El Péten is the most northern province (departemento) of Guatemala bordering on the west and north with Mexico and on the east with Belize. Petén is characterized by its sparsely populated jungle landscape. Peten offers a lot of diversity in wildlife. Some of the animals that inhabit the area are macaws, parrots, toucans, tapirs, wild boar, jaguar, deer, ocelots, spider monkeys, other tropical birds and 3000 different species of plants and trees.
In Peten you will find most of the ruins of ancient Mayan civilizations. The most visited archaeological site of the region is without a doubt Tikal, which was the center of the Mayan empire. During the height of the Mayan civilization about 10.000 people inhabited Tikal and another 50.000 to 100.000 the surrounding area. Most of the area is now overtaken by the jungle. The area is extremely suitable for making jungle treks. Tikal was declared UNESCO world heritage site in 1979. Besides Tikal other Mayan ruins in the area are Yaxhá, Ceibal, Aguateca, San Bartolo and El Mirador. It is in El Mirador where the biggest pyramid of the Mayan world is found (to date), but you can only get there by first undertaking a trek through the jungle of several days.
The entrance fee for the Tikal national park is 150 Quetzales per person (they do not accept dollars or credit card, so make sure you have cash on hand). You can enter the park between 6 am and 6 pm, but you can pay extra to enter the park earlier or later, for a special sunset or sunrise visit.
Flores is the capital of the department of Tikal. It only has about 5000 inhabitants and is located on a small island on the lake Peten Itza, connected to the mainland through a dam of about 500 meters. Flores is a beautiful little town (it only takes about 30 minutes to walk around it) and it is the preferred base of many who want to visit Tikal. The island has many restaurants and hotels for every type of budget. In the evening the sunset will give the lake a beautiful red purple glow. It takes about 1 hour to get from Flores to Tikal.
El Remate is a very small town on the eastern side of the Lake Peten Itza. Compared to Flores it has very few hotels and restaurants, but there a some excellent accommodations and it might be a better option for people who want to stay in a quieter area. It is also closer to Tikal, about a 30 minute drive.
- Walk around Flores island have a coffee at the lake side and watch the sunset over the lake