Saturday, 17 December 2016

Mexico, Palenque, Nututun Hotel by the Chacamax River

Nututun Hotel, Palenque ©Solange Hando

On the edge of the jungle, Nututun claims a quiet riverside location, just a five minute drive from Palenque, one of the great archaeological sites in Mexico. After a hot day exploring the Maya ruins, the Nututun pool complete with jacuzzi is sure to be a welcome sight.

History aside, Nututun is just an hour away from the beautiful Agua Azul  waterfalls, one of the most scenic spots in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

Reception Area, Nututun ©Solange Hando

The thatched open-sided reception doubles up as lounge area close to the river, with accommodation on one side and on the other, the Don Manuel restaurant with balcony overlooking the water.
Besides the swimming pool and bar, Nututun amenities include a spa for beauty treatments, massage, wrap and Aztec sauna. There's also a gift shop and camping area.

Lush Garden, Nututun near Palenque ©Solange Hando

Hotel accommodation is in bungalows and low rise buildings scattered in spacious grounds among palms, hedges and lawns.
It's only a few steps to the river where guests can kayak or swim. There, away from it all, little disturbs the peace but the occasional call of howler monkeys or crickets after dark.

Twin Room at the Nututun ©Solange Hando

The Nututun hotel has 74 rooms from standard (up to 4 guests) to suites, furnished in traditional style with warm bedding and cool walls. Rooms are comfortable and spacious with all modern amenities, including telephone and TV, while suites also have a minibar, large shower room and bath tub.
Rooms have garden or pool view, some with private terrace. Free WiFi is available in public areas.

Dawn on the Chacamax River ©Solange Hando

At breakfast time, early  guests can watch the sun rise all pink and gold over the water as myriad tropical birds welcome the new day.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Tikal, Lost City of the Maya in Guatemala

Tikal Iconic Temple ©Solange Hando

Over 3000 Maya structures are scattered in the Peten jungle but the lost city which gives its name to the National Park is the most impressive.
Early archaeologists cleared a few monuments, such as Temple I seen above, but today, remains are deliberately left in their natural environment, eerie and hauntingly beautiful. Tikal means 'Voices of the Spirits'.

Exploring Tikal ©Solange Hando

It's hot and humid in the subtropical forest but beyond Temple I and nearby structures, the best way  to explore is on foot.
There's plenty to discover along the way, from jungle-covered ruins to rare plants and trees, such as  the 'incense stick' or the tall Ceiba or 'stairway to heaven'.
You might spot howling monkeys up in the trees but small tigers and jaguars keep well away, as do crocs and venomous snakes unless you stray off the well-marked trails.

View from the Top of Temple IV ©Solange Hando

When you approach Temple IV, the highest, only the top peeps above the trees  but a carefully concealed stairway takes you up to a viewing platform. There the jungle unfolds as far as you can see, bristling here and here with abandoned Maya ruins.
There's no better place to reflect on this lost city, founded in 600 BC, a place where arts and science flourished under the watchful eye of the gods and an ongoing building boom catered for up to 100,00 people.

A Colourful Resident ©Solange Hando

Where there's a bench, there's humans and this bright ocellated turkey knows it well, hoping for crumbs as you take a break on your hot 6 km walk around the main complex.
But it's only one of the many creatures you might meet, alongside 352 species of birds and 535 of butterflies.

Expect Lots of Steps ©Solange Hando

Once you've had a rest, there's always more to explore, plazas and palaces, twin pyramids, acropolis,temples, altars, rock sculpture...
Yet all along, one can't help wondering why after 1500 years, this thriving city was abandoned, drought, war, disease, no one knows, but at least it was rediscovered in the 19th century and remains to this day one of the most atmospheric sites in the Maya world.

Lake Tikal ©Solange Hando

After a long day in the jungle, Lake Tikal is just a drive away, the perfect place to relax and enjoy a fabulous sunset.