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Travel Guide to Tikal & Peten, Guatemala

Tikal & Peten, Guatemala - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Map of the Area

  • 35,854 km2 (13,843 sq mi)
  • varies between 12 and 40 °C (54 and 104 °F)
  • UTC (GMT) -6 hrs
  • Guatemalan Quetzal at Q7.16 Quetzal = $1 USD.
  • Spanish
  • Peten Department (2002) 366,735
  • 16°54′N 89°54′W

General Information About Tikal and Peten Region

Mystical archeology & breathtaking natural beauty

This natural treasure of incalculable value is in the northernmost part of the country. Its extensive territory is considered one of the planet's life-lungs due to its exuberant vegetation.

The department has several protected areas such as the Maya Biosphere Reserve, whose area includes over 50,000 square kilometers of subtropical rain forest. In addition, here you will experience some of the greatest archeological wonders in the world.

The famous Tikal Ruins, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its neighboring ruins such as Yaxha, Uaxactum, Ceibal, El Mirador and dozens of others, are monumental Classical Mayan archeological cities. Their towering pyramids stretch towards the heavens beyond the highest jungle canopy, providing a mystical view of the areas rich flora and teeming fauna, and a feel for the mysteries of this ancient culture.

Tikal & Peten, Guatemala - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Main attractions in Peten Region

The Peten region holds some of the greatest archeological wonders in the world. The famous Tikal Ruins, declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its neighboring ruins such as Yaxha, Uaxactum, Ceibal, El Mirador and dozens of others, are monumental Classical Mayan archeological cities. For information on the main attractions in the region, please click the following links.

 

Main attractions in Tikal

Tikal is located 64 kilometers from Flores, the lovely capital of Petén perched up on island on Lake Petén Itza. This is your arrival point into the Peten region. Tikal, meaning 'place of the voices,' is one of the largest and most magnificent Mayan cities in existence. Its temples stretch towards the heavens beyond the highest jungle canopy, provide a mystical view of the areas rich fauna and flora, and a feel for the mysteries of this ancient culture. It was inhabited from 800 BC to 900 AD, only to be re-conquered by the tropical forest from the beginning of the eleventh century, to beginning of the twentieth century, when it became once again discovered, and at which time restoration began. The site occupies 575 square kilometers and was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1979. For information on the main attractions in Tikal, please click the following links.

Tikal & Peten, Guatemala - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

HISTORY

The Peten Region

Petén is the largest department of Guatemala and the least populated. The area is predominantly covered in jungle, where an exuberant amount of tropical vegetation is found. It is practically a walking medicine cabinet whose vegetation has been curing diseases for thousands of years, and still does, as many of its plants are used today in birth control pills, diarrhea, and anti malaria medicines for example. The area is also paradise for animal lovers and bird watchers. The jungles are teeming with approximately 300 species of birds, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, toucans, foxes, deer, pumas, wild turkeys, jaguars, and who could of course forget the reptiles.

Majestic Tikal

The Maya chose the sub-tropical jungles of El Peten to be their homeland. This region is the birthplace of the Maya and witnessed the rise and fall of entire civilizations in cities such as El Mirador, Tikal and Aguateca. Thousands of years later, these cities still protect many of the mysteries of the Maya civilization…

Yik'in Chan K'awiil Ruler of the Mayan City-State of Tikal

The Maya

The “men of corn” settled in this majestic land over 1300 years ago. It is here that they came to raise their spirits to the stars, bathe in their light, understand their desires and influences. Here they settled to sculpt their stelae, documenting their history, and it is here they build their temples in honor of their Gods. In Guatemala, amongst the aroma of the orchids and bogambilias, in the midst of volcanoes, rivers, lakes, oceans, caves, cenotes, that they build more than tree thousand of such sites, practiced their rituals, bathed in vapor, and created a mass civilization.

Central America Ruins Tour (Guatemala & Honduras) - Tropical Discovery

The Peten jungles are teeming with approximately 300 species of birds, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, toucans, foxes, deer, pumas, wild turkeys, jaguars, and who could of course forget the reptiles. But what is even more striking, is the vast number of Mayan ruins that can be found in this department of Guatemala - the largest, but the least populated one. Not without a reason is Guatemala know as the “heart of the Maya world”. Let our expert guides take you on a private tour to discover some of the secrets that can be found in these jungles.

Aside from Tikal national Park, Petén has many other archaeological sites that can be visited using Flores, the department’s capital, as a starting point. Petén is also the largest protected tropical forest area in Central America, whose areas amazing fauna and flora, lakes, rivers, lagoons, caves, cenotes, etc., make it a perfect place to engage in all sorts of adventurous activities.

All tours start in Flores, Santa Elena or at Flores airport, but pick-up/drop-off at your hotel in the region is possible for a small extra charge, please inquire for details.

Archeology and Culture

  • One of our expert guides will take you for a tour of the majestic archeological ruins of Tikal, one of the largest and most magnificent Mayan cities in existence. Your guide will share many insights on this Mayan city and provide a feel for the mysteries of this ancient culture. Enjoy your lunch in the park, and return in the afternoon to Flores.
  • Ceibal was the largest settlement during the Late Classical Period and had great power over the west margin of the river due to its favorable location, as well as control over commercial activities, transportation, and political and military activities. The site occupies the highest point and is situated on a calcareous outcrop of over 100 meters above sea level. It has a ceremonial center that covers an area of approximately 1 square kilometer distributed over three high hills separated by deep ravines that drain toward the river. Let one of our expert guides take you there to learn more about the fantastic Mayas and enjoy lunch in the midst of the rainforest.
  • This site is recommended for specialists, as it lacks impressive buildings. On the other hand, investigators of the Maya culture might find the glyphs on the stele very interesting and your expert guide will be happy to tell you more about them. The journey to reach the site is a fabulous one, as it can only be accessed by boat when the waters of Lake Petexbatún are deep enough.
  • This site was declared a National and Cultural Heritage Site in 1985. Hunting, archaeological searches, mineral explorations, and woodcutting activities are prohibited in this area. It can be reached by land or by water. The architectural structures at this site have not been unearthed; the approximately 42 mounds are oriented on an east-west axis and are surely incredible temples waiting to be unveiled. Let your expert guide take you to this site and experience what Tikal's discoverers must have felt like more than a hundred years ago.
  • Located at 42 kilometers from Tikal, one of its most important buildings is an astronomical observatory. It is thought that the Maya perfected their writing system at this site. The Tikal National Park was enlarged in 1982 to include and protect these archaeological findings as well.
  • Both cities were built on islands in the Yaxhá lagoon and connected to land by boulevards and canals. Yaxhá is about 30 kilometers distant from Tikal and has plazas and an acropolis that connect by boulevards known as Sacbés. The hieroglyphic inscriptions indicate that it was inhabited between the Early Classical Period and the Late Classical Period, making it a Post-classical Period city. Topoxte's buildings resemble those of Tulum, in Yucatán, Mexico. Discover the site and the lagoon with its abundant wildlife.

Nature and Adventure

  • Visit the Actun Kan Caves and explore Lake Peten Itza by boat heading to the zoo on Petencito Island - run by the University San Carlos - to see the local wildlife up close. Finish your tour with some great views from the Mirador del Rey Canek on the Tavasal Peninsula. You will also observe life along the lake banks and fishers who combe the lake with their boats. Duration approximately 5-6 hours.
  • El Mirador is a large pre-Columbian Mayan settlement, located in the north of the modern department of El Petén, Guatemala. El Mirador was first discovered in 1926. Treks begin in the village of Carmelita, inside the biosphere reserve at the end of the line for the road from Flores. Carmelita is a small cluster of houses grouped alongside the road with a few basic services such as a comedor, a small general store, and simple accommodations. Come and explore the forgotten city!!

* Please inquire for recent details and pricing

* Please note: Information on this page is believed to be correct but not guaranteed

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Bahía Taitza Hotel Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Located in the rainforest region of Petén in Guatemala, and on the shores of lake Petén Iztá in San José, Hotel Bahía Taitzá is an ideal place to appreciate the beauty of a natural environment.

avg/night$95.00 SELECT

Bolontiku Boutique Hotel Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Bolontiku Boutique Hotel is inspired in the mayan legacy and it´s green roof tops are beyond compare.

avg/night$285.00 SELECT

Chimino’s Island Lodge Hotel Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Enjoy the most pristine jungle, as natural as it gets! Your senses flow by the overwhelming nature all around.

avg/night$110.00 SELECT

Hotel Camino Real Tikal Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Camino Real Tikal is a tropical five star retreat, set in the heart of the Petén jungle with all the comfort and facilities to assure an unforgettable experience

avg/night$150.00 SELECT

Hotel del Patio Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Located on Santa Elena Petén, the Del Patio provides guests with a colonial atmosphere which blends itself perfectly with the convenience and comfort of the XXI century.

avg/night$60.00 SELECT

Hotel Jungle Lodge Tikal & Peten Guatemala

The Jungle Lodge Hotel was established in 1956 by Mr. Antonio Ortiz Contreras, who discovered the Temple of the Inscriptions in 1951.

avg/night$135.00 SELECT

Hotel Ni’tun Eco-Lodge Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Ni'tun Lodge is the true definition of what a deluxe jungle eco-lodge should be. It is located in the most pristine area of enchanting Lake Peten Itza, right in the heart of the Peten jungle, and one hour from Tikal National Park.

avg/night$180.00 SELECT

Hotel Petén Espléndido Tikal & Peten Guatemala

The Hotel Peten Esplendido is conveniently located on the lakeside in front of the island of Flores.

avg/night$125.00 SELECT

Hotel Villa Maya Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Villa Maya is an open invitation to adventure! Just 15 minutes away from Santa Elena Airport and 45 minutes from Tikal National Park

avg/night$95.00 SELECT

La Lancha Resort Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Located in Guatemala’'s Peten Region near the wonderful archaeological site of Tikal, "La Lancha" is a deluxe jungle resort overlooking the beautiful and unspoiled Lake Peten Itza.

avg/night$149.00 SELECT

Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel Tikal & Peten Guatemala

Located in the Heart of the Maya World, minutes away from the magnificent Tikal, Uaxactún and Yaxhá ruins.

avg/night$300.00 SELECT

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