Pasión River (Rio La Pasión)
The Pasión River (Río La Pasión) and its tributaries cover nearly 2,000 square miles (5,180 square kilometers) in Guatemala, forming a diverse ecological zone and main transportation source. The river traces the ancient trade route that the Maya used; today visitors use it to access many Maya archeological sites that lie near its shores.
The Pasión River arises in the Sierra de Santa Cruz and flows through the western part of Guatemala’s Petén region. Its dense swamp and jungle habitats are home to crocodiles, iguana, howler monkeys, and several hundred endemic species of birds and fish.
Most visitors explore the area as part of a guided tour from Flores. Tours typically include a scenic cruise up the river and a hike through the rain forest to the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Ceibal Maya Ruins.
Things to Know Before You Go
A Pasión River cruise and visit to the nearby Maya ruins is a must-do for nature and wildlife lovers, and first-time visitors to the region.
For maximum convenience, book a tour that includes round-trip transportation.
Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces, and bring mosquito repellent and a light rain jacket.
How to Get There
Most visitors arrive with a group tour from Flores. If traveling independently, you can access the river via the town of Sayaxché; frequent bus routes that run between Flores and Cobán stop at Sayaxché.
When to Get There
You can visit Guatemala’s Pasión River year-round, though heavy rains may restrict access. The best time to go is during the dry season (November to April). This area receives fewer tourists than Antigua or Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán) and is rarely crowded.
Maya Ruins in Petén
The ancient Maya city of Ceibal was built on several terraces overlooking the Pasión River in Guatemala. It’s one of the best preserved Maya archaeological sites in the region of Petén, and is easily visited on a day trip from Flores. Other nearby Maya archaeological sites include Dos Pilas, Aguateca, Tamarindito, Altar de Sacrificios, and Machaquila.
- Aguateca Archaeological Site
- Seibal (Ceibal)
- Ixpanpajul Natural Park (Parque Natural Ixpanpajul)
- Actún Can Caves
- Petencito Zoo
- Petén Forest
- Lake Peten Itza (Lago Petén Itzá)
- Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)
- Maya Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera Maya)
- Estación Biológica las Guacamayas (EBG)