A group of 71 young people, among the top students at their schools, have concluded the expedition dubbed the "2011 Maya Route: In Search of Chichen Itza and Other Marvels," a month-long tour of the chief archaeological sites of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Southern Mexico.

"The purpose was to get to know and learn about the culture of the Mayan people, and to come in contact with the poorest, most marginalized Indian communities in the area," expedition director Ruben La Torre said in an interview with Efe.

Students ages 18-24 took part the tour, which set out last July 2 from the indigenous community of Izalco, El Salvador, and ended this Thursday at Mexico's Chichen Itza.

The young people, mostly from Spain but also from Belgium, Italy, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia and other countries "heard about the history of the conquered natives and were able to visualize the early indigenous peoples."

According to La Torre, the expedition brought the young people in contact with "present-day reality, but also the history of the archaeological sanctuaries and their original inhabitants."

Among the more representative sites, he said, was Celaque Natural Park, the highest point in Honduras at more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) above sea level.

"In the city of Gracias we walked the streets, we learned about the Lenca Indians and about Lempira, an indigenous leader who fought against the Spaniards. We also enjoyed the breathtaking panoramic view from San Cristobal Fortress," he said.

The last part of the tour was in the Mexican state of Yucatan, where they visited the archaeological sites of Uxmal, the magic city of Izamal, colonial Valladolid and the cenotes of Dzitnup, the sacred Mayan sinkholes for sacrificial offerings.

The expedition was organized by the Ruta Inka Association, the Ruta Maya Foundation, as well as various municipal, governmental and university institutions.