Top Reasons to Go to El Petén

Tikal: Tikal is usually ranked as the most impressive of all Mayan sites. You can climb many of the structures and, looking across the jungle canopy, feel humbled by the history's gravitas.

Other Mayan Ruins: 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.

Wildlife: The ancient world amazes, but when you see a spider monkey munching allspice berries just feet away, you may think the best part of the Mayan world is what still inhabits it.

Flores and Lago Petén Itzá: The island town of Flores has a muted, old-world ambience in the middle of an oceanic lake.

Shopping for Handicrafts: The indigenous population is known for a variety of handicrafts. There's an open-air market in Santa Elena, and Flores has a number of little shops. The village of El Remate has unique wood carvings, and the border town of Melchor also has shops catering to tourists.

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