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El Petén Travel Guide

  • Photo: sfeichtner / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Mark Yarchoan / Shutterstock

Plan Your El Petén Vacation

The jungles of El Petén were once the heartland of the Mayan civilization. The sprawling empire—including parts of present-day Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador—was once made up of a network of cities that held hundreds of thousands of people, but a millennium ago this fascinating civilization went into a mysterious decline and soon virtually disappeared. The temples that

dominated the horizon were swallowed up by the jungle.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Tikal is usually ranked as the most impressive of all Mayan sites. You'll never forget the jungle setting, rich with wildlife and birds.
  2. Tikal is the best known, but hardly the only important Mayan site in El Petén. El Mirador was a giant city-state, perhaps larger than Tikal, and in the Mirador Basin are the remains of at least four other centers, including Nakbé, El Tintal, Xulnal, and Wakná.
  3. The island town of Flores has a charming European feel, with red-roof houses and cobblestone streets.
  4. The indigenous population creates countless kinds of handicrafts. There's an open-air market in Santa Elena, and Flores has a number of little shops. The village of El Remate is known for its unique wood carvings, and the border town of Melchor also has shops catering to tourists.

When To Go

When to Go

It's very warm here year-round. The rainy season is May to November. Occasional showers are a possibility the rest of the year, but shouldn't interf...

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