>> Tuesday, December 29, 2009
From the Insider's Guide to Chichén Itzá published by the World Heritage Alliance:
Like the slithering shadow that snakes down the Pyramid of Kukulkán at the spring and autumn equinoxes each year, the influx of tourism—which draws 5,000 visitors to this site each day—carries its own threat. Here are eight actions you can take to enjoy, protect, and enhance Chichén Itzá.
• Respect the monuments. The structures of this Maya city are more than a thousand years old. Climbing the monuments is forbidden. Tread lightly and take out all that you carried in.
• Take your time. Give yourself at least four hours to explore all of Chichén, its old city as well as later-period monuments.
• Learn about Maya achievements. The Observatory of Caracol conveys Maya notions of astronomy, time, and math.
• Hire local guides. Support the regional economy and see the site as locals view it by selecting guides that are recommended by community-based tour operators.
• Refrain from bargaining for crafts. Visit the official center for local artisans in the nearby town of Piste.
• Spend the night at a local inn. Stick around after the daytrippers depart for a taste of regional culture and cuisine.
• Explore the region around Chichén. Visit the cave of Balankanché, a Maya ceremonial space, and the Cenote Zací, at the heart of the town of Valladolid.
• Preserve the environment. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
For more information on responsible travel and for ideas about preserving destinations, visit www.friendsofworldheritage.org