The Peten, located in the north of the country, is an area of exuberant tropical jungles teeming with wildlife, deep forests, dry plains dotted with lakes, and Maya cities. For years, the Peten was cut off from the rest of the country due to the lack of roads and infrastructure. Even today travel by road is discouraged, above all, in the rainy season. The main city in Peten is Flores sitting on a picturesque island in the southern part of Lake Peten Itza and linked directly with Santa Elena. There is an airport with daily flights to Guatemala City and Belize City. Tikal is the main Mayan site in the area, located 45 minutes from the airport. It is the largest and most spectacular Mayan site yet uncovered with over 3,000 separate temples, shrines, ceremonial platforms, ball courts and plazas. The largest temples here tower above the jungle canopy and spectacular views can be gained from climbing their height – especially at sunset or sunrise. Situated deep within the protected rainforest, Tikal also provides visitors with an amazing opportunity to see howler monkeys, toucans, pizotes and other rainforest wildlife. Construction of Tikal began around BC 300, although its most important époque was between AD 200 - 900 in what is called the Classic Period of the Mayan civilization when it was considered an important commercial city. The temples at Tikal were built to reach the sky with the Temple of the Serpent reaching 70 meters high and offering a magnificent view of the rainforest canopy and other temples. Due to the immense historical value of the site at Tikal, it has been declared a UNESCO protected monument. The site covers 16 square kilometers and contains over 3,000 structures.
Other archaeological sites in the area include Yaxha, Topoxte, Uaxactun, and Ceibal.
Activities in Peten include:
Day trips to the different Maya sites
Hikes in the rainforest
Boat trips in the lake
Hot and humid with rains year round. Temperatures can soar into the 90s during the summer time. The rainy season extends from May to September.