, but today they are a crush of souvenir stalls and mass-market tourism. Caracol is different. Located in the rainforests of western Belize, this enormous 30 square mile site is utterly undeveloped, free of crowds (less than a dozen people visit per day) and, because of that, perhaps, the most authentic way to experience the mystery and magic of the ancient Mayans today.
There are thousands of individual ruins to explore. But, the most impressive is Caana, the Sky Palace; a 143-foot pyramid where the king of this Tollan, or great city, once lived. Climb to the top and the view is the same as it would have been more than 1,500-years ago: no tourists, no souvenir stalls, just jungle and stone pyramids as far as the eye can see.
See it: Francis Ford Coppola’s boutique hideaway, Blancaneaux Lodge, is less than an hour from Caracol and offers guided trips to the site.
Read full article by Aaron Millar here.