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Located twenty three kilometers (2 mi) north of Tikal, Uaxactun (pronounced wha-shahk-toon) is another important Maya ceremonial center and is believed to be the oldest astrological observatory yet discovered in the Maya world.

It is believed that Uaxactun was built at the same time of Tikal, at the end of the Pre-classic Period. Grand Jaguar, the monarch of Tikal who governed for 62 years between 317 and 379 AD, kept Uaxactun under his power. The city developed during the Median Classic Period. The Maya improved their writing and made many important discoveries in the field of astronomy. The town was abandoned in the 10th Century and was discovered in 1916 by the American archeologist Sylvanus Morley.

In the late 70s, a road was opened to get to Tikal and in 1982 the site was included in Tikal protected area. The only access is an unpaved road through the jungle, only approachable by 4 WD vehicle. Open daily 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., the entrance is free if you have your ticket from Tikal. If not, you have to pay the $2 park entrance.

Uaxactun village lies alongside an abandoned airstrip. Villagers live off the collection of chicle (natural gum used for chewing gum), pimienta (spices) and xate (leaves of palm trees) in the surrounding forest. There are only two hotels where visitors can spend the night. On the north side of the airstrip, Campamento El Chiclero ($3-17) has ten small, basic rooms, with mosquito-netted ceilings and windows. You also can camp or string a hammock for $3. The lodge also has the best restaurant in town with large portions of good, affordable food ($6 for a soup and main course), and a small museum with local artifacts. The friendly owner can arrange trips to more remote sites such as El Zotz, Rio Azul, Nakbe, la Muralla and El Mirador. (502)7926-1095

Aldana’s lodge ($2.50-4), just off the street leading to groups A and B of the ruins, is the cheapest option. You can camp or sleep in a simple thatched-roof cabana. The owner can arrange trips to more remote sites such as El Zotz, Rio Azul, Nakbe, la Muralla and El Mirador. There are three comedores in town: Comedor Uaxactun, Comedor la Bendicion and Comedor Imperial. They all serve cheap, local meals.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Uaxactun: Uaxactun Overview,

By Claire Bourgin
I have traveled around the world since I'm a kid. Traveling is now part of my everyday life in Guatemala. I have been living in Quetzaltenango for 3...
30 Apr 2010

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