Tikal and Peten
In the northern region of Peten lies the mystical ancient city of Tikal. Tikal is home to dense jungle, exotic animals and fascinating Mayan ruins. Animals and birds of all shapes and sizes inhabit the forests that were once home to an intelligent Mayan community. Emerging from the jungle canopy and shrouded in mystery, Tikal commemorates a powerful Mayan past.
The region of El Peten covers nearly one-third of the northern part of the country and is one of Guatemala’s most sparsely populated areas. A large area of El Peten belongs to the Maya Biosphere Reserve, a wildlife haven that stretches from Belize through Guatemala to Mexico. Here, parrots and monkeys far outnumber people and lush lowland jungle holds countless Mayan ruins.
The Tikal archaeological site is by far the most impressive and famous Mayan site, which has a stunning collection of impressive temples in the heart of a vast national park, where howler monkeys are a common sight in the trees above you. Many of the ruins are still hidden under mounds of earth, awaiting excavation. Tikal comprises thousands of well-preserved structures surrounded by wild jungle. Visiting the site early in the morning, you can hear the jungle awakening and see the temples emerge from the early morning mist. It is possible to climb up certain sections of the ruins and take in views over the entire national park.
There is more to the region than just Tikal. Archaeology enthusiasts will also enjoy Yaxhá, which is located on the banks of a beautiful, crocodile-filled lagoon; the impressively restored Ceibal and Aguateca ruins; and Uaxactún, an ancient Mayan city. One of El Petén’s main towns include Flores, which is located on an island on Lake Petén and enjoys fabulous views of the sunsets over the water. The town provides easy access to Tikal, and with its close proximity to the Belize border, this makes for a great destination to combine in a multi-country itinerary.