Imagine how Frederick Catherwood and John Lloyd Stephens must have felt upon seeing the vine wrapped, overgrown, abandoned cities and temples of the ancient Maya in their expeditions of the 1830s and 40s. The unique Maya site of El Pilar offers that same experience: the monuments are still embraced by the forest, showcasing the Maya foliage as much as the Maya city itself. We call the style of presentation practiced at El Pilar “Archeology Under the Canopy,” where the ancient monuments are protected by the natural habitat that envelops them.
The El Pilar model has created a new niche for those looking for a genuine Maya forest experience off the beaten track. Tours of the Maya monuments have drawn increasingly more visitors and have always focused on aspects that provide the best examples of a facet of the ancient Maya life. In fact, everyday Maya life can still be experienced in the surrounding villages of El Pilar, where the rich cultural heritage of the Maya people has been maintained. The management model at El Pilar incorporates this community, leading to a rewarding collaboration with the stewards of Maya culture: traditional Maya farmers. El Pilar Archeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna has become a place of imagination that welcomes adventurers, scholars, and conservationists.