Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 18, 2018

Amazing Haiti


In our armchair travels we have been exploring the Central American countries and now we take a hop about some more Caribbean countries. Our first stop is Haiti a country that shares the Hispaniola Island with the Dominican Republic to its east. Even though it is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake there are many places to explore and things to see.

The Capital Port-au-Prince

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Port-au-Prince the capital of Haiti is located on the Gulf of Gonave. All about the city you can see colorful gingerbread-style houses from the turn of the 19th century.

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Grand Rue Artists is where you can see the amazing artwork. Artists have found a place among junkyards and body shops where they take scraps and found objects and turn them into works of art. Founder and elder member artist Andre Eugene sculpts in wood, plastic and car parts and another artist Jean Herard Celeur also creates larger than life statues from different scrap parts.

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Musee du Pantheon National has found its home in a large concrete building that is topped with white cones and mosaic decorations. Here is an extensive collection that pertains to national history. The exhibits are dedicated to the native Tainos tribes of the island, rooms that tell the stories of the Spanish and French invasions and others that reveal the plight of Haitian independence in the 1800s. Among the highlights is the anchor from the exploring ship belonging to Christopher Columbus.

haiti rum

Barbancourt Rum Distillery welcomes visitors on Fridays from November to May. The tour offers the history of rum in the region and includes an explanation of the aging and distillation processes. The favorite of the company is the Estate Reserve Rum that has been aged 15 years and can be sampled and purchased.

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Maison Dufort is a recently restored gingerbread-style home that is open to the public. It is a great example of Haiti’s unusual architecture.

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Champs de Mars are a series of parks that have been split by wide boulevards


and make up the Place des Heros de l’Independence. This area greatly suffered during the earthquake and has been closed off.

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This is where you can find several statues of Haiti’s founding fathersToussaint Louverture,

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Jean-Jacques Dessalines on horseback,

Monument to a founding father of independent Haiti, Alexandre Pétion

Alexander Petion,

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and Henri Christophe.

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There is also the iconic statue The Marron Inconnu of an unknown slave blowing a conch-shell trumpet. Once the last of the rubble gets removed the area will again be opened to the public.

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Marche de Fer the market was constructed in 1889 and is a red-metal structure. Here you can purchase food, art and voodoo paraphernalia. The southern hall offers all kinds of food with incredible scents. The northern hall offers a giant craft market.

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Parque Historique de la Canne a Sucre a sugar mill that has become a museum. Many of the exhibits are open air and are surrounded by colonial-style buildings that consist of factories and shops. There is a collection of sugar cane presses, boilers and part of the aqueduct that was used to drive the mills.

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You can see the narrow-gauge railway that carried sugarcane to the factories. The park here is an outdoor venue for concerts and every October hosts the Artisanat en Fete, Haiti’s largest crafts fair.

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Fort Jacques was erected following independence in 1804. It was built by Alexandre Petion and named in honor of Jean Jacques Dessalines. It offers great views over Port-au-Prince.

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Plage Publique is a popular beach between the Kaliko Beach Club and Wahoo Bay. Here you can relax or play in the sun. There are food sellers, you can get drinks and there are sound systems.

Exploring Haiti

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La Citadelle la Ferriere is a colossal fortress that clings to the ridges of Bonnet a L’Eveque Mountain. It was built by Haitian slave rebels in the early 19th century intended as protection again French invasion. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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Sans-Souci Palace found in the northern hill not far from the Citadelle. It was once home to Henri Christophe, the Haitian king, and leader during the independence wars against the French. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its great halls and grounds can be toured. Visitors can see the spot where King Henri committed suicide with a silver bullet in 1820.

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Lovely Jamel is another UNESCO World Heritage site that is the main hub of arts and crafts in Haiti. Visitors can see boutique galleries and many souvenir emporiums. The town also has a pretty municipal beach and promenade with palm trees and seafood grilling.

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Close-by is the Bassin Bleu. This cataract is part of the Petite Riviere that runs through the southern mountains. A few tour groups go each day to see glimmering plunge pools and little grottos and caves. It is enjoyable to swim in the midst of the tropical jungle with ferns and orchids.

haiti saut

Saut-d’Eau is known for its natural beauty and for its religious significance. These falls come flowing down in two mighty streams through the lush tropical greenery. It is held in high esteem by local Voodooists and by Catholics who come to them in a mass pilgrimage each July.

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Visitors are in awe of the colossal Massif de la Selle, where the legendary Furcy Forest can be found.

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It cascades down the ridges and peaks that rise over 2,500 meters above the Caribbean Sea. It is famed for its pine forests, wooded trails, and breathtaking views.

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Pic la Selle is the highest point in Haiti’s Chaine de la Selle and is one of the highest in the entire Caribbean region. It towers over all, close to the border with the Dominican Republic. There are many accessible tracks and trekking trails.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 15, 2018

The Beauty of Panama

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The Panama Canal is among the world’s greatest feats of engineering. Visitors have the choice of taking a partial or complete crossing of the canal. Crossing take four to eight hours. Visitors can explore the canal by visiting the Miraflores Locks Museum. At the restaurant on top of the museum, you can watch the transiting vessels in the canal below.

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Playa Las Lajas is a lovely beach extending for over 13 km along the Gulf of Chiriqui on the Pacific Coast. There is little current and ideal water temperatures. People enjoy swimming and bodysurfing. At the end of the road, you’ll find rustic shacks and cheap restaurants.

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Isla Taboga located about 20 km from Panama City is a great place to find sandy beaches. People can ride Jet Ski speedboats and take fishing charters. This lovely village was settled by the Spanish in 1515.

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It is home to the second-oldest church in the western hemisphere. Wander the narrow streets and relax at the few restaurants. From the top of the island, you can get fantastic views of Panama City.

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The Pearl Islands were populated by indigenous people until the Spanish Conquistadors came. These islands were featured on the reality TV show Survivor. Here you can find lush forests surrounded by white sand beaches. The most developed of the islands is Contadora Island with some resorts and an airstrip. Visitors can charter private yachts for cruising and exploring the islands.

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The Amador Causeway connects the three islands by the Panama Canal entrance to the mainland. From the causeway, you can get great views of Panama City

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and the Bridge of the Americas. People enjoy jogging, biking or rollerblading down the causeway.

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Near the small town of Cero Punto you’ll find one of Panama’s most beautiful trails Sendero Los Quetzales. This is a 9 km route that takes between four to seven hours.

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The trail takes you through the cloud forest of Parque Nacional Volcan Bari the follows along the Rio Caldera, crossing it several times. The trail ends in the mountains above Boquete and can also be hiked in reverse. It is recommended to hire a guide or join a tour.

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Santa Catalina offers world-class surfing. It is located on the Chiriqui Gulf. The lovely beach is surrounded by jungle forests.

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The San Blas Islands in eastern Panama are the best place to explore the rich culture of the indigenous people, the Kuna. You’ll find that they are friendly and welcoming. On each island, you’ll find a member of the tribe who will let you use the island for the day for a nominal fee.

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The island of Coiba is the largest island in the Coiba National Marine Park as well as the largest in all of Central America.

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Here you can find over 800 species of marine life. This is one of the best places for snorkeling and scuba diving on the Pacific coast.

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Bocas del Toro is the capital of the Bocas del Toro Province. It has become a popular spot for scuba divers. The coral reef is home to colorful tropical fish. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502 and has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Panama. There are beaches and lush rainforests.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 12, 2018

Amazing Panama City


Our armchair travels have taken us to Panama which is the country on the isthmus that links Central and South America. The Panama Canal is an amazing feat of human engineering and links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

 pan city

Our first stop is Panama City, the capital of Panama. It is a modern city that has been framed by the Pacific Ocean and the Panama Canal.


BioMuseo this fascinating museum was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. It is an impressive sight with crumpled multicolor forms. There are great exhibits. The permanent exhibition is Panama: Bridge of Life. Eight galleries tell visitors about the origin of the Panamanian isthmus and its huge impact on the planet’s biodiversity. The museum is on the Causeway. Audio guides come in five languages.

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Museo de Arte Contemporaneo is a privately owned museum featuring a great collection of Panamanian art. Artwork by Latin American artists and at times a temporary exhibition featuring a foreign or national artist.

Panama Viejo was founded on August 15, 1519, by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias de Avila. It was the first European settlement along the Pacific. It flourished for 150 years until Captain Henry Morgan sacked the city. Today much of the old city lies buried under a poor residential neighborhood but the ruins are worth seeing.

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In the old days, those who were in power resided at the Casa Reales or Royal Houses. This complex is ringed by timber ramparts and separated from the city proper by a moat. Within the complex were the customs house, the royal treasury, a prison and the governor’s house. Now only scattered walls remain of these structures.

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The Cathedral of Our Lady of Asunción was built between 1619 and 1626 and it’s the best-preserved building of the ruins. It was designed with two side chapels to give the cathedral a cross-like shape. Since the facade is gone only the walls now remain.

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To the north of the cathedral, you can see the massive ruins of Casa Alarcon, the town’s best-preserved and largest known private residence dating back to the 1640s.

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The best-preserved church here is the Church and Convent of St. Dominic.

 Also visible are the ruins of the Iglesia y Convento de la Compania de Jesus.

Other ruins include the Hospital de San Juan de Dios, the Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, and the Iglesia y Convento de La Merced.

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You will also see the Puente del Matadero or Bridge of the Slaughterhouse. This is an over-restored stone bridge.

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A more significant bridge is the Puente del Rey built in 1627 and has become a landmark. It well could be the oldest standing bridge in the Americas.

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Museo del Canal Interoceanico this museum has found its home in a building that once served as the headquarters for the original French canal company. It is more commonly referred to as The Panama Canal Museum and offers impressive exhibits on the famous waterway. The signs are in Spanish but English-speaking guides and audio tours are available.

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Parque Natural Metropolitano is a lovely park that sits on a hill north of downtown. It has vast expanses of tropical semi-deciduous forest. It is a great way to escape from the city. There are two main walking trails, the Nature Trail and the Titi Monkey Trail and they join to form one long loop. On the loop, a 150m high lookout offers fantastic views of Panama City, the bay, and the canal.

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Mammals you’ll encounter in the park include titi monkeys, anteaters, sloths and white-tailed deer. Among reptiles are iguanas, turtles, and tortoises. Over 250 bird species make their home here. In the Rio Curundu that runs along the eastern side of the park are fish and shrimp.

The park was the site of an important battle during the U.S. invasion to oust Manuel Noriega and the concrete structures just past the entrance are of historical significance. These were used during WW II as a testing and assembly plant for aircraft engines.

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A crane was set up in the park by an international team of scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute or STRI to study forest canopy, which is home to a complete ecosystem 30m to 50m above the ground. Now visitors can go up on the crane to get a completely different view of the rainforest.

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Centro Natural Punta Culebra is an informative marine museum that features two small aquariums and a nature trail leading through a dry forest with sloths and iguanas. There are signs in English and Spanish.

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One aquarium has fish from the Pacific and the other from the Caribbean. In a small six-sided building are exhibits on the history of Panama’s indigenous cultures. On the outside are large illustrations of vessels that let visitors look through a telescope and identify the types of ships waiting to transit the canal.

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Panama Canal Murals these murals by notable artist William B. Van Ingen depict the story of the monumental efforts to build the Panama Canal. You can find them in the Panama Canal Administration Building. These paintings have the distinction of being the largest group of murals by an American artist on display outside of the U.S.

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The white-domed Baha’i House of Worship is the mother temple for all of Latin America. It sits on the crest of a hill on the northeastern outskirts of the city, looking like a giant egg. On Sunday mornings readings from the Baha’i writings are held in both English and Spanish.

American Trade Hall, Casco Viejo, Panama

American Trade Hall was once the headquarters of the First National City Bank of New York and was the place where much of the financing of the Panama Canal came from. Today it offers cultural events. Visitors admire the Art Deco architecture.

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Plaza de Francia is a lovely plaza that pays homage to the French role in the construction of the canal.

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Its large stone tablets and statues are dedicated to the memory of the 22,000 workers who died trying to build the canal.

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Iglesia de San Jose protects the famous Altar de Oro or Golden Alter. This is the only relic salvaged after Panama Viejo was sacked.

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Teatro Nacional was built in 1907.

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The interior is magnificent with red and gold decorations and a ceiling mural by Roberto Lewis, one of Panama’s finest painters. There is also an impressive chandelier.

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Parque Recreativo Omar is the biggest park in the city. It is usually filled with people walking and jogging and children playing.

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Plaza de la Independencia is the place where Panama declared its independence from Columbia on November 3, 1903.

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Cathedral Metropolitana is the headquarters of the Panama archdiocese.


Paseo las Bovedas an esplanade that runs along the top ofpan bovedas the seawall that was built by the Spanish to protect the city.

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From here you can see the Puente de las Americas that arches over the waterway and the ships lining up to enter the canals.

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The Palacio de las Garzas got its name from

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the great white herons that live here. On the upper floor is the residence of the President of Panama.

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Balboa Statue is a well-known landmark in the city. It was sculpted by Miguel Blan and Mariano Benlliure. The statue overlooks the Bahia de Panama. It was a gift from Spain.

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World Trade Center is located in the financial district. The two towers were built in 1996.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 9, 2018

Visiting Nicaragua


Our armchair travels have taken us to the Central American country Nicaragua. It sits between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is a country known for its terrain of lakes, volcanoes, and beaches.

Exploring the Capital

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The capital city Managua is located on the north shore of Lake Managua.

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Puerto Salvador Allende is the revamped port area in Managua. This lakefront complex is enjoyed by both locals and tourists. There are many restaurants to relax in, paths for enjoyable strolls and playgrounds for children. The sunset views over the lake are awesome.

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Antigua Catedral once impressive and majestic is today just a shell of its former self. It was shattered by the 1972 earthquake. Today it stands beautiful and serene with stone angels watching over it but empty and left only to be gazed upon.

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Huellas de Acahualinca is an architectural site that was discovered by miners in 1874. There are fossilized tracks that record the passage of men, women, children as well as birds, raccoons, and deer across the muddy shores of Lago De Managua all dating back some 6000 years.

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Museo Nacional is the national museum and is housed in the Palacio de la Cultura y Biblioteca Nacional. Here visitors can learn about Nicaragua from the formation of lakes and volcanoes to gold mines and by pre-Columbian statuary and one of the best pottery collections in the country. There are exhibits from the Spanish-colonial period. Above the main staircase, you can see a mural of revolutionary movements in the Americas created by Mexican artist Arnold Belkin.

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Catedral Metropolitana is an impressive Managua landmark, opening its doors in 1993. Its 63 cupolas symbolize Nicaragua’s 63 Catholic churches.

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Arboretum Nacional are lovely gardens which feature over 200 species of plants and are divided into Nicaragua’s five major life zones. With your fee, you get a guided tour. You will see madrino, the national tree and sacuanjoche, the national flower.

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Parque El Carmen is a lovely park where people can relax surrounded by greenery. There are a playground and a kiosk that sells snacks and cold drinks. Take the time to look around the opulent homes in this area.

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Parque Japones is a pleasant Japanese-style park with lots of trees, paths for walking and children’s playgrounds.

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Codice Espacio Cultural is the best place to see great contemporary art.

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Malecon is a pier which has benefited from the Puerto Salvador Allende tourist complex at its base. The area is popular with local families on weekends.

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National Assembly Pedestrian Walk is the place to go to see open-air exhibits on Nicaragua’s history. You can see historic photos of Sandino and pre-earthquake photos of Managua.

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Plaza de la Revolucion is an open plaza that was inaugurated in 1899 by the national hero and original anti-American General Jose Santos Zelaya. On the northeast side of the plaza is the tomb of Sandinista commander Carlos Fonseca.

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Parque Historico Nacional Loma de Tiscapa is a park that is home to Managua’s most recognizable landmark, Sandino’s somber silhouette. This national historic park was once the site of the Casa Presidencial, where Sandino and his men were executed in 1934. The parking structure here was for decades one of Nicaragua’s most notorious prisons.

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Parque de la Paz Is Managua’s Peace Park with its signature lighthouse. The park was inaugurated in 1990 by then President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro. They interred machine guns, pistols and a tank in concrete so symbolically burying Nicaragua’s bellicose past.

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Monumento a Ruben Dario can be found on the lakeside of Plaza de la Revolucion. It offers the likeness of Nicaragua’s favorite son.

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Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario is an oblong structure near the lake where you can get a feel of Nicaraguan art and culture.

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Monumento Roosevelt was constructed in 1939 and offers wonderful lake views. It is a memorial to all those who were killed in the revolution.

Monumento de Montoya

Estatua de Montoya is a statue dedicated to national hero Ramon Montoya, a Nicaraguan soldier, who died at the age of 14 in 1907.

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Monumento al Trabajador Nicaraguense is a monument to Nicaraguan workers.

Looking at Nicaragua

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When visiting the country city of Granada you’ll get a real feel of Nicaraguan history. The city is located on the northwest coast of Lake Nicaragua and is the oldest city in Central America. It offers visitors impressive colonial architecture, authentic Nicaraguan shops, horse-drawn carriages and historic cafes.

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Ometepe Island consists of two active volcanoes surrounded by lush tropical forest right in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. It is said that the island has been inhabited since 2000 – 2500 B.C. You can canoe through lagoons and rivers, ride horseback, bicycle to lovely white sand beaches or take a bus from village to village.

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Leon is the second largest city in Nicaragua located along the Chiquito River. You can see some impressive Spanish colonial architecture

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and it is home to the Cathedral of Assumption which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built between 1706 and 1740. The original city of Leon was

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established in 1524 but after an eruption of the Momotombo volcano inhabitants abandoned the city in 1610. Afterward, Leon was moved next to the indigenous town of Subtiana.

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Today the ruins of the old city, known as Leon Viejo, have a cellar where the remains of Leon’s founder can be found. This archeological site was also declared a World Heritage site.

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Corn Island can be found 45 miles off the Caribbean shore of Nicaragua. It is a tiny island that is a lovely tropical paradise. English is the first language. Visitors enjoy scuba diving and deep sea fishing.

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San Juan del Sur is the most popular beach destination in Nicaragua. All the beaches are lapped by warm water. There is great surfing. Here you’ll find the second-largest statue of Jesus in the world.

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Masaya Volcan National Park is home to the Masaya volcano. This national park was one of the first in the country, established in 1979. There are 20km of scenic roads and trails. You can see two impressive volcanoes and five formidable craters that continuously emit smoke and sulfur gasses. The indigenous Chorotega tribe refer to the Masaya volcano as Popogatepe – “mountain that burns”. They believed that the eruptions were a sign of anger from the gods and human sacrifices were offered. The Spanish conquerors named it La Boca del Infierno or the mouth of hell. Thinking it would exorcise the devil from the volcano they placed a cross on the crater during the 16th century.

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Today this national park is home to various vegetation and animals among them coyotes, skunks, raccoons, possums, iguanas, and monkeys. In the Tzinaconostoc Cave hundreds of bats live and underground tunnels were formed by lava streams with unusual rock formations.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | March 4, 2018

Beautiful Honduras


Honduras is a Central American country that has coastlines with the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. There is an amazing tropical rainforest near Guatemala. You’ll be amazed by the fascinating Bay Islands. This is a diving destination which is part of the 1,000km-long Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.

Interesting Tegucigalpa

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Tegucigalpa is the capital of Honduras. It sits in a central valley that is surrounded by mountains.

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Museo para la Identidad Nacional is the finest museum in the city. It has found its home in the renovated, former Palace of Ministries. The museum offers a look into the nation’s history and identity through a series of modern exhibits. Even though the displays are in Spanish there are free guided tours available in English. Four times a day the 3D film Tour of the Copan Ruins is shown.  

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 Centro de la Cultura Garinagu de Honduras is located right on the Parque Morazan. Here you’ll find handicrafts, clothing, and tools on display. There is a library and information about the Garifuna people. You can get information here about where the Garifuna dance troupes are performing their very athletic and incredible dance moves.

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Basilica de Suyapa is the most important church in Tegucigalpa as well as in all of Honduras. La Virgen de Suyapa is the patron saint of Honduras. In 1982 a papal decree made her the patron saint of all Central America. The basilica is known for its large stained glass windows.

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Iglesia Los Dolores is an impressive church and offers some religious art. The facade of the church has figures which represent the Passion of Christ. You can see his un-seamed cloak, the rooster that crowed three times and all of these are crowned by the symbol of the sun.

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At the center of the city is Plaza Morazan also referred to as Parque Central. Here you can people watch and mingle.

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There is a statue of former President Francisco Morazan on horseback right in the center.

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Iglesia La Merced in 1847 the La Merced Convent was converted to house Hondura’s first university. Later it became the country’s national gallery until 2015. This building is worth taking a look at and has impressive paintings inside.

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Palacio Legislativo is a unique modern building on stilts. This is where Congress meets.

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Monumento a La Paz can be found in the city’s largest park. It was erected in 1996 in the name of the eternal peace between the “fraternal nations of Central America”.

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Monumento a Simon Bolivar is a monument to Latin America’s great liberator. It is located at a busy junction in the city’s well-to-do Colonia Palmira area.

Exploring Honduras

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The largest and most developed of the Bay Islands is Roatan. Today it is a cruise ship port and popular tourist spot. In the center of the island is a mountainous backbone and coral reefs line its shores. Visitors enjoy diving, snorkeling and deep-sea fishing.

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The beaches are lovely and one of the best is West Bay Beach.  You’ll enjoy crystal clear waters and swaying palms and there are lots of shops and restaurants nearby.

The cultural center of Roatan is the small community of Sandy Bay. Among the top attractions here are:

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The Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences with dolphin encounters. Found on the northwest coast at Anthony’s Key Resort. It educates visitors about marine ecology and offers encounters with dolphins in a natural lagoon. You can enjoy swimming and snorkeling with dolphins. Those studying to be marine biologists can sign-up for the “Dolphin Trainer for a Day” program and at the end perform their own dolphin show.

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The Carambola Gardens is a favorite among nature lovers.

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The Roatan Marine Park has great snorkeling.

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At the Roatan Butterfly Garden, you’ll find butterfly species native to Honduras and the Bay Islands.

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French Harbor is Roatan’s biggest fishing port.

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A popular site here is Arch’s Iguana and Marine Park.

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Copan Ruins Archeological Site is the most studied Maya city in the world. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It dates back to almost 2,000 years. The site is famous for the stelae and altars, scattered around the immense plaza.

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Other highlights here include the ball court, the Hieroglyphic Stairway, an impressive temple, holding the longest known Mayan text

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and the Acropolis which features carved reliefs of the 16 kings of Copan.

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Not far from the site is the Museum of Mayan Sculpture, displaying a series of original pieces of sculpture, stelae, and altars that were recovered here. The museum tunnels through a hillside, opening up into a vast sunlit open space. The highlight here is the impressive Rosalila Temple.

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Utila is the most budget-friendly of the Bay Islands. Backpackers love this island. The main settlement is Utila Town. Visitors enjoy the beaches and snorkeling in the lagoon.

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You can enjoy diving or swim with whale sharks.

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Little French Key is an eco-friendly tropical paradise. You can find hammocks strung between coconut palms, crystal clear waters and great snorkeling. There is a white sand beach with kayaks and chaise lounges. Restaurants offer fresh seafood. Take the time to visit the wildlife sanctuary where you can see rescue animals like monkeys, deer, and toucans.

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La Tigra National Park is an unspoiled park that preserves a lush cloud forest that is home to ocelots, pumas, and monkeys. There are over 200 bird species among them toucans, trogons, and quetzal. There are well-marked hiking trails that take you through thick forest. At the visitor center, you can get maps and park information. If you prefer you can arrange for a guide. This is one of the most visited parks in Honduras.

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Lancetilla Botanical Gardens are the second largest tropical botanical gardens in the world. They were established in 1926. There are wonderful groves of trees from Central America and other tropical regions. Here you can find over 200 species of tropical birds due to the abundance of fruit trees. There are many lovely paths such as one that leads you through a tunnel of bamboo trees to a swimming hole in the Lancetilla River.

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Carambola Botanical Gardens & Trails offer trails winding through forests of fruit trees, palms, ferns, orchids, spices, and mahogany. Follow the mountain paths to get awesome views out over the Caribbean. It is possible to see jumping dolphins. There are many colorful birds and you can see Roatan Anoli lizards and parades of leafcutter ants. Within the gardens you/’ll find Iguana Wall a sheer section of cliff that is a breeding area for iguanas and parrots.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 28, 2018

Amazing Guatemala


Guatemala is a Central American country located south of Mexico. it offers visitors volcanoes, rainforests and ancient Mayan sites.

City Known for its Mayan Sites 

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Guatemala City the capital of Guatemala is known for its Mayan history. It is located at a high altitude and surrounded by volcanoes.

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Parque Central the city’s central plaza is a great place to begin your travels to other Zona 1 sites.

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During the daytime, both Parque Central and the adjoining Parque Centenario are great places to people watch, enjoy the sun, and buy ice cream from the ice cream vendors. 

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Palacio Nacional de la Cultura is located o the north side of Parque Central. This is an impressive presidential palace that was built between 1936 and 1943. This is the third palace to stand on this site. It was constructed in different styles like Spanish Renaissance and neo-Classical. Today it is a museum and some ceremonial events are held here.

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Visitors can get a guided tour also available in English. You’ll see gleaming brass, polished wood, carved stone and frescoed arches. There is an optimal mural of Guatemalan history by Alberto Galvez Suarez above the main staircase. In the reception hall is a two-ton gold, bronze, and Bohemian-crystal chandelier. In the banqueting hall, you can see stained-glass panels. There is an interesting view of the city from the presidential balcony.

guat palacio-nacional hands

In the western courtyard, the Patio de la Paz is a monument depicting two hands and stands where Guatemala’s Peace Accords were signed in 1996. At 11 AM each day a military guard changes the rose held in the hands. The rose from the previous day is tossed among the women spectators.

guat museo-miraflores

Museo Miraflores is an impressive modern museum sandwiched between two shopping malls, a few kilometers out of the city. Downstairs you’ll find objects that were found at Kaminaljuyu (an ancient Mayan city). There are trade route maps that show the site’s importance. Upstairs are displays of textiles and indigenous clothing that have been separated by region from around the country. There are signs in both English and Spanish.

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Outback is a lovely grassy area with paths to walk and benches to sit on.

guat kam

Parque Arqueologico Kaminaljuyu here you’ll find remnants of one of the first important cities in the Maya region. The park is located 4km west of the city center. From about 400 BC to AD 100 ancient Kaminaljuyu had thousands of residents and many temples.

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There are large-scale carvings and this ancient city has a literate elite before anywhere else in the Maya world. It fell into ruin under the hands of invaders from Teotihuacan in central Mexico. Today you can just see a small portion of the ancient city and a good many of the remnants consist of grassy mounds. To the left of the entrance is La Acropolis, where you can explore excavations of a ball court and talud-tablero buildings from AD 450 to 550. Across the road are two burial statues from the late pre-Classic era.


guat ixchel

Museo Ixchel was named for the Maya goddess of the moon, women, reproduction, and textiles. There are photos and exhibits of indigenous costumes and other crafts that show the traditional arts. Guided tours are available in English or Spanish. There is also a section for children, a cafe, a shop and a library.

guat relief

Mapa en Relieve north of Zona 1, is Zona 2 which is a middle-class residential district. It is worth stopping by here to see the huge open-air map of Guatemala that shows the country at a scale of 1:10,000. Its vertical scale is exaggerated to 1:2000 to make the volcanoes and mountains appear to be higher and steeper.

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It was constructed in 1905 under the direction of Francisco Vela and fully restored and re-painted in 1999. It is just a short walk from Parque Central.

guat metropolitana

Catedral Metropolitana faces Parque Central and was constructed between `782 and 1815. In 1867 the towers were completed. It is a lovely building that has survived many earthquakes.

guat casa mima

Casa MIMA is a museum and cultural center dating from the late 1800s. The owners of the house were collectors who collected items of French neo-Rococo, Chinese and art deco as well as indigenous artifacts. It has been set up as a functioning house that is filled with curios and furniture spanning the centuries.

guat art

Museo Nacional de Arte is home to a collection of 20th-century Guatemalan art that includes the artworks of well-known Guatemalan artists like Carlos Merida, Carlos Valente, and Humberto Gavarito.

guat zoo

La Aurora Zoo is a large zoological park and one of the best zoos in Central America. It was established in 1924. It is divided into different regions of the world.

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In the Africa section, you can see zebras, lions, buffalos and three species of Asian monkeys like the howlers. Other sections are Asia, America, and Oceania.

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You can stroll through the landscaped gardens and relax in the shade of the trees. There are games for children and a small theater. You can enjoy dining at the restaurants.

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Jardin Botanico is a large and lush botanic garden on the northern edge of Zona 10. It was the first botanic garden in Central America and is the only one in Guatemala. Here you can find over 1,400 varieties of local and exotic plants among them many endangered species. All the exhibits are labeled in their common name in Spanish and scientific name in Latin.

guat banco

Banco de Guatemala is an impressive bank building that features relief sculptures by Dagoberto Vasquez that depict the country’s history.

guat centro civico

Centro Civico found in Zona 4 it is a set of large government and institutional buildings that were built during the 1950s and 1960s. One is the headquarters of INGUAT the Guatemalan tourist institute that is home to the city’s main tourist office.

guat reform

Torre del Reformador is a medium-scale reproduction of the Eiffel Tower sitting in the middle of Zone 9.

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Near Centro Civico is the Palacio de Justicia.

Traveling in Guatemala

guat tikal

Tikal a well-preserved ruined city can be found in the humid jungle of northern Guatemala, near the Belize border. It was occupied between 600 BC and AD 900. Here you can see over 3,000 structures from pyramids to temples to plazas and an acropolis. For over a thousand years it was one of the most important urban Mayan centers.

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Today it is one of the largest Mayan archeological sites of its time period still in existence. You can see steep pyramids rising above the jungle and see birds, monkeys, and other wildlife. The ruins are encompassed by the Tikal National Park a biosphere reserve that protects the rainforest and wildlife habitat.

guat antigua

Antigua is one of the highlights in Guatemala. It sits surrounded by volcanoes. You can see cobbled streets and old colonial buildings. The city offers museums for visitors and lovely old convents to explore. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

guat lake-atitlan

Lake Atitlan is a lovely lake that sits at 1,538 meters above sea level and is surrounded by hills and volcanoes. It was formed in a volcanic crater. Along its shore are quaint villages.

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The main entry point is the city of Panajachel. Its main street is lined by vendors selling all kinds of goods. Boats line up here to take visitors to the village by the lake.

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Quetzaltenango is the second-largest city in Guatemala and is the commercial center of southwestern Guatemala. It is also referred to as Xela.

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The town’s major sites are the Parque Centro America and the buildings that surround it. Its cathedral dates from the 19th century. Many visitors come here to study Spanish. You can take hikes in the nearby mountains and walk up Volcan Tajumulco, the highest peak in Central America. It is also a base for excursions to the nearby villages that have hot springs and sell handicrafts.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 25, 2018

Interesting El Salvador


In our armchair travels, we’ve arrived in El Salvador, a small country in Central America. Now this country might not have gotten a place on your travel wish lists but take a closer look at it and see that it does deserve to be noticed. You can find Pacific Ocean beaches, enjoy surfing, marvel at rainforests with waterfalls and fascinating cities and towns. So sit back and enjoy the tour.

El Salvador’s Largest City

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San Salvador is not only the largest city but also the capital of this country. It is the country’s political, cultural, educational and financial center.

el rosario entrance

Iglesia El Rosario is a wonderful church that was designed by sculptor Ruben Martinez and completed in 1971.


It can be looked at as the finest church in Central America with an arched roof and natural light that reflects like a rainbow across the altar and shines off the metal and rock.

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The most dramatic effect of light occurs in the late afternoon. It is the final resting place of Padre Delgado who was the Father of Central American Independence.

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Catedral Metropolitana is the most significant landmark in San Salvador and faces

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the Plaza Barrios. It is the final resting place of Archbishop Oscar A. Romero who always criticized the government from his pulpit at the height of the Civil War. As a result, he was assassinated while giving mass at a nearby hospital.

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Even earthquakes have not been able to destroy the blue-and-yellow-checked dome which is an everlasting symbol of national pride.

el laguna

Jardin Botanico La Laguna delights visitors with moss-covered bridges, pebbled paths, and small waterfalls which are home to frogs, turtles, and fish.

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The fascinating thing is that this botanical garden is found at the bottom of a volcanic crater from which you can see many Salvadoran plant species come to life.

el arbol

El Arbol de Dios or God’s Tree is an institute that is dedicated to the artwork of world-famous painter Fernando Llort.

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On display are some sophisticated pieces that differ from his better-known wood paintings. You can find artwork for sale at reasonable prices as well.

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Museo de Arte de El Salvador offers an impressive collection of sketches and paintings that track the development of prominent local and foreign artists. There is a small restaurant on the premises and on Sundays the museum is free.

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The museum is located up the hill behind the large Monumento a la Revolucion.

 el Palacio_Nacional_de_San_Salvador

The Palacio Nacional was built in the early 20th century of Italian marble. Until the 1986 earthquake, it was the government headquarters. Many of the rooms still have remnants of the early governance.

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There is a delightful courtyard.

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It is located on the west side of Plaza Barrios.

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On the south end of Plaza Barrios is the impressive Biblioteca Nacional.

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Teatro National was renovated in the French Classical-style in the mid-20th century.

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The Gothic towers of the Iglesia El Calvario are quite impressive and there is a lovely interior.

Taking a Look at El Salvador


Northwest of San Salvador you’ll find La Palma which is the town where national artist Fernando Llort taught.

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He captured the hearts of the El Salvadoran people and turned La Palma into a nationally recognized artistic hub. Today many of the residents practice Llort’s artistic style.La Palma is worth a visit for its many galleries and workshops and wonderful artistic heritage. You can find quaint Llort-inspired souvenirs. Stop by the mosaic Central Park.

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Suchitoto is one of the few towns in El Salvador that still retains its colonial architecture. Here you can find lovely panoramic views and quaint cobblestone streets.

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One of its most popular sites is the Museo de los Recuerdos Alejandro Coto, offering beautiful grounds, colonial architecture, great views and classic fountains as well as one of the country’s most impressive art collections.

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Further down the road, you’ll find the 39-foot tall Los Tercios Waterfall

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and the Aqua Calienter with hot springs.

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Joya de Ceren is a well-preserved Mayan village. This village was abandoned during the eruption of Laguna de Caldera in 640 AD.

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The town was buried under volcanic ash and it wasn’t until 1976 that it was discovered.


Santa Ana is the second largest city in El Salvador.

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It’s a beautiful city with an early 20th-century neo-Gothic cathedral,

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Teatro de Santa Ana an elaborately decorated theater

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and Parque Libertad, a picturesque main square.

el tazumal

Tazumal was founded around 400 AD. It’s a unique cluster of step pyramids among which the tallest reaches up to 75 feet in height (the largest in the country). Its autonomous status lasted up to the time when the Spanish forces moved into El Salvador in the 1520s, after which the local people were conquered and exploited.

el tazumal boggs museum

Visit the on-site Stanley H. Boggs Museum which displays artifacts that were uncovered during the excavation. You can see incense burners, potter, and statues reflection the past of Tazumal. The most notable item in the museum is the Stone of Victories statue.

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Lago de Coatepeque or Caldera Coatepeque is a lake that is located right in the heart of a volcanic crater. It is one of the largest lakes in El Salvador. It was formed nearly 72,000 years ago by a series of violent eruptions and volcanic collapses.

Lago de Coatepeque

There are pristine waters great for swimming. You can participate in many water sports like jet skiing and scuba diving. Visitors enjoy taking a ferry ride to Teopan Island, in the center of the lake, motorboat excursions, and lake tours.

el cerre verde

Cerre Verde National Park is home to three amazing volcanoes – Izalco, Santa Ana and Cerro Verde. This is the place you can find one of the country’s few cloud forests and has a great hiking trail. The Window to Nature Trail will take you through the oldest forest in the park, through the crater and past century-old trees. There is amazing flora and fauna, guided bird watching, horseback riding tour and great views of the volcanoes.

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Except for Cerro Verde the other two volcanoes have a long history of eruptions. Izalco was once referred to as the “Lighthouse of the Pacific” and Santa Ana is one of the most popular climbs in the country and is the most active of the three.

el libertad

La Libertad or Freedom is a small port that was named after El Salvador gained independence from Spain. Here you can find a quaint port and some of the best beaches for shore angling and surfing. You can join organized fishing trips.

el costa

Costa del Sol a sandy beach just 30 minutes from the San Salvador Airport is becoming a popular tourist spot. It has been divided into three sections – San Marcellino, Los Blancos and Costa del Sol, a wide beach popular for sporting events.

el estuary

One of the highlights of the area is a mangrove boat tour of the Jaltepeque estuary. This is a protected area that is home to various bird and fish species.  A three-hour boat ride from La Puntilla takes visitors through mangrove tunnels and to where the country’s longest river, Rio Lempe, meets the Pacific Ocean.

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Another popular attraction is Atlantis Water Park with activities like slides, swimming pools, and floating rides.

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El Tunco is one of the most popular of the northern coastal towns. It was named after the “pig-shaped” rock off its coast.

el tunco


Surfers love this place and can take surf classes and rent boards. There are plenty of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes.

el san miguel

San Miguel is the country’s largest and most populated city. There are many great landmarks in the historical downtown

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among them the 19th-century Cathedral

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and Francisco Gavidia Theater. Take a look at the action at the San Miguel Market. 

el san vincente volcano

Visitors love to take a look at the San Vicente Volcano with some challenging hiking trails.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 21, 2018

Traveling in Costa Rica


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Visitors enjoy seeing the wildlife and enjoying the beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park. The park has endless stretches of sand and dense forest.

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Guided walks are available through the park. Even on your own, you’ll have fun spotting howler monkeys,  squirrel monkey, capuchins, sloths and many different types of birds.

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You’ll also enjoy taking a look at the small town of Manuel Antonio. There is a lovely oceanfront beach where you can see soccer games and surfers enjoying the waves. You can wander through the stores on the hillside and relax at the restaurants.

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The Arenal Volcano National Park is located in the rugged Cordillera de Tilaran and is one of the top volcano viewing areas in the country. The main attraction here is the Arenal Volcano that reaches 1,633 meters. It was dormant from 1500 AD until a massive eruption occurred on July 29, 1968, killing 82 people and destroying two villages. Ever since there has been regular volcanic activity.

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The park is also well-known for its wide range of biodiversity with about half of all Costa Rican birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals.

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The Arenal Observatory Lodge was established in 1987 and is the only lodge within the Arenal Volcano National Park boundaries. It is located on a macadamia nut farm on the south side of the volcano.

rica arenal lake

From the lodge, visitors can get awesome views of the volcano and Arenal Lake. There are numerous hiking trails which lead to waterfalls or old and recent lava flows.

The Cloud Forests have become popular ecotourism destinations in Costa Rica. Here visitors can see unique plants and wildlife. There are clouds covering the forests that provide moisture. There is also plenty of bird watching to do in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

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and the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve.

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You can see all kinds of mammals and amphibians. There are jaguars, pumas, monkeys and even frogs among others. One of the best ways to see everything is to take an organized hike. There are also canopy tours.

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The two main tourist centers are Monteverde and Santa Elena offering accommodation, restaurants, shops and art galleries.

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If you’re looking for a tropical backpacker’s haven head for Dominical. You’ll find dirt streets, lovely beaches, cheap accommodation, open-air restaurants and an easy kind of lifestyle. It is loved by surfers. If you prefer you can find small luxury inns and bed and breakfast place on the outskirts or in the hill that overlooks the town. You can see howler monkeys and toucans.

The town is known for its wide stretch of open beach, with shady trees and vendors who set up tables and sell crafts.

ricas playa grande turtle

Tamarindo on the Nicoya Peninsula is a great place for surfing and relaxing on the beach. This was once a fishing village that turned into a tourist haven. Visitors can find great accommodation and good food. The town stretches along the Tamarindo Beach. For surfers, the biggest waves can be caught in November and December. The area around here is known for its eco-friendly adventures. Some of the activities here include snorkeling, diving, horseback riding, zip-lining and turtle watching. Nearby you’ll find Playa Grande which is one of Costa Rica’s most important nesting grounds for leatherback turtles. In October and March over 100 turtles can be found nesting and laying their eggs overnight.

rica tort

Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast can be accessed only by boat or plane. This is an important breeding ground for the green sea turtle and turtle watching is one of the top activities here. There are many beaches but they are not suitable for swimming since the currents are rough and strong. Sharks come around too. There are hiking trails and you can take boat rides along the canals. Visitors enjoy seeing the monkeys, sloths, and kinkajous.

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Other wildlife includes peccaries, tapirs, freshwater turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, and toads.

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In the far south of Costa Rica, you’ll find the remote Osa Peninsula. This is the place where you can find some of Central America’s best stretches of coastal rainforest. Some of the popular activities are diving, snorkeling, and fishing. Puerto Jimenez is the area’s largest town.

rica corco

Corcovado National Park was established in 1975 and protects what is looked at as the best remaining stretch of Pacific coastal rainforest in Central America. There is an extensive trail system and visitors enjoy taking long-distance hikes.

rica irazu

The Irazu Volcano is the highest active volcano in Costa Rica at 3,342 meters. The summit of the volcano is a lunar-like landscape with craters. Marked trails lead to the craters.

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Braulio Carrillo National Park there are rugged mountains, waterfalls, canyons, dormant volcanoes and virgin rainforest. It is close to the main gateway of Costa Rica and here you can see unique plants and wildlife. There is the Barva Volcano and the Caribbean lowlands. You can see jaguars, pumas, tapirs, sloths, and monkeys. Among bird species, there are the Quetzal the national bird, toucans, and eagles.

rica rincon

The Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is the main attraction in the park. The last time the volcano erupted was in 2011 so the hiking trails to the top are not open. There are plenty of trails that lead to waterfalls and hot spring. You can see tapirs, sloths, monkeys, jaguars, puma, and ocelot.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 18, 2018

Sensational San Jose


We’ve arrived in Costa Rica, a rugged country with rainforests in Central America with coastlines on the Caribbean and Pacific.  The country is known for its beaches, volcanoes, and biodiversity.

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Its capital is San Jose, sitting in the Central Valley region with the Talamanca Mountains to the south and volcanoes to the north.

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Plaza de la Cultura is a concrete plaza right in the heart of downtown. Here you can people watch while enjoying the sunshine. There are juggling clowns to entertain and vendors selling wares.

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Teatro Nacional is located on the southern side of the Plaza de la Cultura. It was constructed in 1897 and has a neo-Classical facade that is flanked by statues of Beethoven and famous 17th-century Spanish dramatist Claderon de la Barca. You’ll be impressed by the marble lobby and the auditorium that is lined with paintings, depicting 19th-century life. There are hourly tours available and you can relax in the cafe.

costa jade

Museo de Jade is home to the world’s largest collection of American jade. There are five floors offering seven exhibits. You can see nearly 7000 finely carved, well-conserved pieces, from translucent jade carvings that depict fertility goddesses, shamans, frogs and snakes to amazing ceramics including a unique ceramic head that displays a row of serrated teeth. There is a museum cafe.

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Museo de Oro Pre-Colombino y Numismatica is a three-in-one museum with an extensive collection of Costa Rica’s most priceless pieces of pre-Columbian gold and other artifacts among them historical currency and some contemporary regional art. The museum is located underneath the Plaza de la Cultura.

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Museo Nacional de Costa Rica is entered through a lovely glassed-in atrium that houses an exotic butterfly garden. You can see exhibits of pre-Columbian pieces as well as artifacts from the colony and the early republic. All of these are housed in the old Bellavista Fortress which once served historically as the army headquarters and saw fierce fighting in the 1948 civil war. Here President Jose Figueres Ferrer announced in 1949 that he was abolishing the country’s military. Among the most notable pieces here is the fountain pen that Figueres used to sign the 1949 constitution.

The period galleries in the northeast corner feature turn-of-the-20th-century furnishings and decor from the time that these rooms served as the private residences of the fort’s various commanders.

costa barrio amon

Barrio Amon is a pleasant and historic neighborhood. Here you can find a cluster of coffee grower mansions that were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the historic buildings have been converted into hotels, restaurants, and offices. This is a key arts center.

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Museo de los Ninos & Galeria Nacional is two museums in one. It has found its home in an old penitentiary that was built in 1909. It is part children’s museum and part art gallery. Small children love the hands-on exhibits relating to science, geography and natural history. Adults enjoy the contemporary art displayed in abandoned prison cells.

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Parque Nacional is one of the nicest green spaces in the city. There are shady spots to relax and benches to sit on.

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At the center is the Monumento Nacional, a 1953 statue that depicts the Central American nations driving out North American filibuster William Walker. There are other monuments that are devoted to Latin American historical figures among them Cuban poet, essayist and revolutionary Jose Marti, Mexican independence figure Miguel Hidalgo and 18th-century Venezuelan humanist Andres Bello.

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Across the street stands the Asamblea Legislativa, with an important statue of Juan Santamaria, the young man who helped get Walker out of Costa Rica.

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Refugio Herpetologico de Costa Rica where you can see on display snakes, turtles, caimans and a large crocodile.

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There are also some resident spiders and capuchin monkeys and a couple of ocelots.

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Catedral Metropolitana was built in 1871. It has a neo-Classical interior with colorful Spanish-tile floors, stained glass windows and a Christ figure. On the north side of the nave, you’ll find a recumbent Christ, dating back to 1878 that draws devout Ticos, who come to pray and deposit pleas that have been written on small slips of paper.

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Parque Morazan was named for Francisco Morazin, the 19th century general who attempted to unite the Central American nations under a single flag. This park gets illuminated in the evenings.

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At the center is the Temple de Musica, a concrete bandstand that serves as an unofficial symbol of San Jose.

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Teatro Melico Salazar is located on the north side of Parque Central and was built in 1928 in Beaux-Arts style. It was named after Costa Rican tenor Melico Salazar, who performed internationally. It was the site of the 2002 presidential inauguration and regularly hosts plays, concerts and other cultural events.

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Spirogyra Jardin de Mariposas is home to over 30 species of butterfly including the luminescent blue morpho – in plant-filled enclosures.

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Monumento Leon Cortes this bronze statue of the 1930s Costa Rican president stands at the eastern entrance to La Sabana Park.

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Posted by: RasmaSandra | February 15, 2018

Amazing Belize


Belize offers many adventures where you can commune with nature and enjoy hiking. kayaking, fishing, and many other exciting things.

The Capital City Belmopan

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Belmopan offers many adventures and national parks to explore nearby.

In the city take a walk through Market Square to see the local shops and enjoy some fine dining.

Independence Square is where you’ll find the prime minister’s offices and the National Assembly Building.

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The National Assembly Building of Belize is located in the heart of Belmopan and is home to the two houses of Parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate. This building was designed to look like a Mayan temple.

belize blue hole swimming

Blue Hole National Park includes St. Herman’s Cave which is one of the few caves in Belize that tourists can visit independently. You can rent flashlights at the visitors center. There is a path that leads 200 yards into the cave alongside an underground river. On the way back go along Highland Trail with rope guides for some spectacular views. If you prefer a longer hike take the three-hour trail from Crystal Cave.

The Blue Hole also has a 25ft.-deep swimming hole.

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Guanacaste National Park is Belize’s smallest national park.

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It was named for the giant Guanacaste tree on the southwestern edge. The park is framed by Roaring Creek and the Belize River. There are two miles of hiking trails with many local trees and colorful birds. The best time for birding here is in the winter when migrants arrive from North America. Guanacaste Trail has a timber deck leading down to the river where there is a deep waterhole for swimming.

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George Price Center for Peace & Development is a museum and conference center, celebrating the life of Belize’s beloved statesman and first prime minister after independence, George Price. There are photos and information panels and an archive of documents and letters written by Price.

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Barquedier Waterfall is a wonderful waterfall that cascades down into a swimming hole.

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The Belize Zoo was established in 1983. Today it is the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center and exhibits more than 175 animals that represent over 45 native species.

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There are summer camps, teacher and tour guide workshops and student career training.

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Leaving Belmopan behind we can explore Ambergris Caye.  It is right off the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula and is the largest of Belize’s 200 caves and a prime tourist destination. Here saltwater fly fishing enthusiasts come here to cast lines for bonefish, tarpon, snook, and barracuda.

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Off the coast, you’ll find Hol Chan Marine Reserve one of the most visited diving and snorkeling sites. It is one of the seven reserves within the Belize Barrier Reef system. 

Among the top attractions in the reserve are Cat’s Eye, a crescent-shaped sinkhole

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Shark Ray Alley where divers have the chance to get close to nurse sharks and southern stingrays.

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San Pedro is the island’s main town and fishing village with colorful clapboard houses. Transport is mainly by golf carts and bikes.

The Ambergris Museum and Cultural Center offers the island’s history from the ancient Mayan traders to the present day.

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Lighthouse Reef Atoll is a great place for nature lovers and divers. Six cayes surround a lagoon with white-sand beaches, coconut palms, and coral formations.

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Here you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage site the Great Blue Hole, a natural monument. When divers plunge into this sinkhole they can see unique limestone stalactites that protrude from the steep walls and schools of reef sharks.

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The most visited caye is the Half Moon Caye. Also a World Heritage site, the Half Moon Caye Natural Monument is a bird sanctuary sheltering a colony of about 4,000 red-footed boobies and other species.

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There are nature trails that lead to observation platforms offering bird’s eye views of nesting boobies and frigate birds.

Visitors also enjoy exploring the island’s lighthouse and relaxing on the lovely beaches.

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Placencia is a popular fishing village and beach resort. Travelers enjoy the white-sand beaches, kayaking, diving and snorkeling and the fresh seafood restaurants.

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Laughing Bird Caye National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site with hiking trails and coral reefs. Popular activities are swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and diving.

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You can have an exciting adventure cruising through the mangroves on the Monkey River where you can see birds, howler monkeys, and crocodiles.

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Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary is where you’ll find a tropical forest with an interesting array of wildlife like jaguars, ocelots, pumas, anteaters, tapirs, monkeys and snakes. There are also many birds such as toucans and scarlet macaws.

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A great way to explore the sanctuary is walking the trails. One of the most popular is the Waterfall Trail with a cascade and swimming hole. There are guided tours available.

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Lamanal Archaeological Reserve is found in the lush jungle on the banks of New River. Lamanal is the most famous archaeological site in northern Belize and is one of its largest ceremonial centers. The name means “submerged crocodile” in the Mayan language. There are several ruined churches here and the archaeological site features over 900 structures as well as a museum with exhibits of pottery, figurines and jade jewelry.

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Among the highlights are the Mask Temple,

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Temple of the Jaguar

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and the High Temple, which can be climbed for panoramic jungle views.

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Caracol Natural Monument Reservation sits on the Vaca Plateau, 152 meters above sea level. Caracol is the largest archaeological site in Belize. The ruins of this Mayan city are found deep in the jungles of the Chiquibul National Park near the Guatemalan border.

belize pyramid

An interesting feature is the 43-meter high Caana (Sky Palace) Pyramid, Caracol’s tallest structure. It is also the tallest human-made structure in all of Belize and offers fantastic views of the site and surrounding jungle. Among the ruins, you can find big cats, howler monkeys and birds like toucans. Beyond here are a series of limestone karat caves which are believed to be the largest of their kind in the Western Hemisphere.

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