Ixpanpajul is a
Natural Park that offers canopy tours, suspension bridges and
horseback riding among other activities. It takes about 45
minutes to reach it from Ni’tun and around three to four hours
to visit the park.
San José and El Remate:
Enjoy a panoramic trip visiting the towns of San Andrés and San
José, specially the San José church where the magical and
venerated skulls rest. The tour continues to breathtaking El
Remate (at the Eastern extreme of the Lake) along the shoreline
of beautiful Lake Petén Itzá. Local woodcraft community shops
are visited along the way.
Located in El Remate at about 45 minutes from Ni'tun. Cerro
Cahuí is a biotope or reserve managed by the University of San
Carlos of Guatemala.
The BioItzá reserve is one of the few reserves in Guatemala
entirely managed by a community. The community of the Itzá
people in San José is protecting this area, one of the biggest
in Petén. This trip includes a visit to their medicinal plant
El Zotz (Bat):
Few people visit El Zotz. The University of San Carlos of
Guatemala is in charge of the management of this natural park
and IDAEH (The Institute of Anthropology and History) keeps
control over El Zotz archaeological site. El Diablo is one of
the main structures in the outskirts of El Zotz and from its top,
when the skies are clear, one can see the Temples of Tikal. The
high cliff in this park is the home for thousands of bats that
come out to feed around sunset like a huge dark flow. The sounds,
the view and the sensation of all of these bats together are
Tikal (City of
Let's visit Tikal through the paths, avoiding crowds. Bird
watching is a must, and sunsets can be enjoyed from Temple IV or
Mundo Perdido. Get acquainted with the actual restoration works.
Located at 23 kms from Tikal, this is one of the main Maya
observatories in the area. One of the most important chiclero (gum
collectors) community lives here. The site provides beauty in
construction, mystic palaces and insight into the Maya equinox
and solstice predictions. Take a look at one very interesting
private Maya art collections in the area.
in the Stone):
Located about 40 kms
from Uaxactún, Xultún is a rarely visited Classic Period Mayan
City beautiful in its architecture as well as in the nature that
surrounds it. It's also quite an adventure to get there.
Water) and Topoxté (Ramón Tree):
Yaxhá is an archaeological site from the Classic Period on the
shores of the beautiful Yaxhá lagoon, home of Moreletti
crocodiles... Topoxté is one of the oldest Cities in Mundo Maya.
At the moment, reconstruction works are performed which makes
the visit even more interesting. Trekking in Yaxhá is one of
the most beautiful activities of this trip. Watching the sunset
with the sun falling behind the lagoon and its islands is really
breathtaking. Howler and spider monkeys and birds like the bat-eating
hawk, toucans and parrots may be observed from Temple 216, the
highest in Yaxhá.
inside the Houses):
Restoration works are done at the present in Nakum, located
inside the Yaxhá-Nakum-Naranjo triangle and national park. Some
interesting building techniques like the Gothic arch can be
observed at Nakum.
Naranjo (Melchor) is hardly ever visited by anyone; it’s
mystical, beautiful and green. One can see virgin savannas, very
particular construction details and patterns not seen anywhere
else in Mundo Maya. The big canyon over the water spring born
there is an amazing natural landscape. Cold, clean, crystalline
waters are born there, where birds and other animals come to
drink everyday. Beautiful pictures can be taken at dawn when
mist lifts up from the mountains.
Cancuén: (Place of
The Cancuén project
is sponsored by Guatemala’s Institute of Anthropology and
History, the National Geographic Society and Vanderbilt
University. For many years it was thought to be a minor city.
While investigating other sites in the region, archaeologists
discovered that Cancuén was also part of the Petexbatún city-state.
Its history is intricate and interesting. The trip takes us to
a remote area in Petén bordering the highlands. A 270,000
square foot palace is one of Cancuén’s highlights with its
labyrinth and hundreds of rooms.
Dos Lagunas (Two
It is amazing and beautiful to see nature at its wildest with
the majestic big white masked hawks flying all over. You may
watch the deer run or hear the jaguar roar; maybe even see the
toucans struggle for water escaping from big Moreletti
crocodiles. All these, plus turtles, water snakes and different
kinds of mammals make Dos Lagunas very special. Dos Lagunas is
the only source of water for all of these and many other animals
in kilometers around. Sunsets and sunrises in this wild
adventure are beyond comparison.
Río Azul (Blue
It is an incredible adventure to travel from Uaxactún to Ixcán
Río (another name for Rio Azul), never knowing what’s going to
happen along the way! Sometimes tiring, it is always beautiful
to watch huge trees that make the entire path dark beneath the
jungle. It is important to clear up that Río Azul is not blue at
all. It not only has a greenish dark brown color because of the
leaves that fall in it, but also because of it's really a stream.
In Mexico, the same river is called "Aguas Turbias" or Muddy
Waters, which really speaks the truth. A subtropical dry jungle
is specific of this particular zone in Petén. You hardly bump
into anyone when going there, except for the xateros (people
that harvest xate palm leaves). It is definitely a birdwatcher
and nature lover paradise. The art of the drawings and paintings
in red, blue, black and yellow colors over white in the tombs of
Río Azul and the carved columns that speak its story are worth
any effort to get there.
Pedernal from the Classic Period is a very important Mayan city
for it is believed to have been a big silex workshop. So big
that even when you walk, you can sometimes hear the sound as if
there was glass and metal under your feet!
Kinal (Hot and
This city was basically ceremonial, the structures are very much
like palaces and some have more than 100 rooms! Wild boars seem
to find Kinal very appealing, for they chose one of its
structures to call it home and for generations they have been
(Place of Green Stones), Bonampak (Paintings on the Walls),
Lacanjá and Palenque...
This exciting combination offers an expedition filled with
history. Camping on the Usumacinta river shores, you may walk
through the city of Yaxchilán, almost reliving its tales. You
may see Lady Xoc in a bloodletting and hallucinating experience
in one of the beautiful lintels, or maybe you can grasp a bit of
the importance of the family line among the Mayans watching the
actual passing of the throne from Shield Jaguar to his son Bird
Jaguar. Maybe you can experience all this with the company of
scarlet macaws flying over you. The frescoes of Bonampak on the
other hand tell you the rest of the story, speaking about
conquests of cities and war rituals. On the way to Palenque,
what would you think about stopping at Lacanjá River for a
refreshing bath in its clear waters while you meet the last
Lacandones? And for last, you may walk many feet below ground
level to watch an extraordinary resting place... Pacal's tomb!
Lacandón National Park:
Sierra Lacandón National Park is a fairly new project in terms
of ecotourism with an area of 202,865 hectares and a perimeter
of 290 kilometers. Water sink holes, caves, lagoons and ponds,
the Usumacinta River and Piedras Negras archaeological site are
part of this park. This is an incredible trip by car and by boat
(even traveling through some water rapids) watching birds,
crocodiles, turtles, iguanas, monkeys and all kinds of animals.
The camping site seems from another world. The setting couldn't
be more beautiful with the forest and the sand and the huge
rocks, some of which still have the petroglyphs that the Mayan
carved. The sound of the river water in front of the tent, the
morning coffee watching birds fishing… words cannot match the
real thing! Sierra Lacandón is located at the Northwest of Petén
in Guatemala, next to Chiapas and Tabasco.
and Nakbé (Houses on the Path):
Mirador is an extremely enduring expedition. It is good to clear
up that all the big structures in Mirador are completely covered
up by jungle. There’s only one visible stela and the chicleros
call it "the mute stela" for all its information has been lost
due to the extreme weather conditions. The 360° view from Danta
Complex, 23 meters higher than Temple IV in Tikal, measuring
around 90 meters high, has no match in Mundo Maya. You not only
see the canopy but also the huge Tigre and Mono Complexes. The
pimienta (allspice) forests and chicozapote or chicle (gum)
trees on the way to Mirador are spectacular. On the Sacbé (white
road) to Nakbé there's a better chance to observe animals. It is
important to note that all of these paths are very much traveled
by chicleros so most animals avoid them. Also on the way to
Nakbé, there's a long "bajo" (lowland) where one can see
beautiful and strange flowers of different types, but mostly
orchids and bromeliads. The real magic of this trip lays in
listening to the philosophy of life and the day to day stories
of our jungle guides who have lived all their lives in the
jungle, collecting chicle and xate leaves. They dedicate their
efforts to the conservation of these forests through this
activities and now also through low impact ecotourism.
located up the Río La Pasión in Sayaxché. Its archaeological
highlights include several temples and carved stelae, with very
interesting art. To get to Ceibal by car, we have to cross the
river by ferry. One can also visit this amazing Maya city by
boat. The mix of Maya art and tropical jungle makes it a very
special place, though during the rainy season the mosquito
population highly increases.
Dos Pilas: (named
after the two water springs in the site)
The forest surrounding all of Dos Pilas used to be untouched.
Regretfully most of its hardwood trees were illegally extracted.,
though still the place is amazingly beautiful. The two water
springs are filled with colorful fish. Monkeys and howler
monkeys are always present as one walks through the giant carved
is a cave that might be visited, which is interesting and
beautiful. There is some recent investigation and new
information about Dos Pilas, mostly about its hieroglyphic
Dos Pilas history has to do with a powerful alliance with Tikal,
and a later occupation by Calakmul.
Located in an
edge of the Petexbatún horst. There is an incredible chasm that
runs through the site measuring 50 to 60 meters deep and 5 to 15
meters wide in most places. Its earliest occupation has been
dated from the Late Preclassic. Its architecture is very
similar to that of Ceibal. A boat ride of approximately one
hour is necessary to get to Aguateca. The site is partially
site rarely visited, located near the Guatemala-Belize border (about
1:30 hours away from Ni'tun). Most of the site is totally
covered by jungle. The forest is beautiful. There are some
interesting stelae, though few. To get to Ucanal, one has to
cross a creek in a canoe, which makes you feel kind of a first
explorer or adventurer in the area. Not much information is
available about Ucanal, since very little investigation has been
done in this site.
of an incredible site, a very well displayed and beautiful
museum and a charming town makes Copán one top destination in
Honduras. It takes us about 4 hours to get there from Petén.
Copán has lots of hieroglyphic texts and its inscriptions are
really stunning. There are many things to do in Copán aside
from the site. After strolling through the temples and
observing the epigraphy one can enjoy a very nice meal, buy some
Honduran tobacco or visit some other interesting places in Copán
destinations in Guatemala, Honduras, Chiapas and Belize also
available upon request.