Recent Searches
Clear

We’re committed to helping you feel confident as you get back out there. Check out our flexible cancellation policies and learn what steps operators are taking to keep you safe. As conditions evolve, check local regulations for the latest information.

Read More

Things to Do in Petén

Category

Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)
star-4.5
91
19 Tours and Activities
Located in El Peten, Tikal is the crown jewel of Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Though it has many of the same beautiful temples as its well-known counterparts in Mexico, Tikal stands apart because of its location deep in the jungle. Trekking like Indiana Jones is not necessary, but the jungle setting is evident as you walk under a thick canopy to explore the plazas, pyramids, and temples of Tikal. Settled around 700 BC, Tikal flourished during the Classic Period, between 200 and 900 AD. As the capital of a conquest state, it served as a center for trade and economy, growing to a population of almost 100,000 before its decline. Some of its more noteworthy characters include Jasaw Chan K'awiil I, also known as Au Cacao (Lord Chocolate!), who conquered the chief rival Mayan state of Calakmul around 695 AD.
Read More
Lake Peten Itza (Lago Petén Itzá)
3 Tours and Activities

Guatemala’s second largest lake, a sparkling expanse at the heart of the hot, humid Petén Basin, was one of the earliest cradles of Mesoamerican civilization. The lush rainforests at its fringe are home to at least 27 archaeological sites, in addition to Flores, capital of Petén Department. Once known as Nojpetén (City Island) by the Itza Mayans, Flores was also their regional capital, and was the last Mayan city to fall to the Spanish, in 1697.

You’re probably staying on the island, a great base for enjoying the lake. Head to the north shore for a walk on the malecón, or jump in for a swim with the locals. The west side boasts lakefront restaurants and bars where you can watch the sunset. Hire a cayuco (small, motorized boats) to other attractions overlooking the water, including ruins, Petencito Zoo, Cerro Cahuí Nature Reserve, “El Museo,” a small archaeological museum, and other towns along the lakeshore.

Read More
Ixpanpajul Natural Park (Parque Natural Ixpanpajul)
1 Tour and Activity

So, you want to explore Guatemala’s subtropical rainforest, but without getting too wild? Ixpanpajul Nature Park offers a several lush and well-maintained ways into the jungle, perfect for a family outing.

The pretty little park preserves 450 hectares (1.7 square miles) of almost untouched rainforest, into which they’ve packed all sorts of activities. The most popular trek is a self-guided hike (a little over an hour) that takes you to several spectacular viewpoints. There are also suspended bridges through the forest canopy, horseback rides, night safaris, birding treks, ATV rentals, and even a Tarzán Zip Line Canopy Tour, if you’re feeling particularly brave.

Though this tiny corner of the jungle has been partially developed, it’s still wild: More than 200 species of trees, 150 birds, and 40 mammals, including three types of monkey, all call the park home. It’s a great half-day trip, but keep in mind that wildlife is most active in the morning and evening.

Read More
Seibal (Ceibal)
2 Tours and Activities

Strategically located above the Pasión River, a once important trade route to the Gulf of Mexico, El Ceibal (also written “Seibal”) is one of the best preserved of Peten’s Mayan cities.

Archaeologists are in awe of elegant ceremonial construction dated to 900BC, among the earliest known monumental architecture in the Mayan world. Most visitors, however, will remember El Ceibal for its remarkably detailed stelae and sculptures, many carved after 800 AD, when the rest of the Mayan Empire was already in a state of collapse. Rendered in unusually hard stone, these detailed portraits and glyphs were influenced by foreign civilizations, and are unusually beautiful. This is why El Ceibal is sometimes called the “Mayan Art Gallery.”

The city was built on several elevated terraces overlooking the river, and is relatively small, covering about one square kilometer (2.5 acres). Plan to spend two or three hours exploring.

Read More
Aguateca Archaeological Site
1 Tour and Activity

The little-touristed ruins of Aguateca are worth the long trip for at least three reasons. First, to get here, you’ll traverse Petexbatún Wildlife Refuge, a birders paradise of mangroves and marshlands, in a motorized canoe. Second, the city was abandoned so suddenly, during a massive attack in 830AD, that everyday relics were preserved Pompeii-style, in place, offering archaeologists an unprecedented look at everyday Mayan life. Finally, Aguateca is strategically located atop a 90-meter (300-foot) limestone bluff, fortified with defensive walls. These form a massive ravine that divides the city, La Grieta, traversed by an old stone bridge. Amazing. More than 700 structures still stand at this site, with its epic views over the Petexbatún Basin, far from the tour buses and casual tourists. Several plaster walls and murals dating from the Classic Period, when Aguateca and neighboring Dos Pilas formed the region’s dominant polity, are unique in the region.

Read More

More Things to Do in Petén

Petencito Zoo

Petencito Zoo

1 Tour and Activity
Learn More
Sayaxché

Sayaxché

1 Tour and Activity
Learn More