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The Petén

The rugged, densely forested northeastern appendage of Guatemala, the Petén borders both Belize and Mexico. Although the Petén was once home to hundreds of thousands of inhabitants during the reign of the Maya, is sparsely populated now, and its people live off of basic agriculture, logging and tourism. A vast region, the Petén makes up roughly one-third of Guatemala’s total landmass.

The Petén is primarily of interest to nature lovers and history buffs. The timeless rain forests are home to thousands of species of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects, and the plant life is abundant to say the least. Some of the more interesting ecosystems are protected, but unfortunately the Petén is in danger of losing much of its biodiversity to logging and development.

The Petén’s greatest attraction is, without a doubt, the ruins of the mighty Mayan city of Tikal. One of the most important Mayan sites, Tikal is a sprawling complex containing hundreds of structures, including some of the most spectacular temples in the Americas. In the remote northern part of the Petén, the site of El Mirador is even more impressive, but very difficult to reach. Other important Mayan sites in the Petén include Uaxactun, Yaxha, Seibal and Piedras Negras.

Most visitors to the Petén will use the picturesque town of Flores as their base of operations.









By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
02 Oct 2009

Things to do in The Petén

Tikal

102646Once home to 100,000 Maya, Tikal was one of the most important cities in the Maya empire. It was abandoned when the empire collapsed and re-discovered relatively recently. Today it is one of the most ...
Major Attraction, Ruin
Guatemala

Acrópolis del Sur & Templo V

135189South of Gran Plaza is Acrópolis del Sur, which is a massive area yet to be restored. This two-hectare mass of stonework is still covered by vines and trees. The palaces atop the masonry date back ...
Ruin
Guatemala

Plaza de los Siete Templos

135190Next to the Acrópolis del Sur is the complex comprised of seven little temples built in a row. Although the temples were assembled during the late Classic period, there are other structures in the ...
Ruin
Guatemala

El Mundo Perdido (The Lost World)

135191This sizable complex consists of 38 structures oriented in a traditional Mayan pattern serving as an astronomy observatory. The ancient Mayans observed solstices, equinoxes and planetary cycles with ...
Ruin
Guatemala

Templo IV & Complejo N

135192The largest pyramid at Tikal, Templo IV is the second tallest surviving Mayan structure, reaching a height of 65m. The only taller Mayan pyramid is located at the ruins of El Mirador. Famed for the ...
Ruin
Guatemala

Northern Complexes

135194These complexes are found one kilometer away from the Gran Plaza via the isolated Maudslay Causeway; all of them are late-Classic twin pyramid complexes that are erected to honor the end of a katun. ...
Ruin
Guatemala

Museum Tikal / Museum Cerámico

135196Situated right behind the park ticket stand, the entrance of Museum Cerámico is flanked by beautiful orchids and thick plants. It has more exhibits of valuable items discovered in the temple’s ...
Museum
Guatemala

The Ruins

135232Uaxactun\'s importance as a ceremonial and astronomical site is reflected in its ruins. The most impressive set of ruins is called Group E and is a 15 minute walk south of the airstrip. The ...
Ruin
Uaxactun, Guatemala

Naj Tunich Caves

135587The caves of Naj Tunich, thirty five kilometers east of Poptun, are unique for their Mayan murals showing religious ceremonies, ball games and erotic scenes, which are not found anywhere else in the ...
Other Activity
Poptun, Guatemala

Biotopo Cerro Cahui

135618Two kilometers west of El Remate and along the shore of Lake Peten Itza, Biotopo Cerro Cahui is a rainforest reserve spanning over six hundred hectares. It is one of the most accessible wildlife ...
Trekking
El Remate, Guatemala

Ixlu

135619The turnoff for the road heading to Belize is known as “El Cruce.” Just 200km off the road are the ruins of Ixlu on the shores of Laguna Salpeten. There are small mounds, trails and a few stones ...
Ruin
El Remate, Guatemala
Mapa
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