Ceibal Plaza


This archaeological site is 12 kilometers east from the municipal district of Sayaxché. It is located near La Pasión River, at 220 meter above sea level. 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. The streets have many buildings that have been designated with the letters A, B, C, and D.

The main plaza of Aguateca showing a large stone stela


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. Although 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.

Dos Pilas

This site is 17 kilometers southwest from the municipal district of Sayaxché. The site is 150 meters above sea level and is situated in a tropical rain forest. It 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.

Uaxactun served as a useful forward base of operations for Tikal to both launch and repel attacks. The area is also particularly rich with wildlife


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.

A maya temple hidden deep in the Guatemala rainforest – a destination increasingly popular with intrepid tourists.

Yaxha & Lake Topoxte

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.


Petén is full of caverns. To a greater or lesser degree, all have a karst origin and some conserve the remnants of pre-Hispanic occupation. The most familiar caves are Actun Can, or the Caves of the Serpent.

Protected Systems Areas

Petén’s natural resources are protected through a system that aims to preserve its biodiversity. Some of these parks are more accessible than others, but all have facilities for visitors. The most visited parks are Tikal National Park, Laguna del Tigre-Río Escondido natural reserve, Cerro Cahuí Biotope, Naachtún-Dos Lagunas, and El Zotz-San Miguel La Palotada.

El Mirador is a large pre-Columbian Mayan settlement, located in the north of the modern department of El Petén, Guatemala.

El Mirador

El Mirador is located at 7 kilometers from the Mexican border, some 105 kilometers from Tikal, and access to this site is difficult. Because of its large area and enormous structures, it is considered one of the most important cities of the Pre-classical Late Period. Civilization reached its peak at this site between the year 400 B.C. and the year 100 AD. It is currently under reconstruction.


Also known as The Lost City in the Maya World, it was discovered in 1905. Presently, it is known as one of the grandest cities. It is located on the edge of the Río La Pasión.

Río Azul

This site is located at the extreme north of the department of El Petén, close to the Mexican and Belizean borders. During the dry season, a walk within the site can take five hours. It reached its peak during the Late Pre-classical Period (250 B.C.E. to 250). Río Azul was the administrative center of a region encompassing approximately 170 square kilometers and boasting over 500 buildings, the highest of which measures 47 meters from the ground.

This reconstruction of the Acropolis of Nakum includes Structures 14 and 15, which were excavated


Located at 25 kilometers from Tikal on the road that leads to Yaxhá, it can be reached only during the dry season. It has two large building complexes that are connected by a Sacbé, or boulevard. Some of its buildings have unique vaulted chambers and interesting stele. Nakúm dates from the Late Classical Period.

Tikal & Peten, Guatemala - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Island at the jungle in a cloudy day. It is placed at the zoo of Petencito, next to Tikal and the island of Flores, Santa Elena, Petén, Guatemala

Lakes and Rivers

One of the outstanding features of the department is its great number of rivers and lakes. The San Pedro, La Pasión, Santa Isabel, Machaquilá, San Juan, Río Azul and El Subín, are long and slow, and offer unequaled views; the majority are navigable. Lakes are abundant, although mostly small. Many are aligned along the geological fault of the Arco de la Libertad, such as the Mendoza, San Diego, La Gloria, Larga, Sacpuy, Petén Itzá, Yaxhá and Sacnab lagoons. Others, like the Petexbatún and Del Tigre lagoons are outside this arch, but are part of the combined waterways that form the great biological wealth of the department.

Main Attractions in Tikal

Silvanus B. Morley Museum

This museum is located within the Tikal National Park and exhibits pieces from the burial chamber of the Lords of Tikal. Within it is a reproduction of tomb 116 found in the Temple of the Great Jaguar. It contains stone stele as well as a valuable collection of ceramics and carved stone, jade, and bone sculptures.

Ruins in the Maya City Tikal in Guatemala

The Grand Plaza

At the heart of Tikal National Archaeological Park, it is surrounded by impressive buildings such as Temples I and II, the North and Central Acropolis, as well as a large number of stele and altars that relate part of the dynastic history of the Maya civilization of Tikal.

Temple I

Also known as the Temple of the Grand Jaguar, it was constructed around the year 700. Its comb rises 45 meters above the Main Plaza. The building is constructed in the prevailing Maya style, which is in the form of a pyramid.

Temple II

Also known as the Temple of Masks. It closes the west end of the Grand Plaza and measures 38 meters in height. Governor Ah Cacao built it in the year 700.

The North Acropolis. Ruins at Tikal National Park, Guatemala.

North Acropolis

This is a religious building within the Tikal ceremonial complex. It is the most complete individual construction excavated in the Maya region to date.

Central Acropolis

This complex has small patios of varying height and long, low buildings known as palaces. The majority of the visible structures date from the Late Classical Period (550-900).

Temple of the Jaguar Priest (Temple III)

Temple III

This structure measures approximately 50 meters in height. It still has some of the original carved wood lintels; one of these describes a scene that gave it the name Temple of the Jaguar Priest, as it is also known. Built during the Late Classical Period, it measures 55 meters high.

Temple IV

The edifice measures 70 meters in height making it the highest structure in Tikal. It is also known as the Temple of the Two-headed Serpent. Governor Yaxkin Caan Chac constructed it around the year 741 AD. Visitors can climb to the base of the crest and enjoy a mesmerizing view of Tikal, its incredible fauna, and listen to a symphony of jungle animals.

Temple V

Located toward the south of the Central Acropolis, it measures 57 meters in height. At the top, Temple V offers one of the most spectacular sights of Tikal National Park. Recent excavations indicate that it was constructed between the year 550 and 650 AD.

Tikal Temple V is the name given by archaeologists to one of the major pyramids at Tikal.

Temple VI

It is also known as the Temple of the Inscriptions, its large crest measures 12 meters in height. The front, sides, and cornices are filled with glyphs. The inscriptions register the date 766.

Great Pyramid or Lost World, Guatemala

Plaza of the Great Pyramid or Lost World

One of the oldest monumental complexes within the city of Tikal, its constructive activity began in the Upper Pre classical Period. Its architecture, science, and arts developed between the 3rd century B.C.E. and the year 400. It measures about 35 meters in height and is a commemorative astrological complex.

Palace of the Windows

It is also known as the Palace of the Bats. It is formed by several structures located toward the western side of Temple III. The building for which the group is named has been partially restored and has a great number of interconnected rooms.

Tropical Discovery Tours going to this location: