Petén at a Glance
Guatemala’s northern and largest region is covered in swathes of tropical jungle where ancient Mayan temples and lurk beneath the canopy. Take the time to venture into the depths of the rainforest to discover Guatemala’s fascinating Mayan past, awe-inspiring natural wonders and exotic wildlife which call this region home.
History and Culture
The dense tropical rainforest and difficult terrain which characterises this region meant it at first resisted exploitation by the Spanish conquest. However, this didn’t stop the Mayan cultures from settling here over a thousand years ago; many ancient Mesoamerican archaeological sites can be found throughout the region and are indicative of a population which flourished in these conditions. These ancient settlements are believed to have been abandoned around the 10th century but were later recolonised only to be eventually overcome by the Spanish in 1697.
Where to stay in Petén
Petén’s capital, Flores, is located in the centre of the region and makes an excellent base from which to explore the nearby Mayan ruins in the Biosphere Reserve. The town itself is an island on the tranquil Lago Petén Itza, linked by a small causeway to the mainland. It’s an attraction in itself, characterised by its iconic red corrugated rooftops, colonial architecture and cobbled streets. Below are some of our top recommendations in Flores, depending on your budget:
When is the best time to visit Peten
Guatemala’s proximity to the equator means pleasant temperatures year round. Throughout the year temperatures will vary between 68F/20C and 86F/30C, with the hottest months being April – June.
In terms of tourism, high season falls in January and February and the lowest month in October – expect prices to be cheaper at this time of year.
Petn Tours: What to Do?
Petén is an ideal stop for travellers seeking some of the best Mayan ruins in Central America.
Don’t miss a trip to Tikal – the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas and one of the largest Mayan citadels from the era. The site dates back to the 1st century and offers incredible views over this jungle kingdom. Take a private tour from Flores
with an expert local guide to learn all about the history of this fascinating city and the culture which inhabited it.
Hiking and wildlife
Venture off-the-beaten-track by hiking through the jungle to El Zotz
and other lesser visited archaeological sites, where you can also see incredible caves and nearby cliffs which are home to thousands of bat falcons.
NOTE: We strongly recommend that any hiking you do be with a guide – jungle trails are not always well-marked and it is easy to get lost.
Jorge’s Rope Swing
While in Flores, don’t miss a visit across the lake to Jorge’s Rope Swing
for some Instagram-worthy shots. The site also has diving boards and is the perfect place to relax.
Ixpanpajul Natural Park
Located just south of Flores
and about a 15-minute drive, this wonderful natural reserve offers hike, zip-lining and horse-riding for adventure seeking travellers.
Boating and Canoeing
Make the most of the tranquil Lago Petén Itza by renting a canoe or boat from Flores and spend a day exploring the waters and other waterfront towns such as San Jose.
The Keteka difference
Keteka grants access to authentic activities run by local tour operators and guides. You can book and secure your place in advance, and we will take care of everything else. We’ll let you know where to go or where you will be picked up and at what time.
How to get to Petén
There are multiple bus companies running from Guatemala City to Flores which takes 10 hours and costs between $25 to $62 USD.
From Guatemala City, daily flights to Flores are operated by Avianca
and TAG Airlines
. The flight takes 1 hour and prices were around $220 USD return when booking three months in advance.