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Updated 03/19/14

Petén Information.


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General Petén Information



Petén is the northern most Department in Guatemala. In its forests are a number of ruin  sites that were major centers of the Pre-classic and Classic Maya civilization. 

Flores, the capital of Petén, is built on an island on Lake Petén Itzá, and is connected by a long causeway to the nearby town of Santa Elena on the lakeshore. 

The pre-Hispanic city was was known as Noh Petén or Big Island. Sometimes it was also called Tah Itzá, or the Place of the Itzá. At the time of its conquest in 1697, it  had been the last still functioning independent Maya city anywhere, having been founded by the Itzá people after they left Chichén Itzá and later Mayapán in Mexico during the late Post-Classic Period .

There was some belief among some of the Itzá that an 8 Ahau period ending date was prophetic for turning over the area to the Spanish. The latter tried to use the prophecy to convince Itzá to do so, but most of the indigenous locals were not taken in. However, the Spanish were never put out by a lack of invitation, they came, built large canoes, massacred many and took the city. 

The Spanish destroyed the pyramids, temples and religious icons of Noh Petén. They  pronounced Tah Itzá as Tayasal and replaced the rubble with the Spanish city of Flores. The dispersal of the survivors into the jungle may have even  given rise to the myth of a surviving and lost Maya city.  There are still Itzá villages in the area at San Andrés. San José and San Miguel.

Although a boatman may offer a visit to a Tayasal on the other side of the lake, you can instead take the cheap regular boat from the northern end of the island over to San Miguel. Although most of Noh Petén or Tah Itzá lies beneath the city of Flores, and it doesn't require any boat trip.  However, you can see remains that are presumably part  of that city above the village of San Miguel and there are regular boats from the northern part of the island   Finally there is also archaeological work going on there seasonally. 





Online Services 


Airlines to and From Flores         



Grupo TACA to and from USA, Belize, Cancún and Guate. Get an idea of TACA Flight Schedules between Guate,

Flores and Cancun.



TAG flies between Guate and Flores and from Guate to Copan.

Maya Airways to Belize City.

Tropic Air to and from Belize only.

You may very well do better to book via an agent

when you are in Guatemala.

Check out the weather in  Flores


Local Rental Cars in the Flores (FRS) Airport


 Koka Rent Autos 

Phone: 7926 1233, 7926 0526

    Rent Autos Garrido Phone: 7926 0079

Auto Rental San Juan  7926 0041


Note that the airport is only a couple of miles from Flores. If not bringing a lot of baggage, just do a very short walk out to the highway and turn right to hop a 5-10 Q tuk tuk or to make a relatively short walk. 



Petén Tour Operators



INGUAT Tour Guide List

INGUAT Travel Agency list



Cafe Yaxhá, in its form as The Mayan Adventure,  has affordable trips to a number of places, most notably day trips to Yaxhá and another ruin, La Blanca, and some two or three day trips by 4 wheel drive vehicle that include those sites and Nakum. You can choose to camp or for more money, to stay at a nice hotel at Yaxhá.  If you have a group, you can also come up with affordable trips to some of the more obscure Maya sites in 4 WD double cab trucks. My experience with Dieter Richter there has been very positive.  He also now has knowledgeable guides for Tikal via, which are a rarity, especially if you show up and hope for the best.


You could arrange a trip to El Mirador and/or Nakbé directly with someone in Carmelita, but you need to speak Spanish. The cooperative seems to be charging large sums and has mostly monopolized the situation.


Fanny's Tours has offices in Santa Elena, Guate and Chiquimula.


Iwana Tours is based in Flores and offers tours of Tikal, Dos Pilas and Aguateca, Yaxhá, and Cancuén.


La Casa de Don David in El Remate does a number of tours.


Las Guacamayas Biological Station merely runs tours of El Peru/Waká and the station itself. If you have been put off by the idea of three day tours there, which have a lot of down time, this could be the place for you. Click here for prices.


Martsam Travel lists a lot of tours.


Nitun near San Andrés sounds impressive if you can afford to pay a bit more.


Receptores Turisticos Peteneros S.A. is not online, but can get you to Tikal (Q60), Uaxactun, Yaxha, Ceibal, Belize and Antigua. Phone: 51752263 - 40722826 - 51751894 

Reino K'an Mirador Travel Agency does a number of tours, including El Mirador, and a reliable source tells me that the fellows there are honest.  Address: Calle 30 de Junio, Flores (across from Hotel Petén and 5B ATM)
T.: (+502) 5818 3273 and (+502) 5761 9883.


San Juan Travel.  If they had a website, I would not list it. I have read too many bad things about them over time to recommend anything but avoiding them, especially for the Flores-Palenque trip.  For getting to Tikal, unless you take  one of the buses from the Santa Elena bus station, you are stuck with them.


Tikal Canopy Tours. The price includes shuttle to Tikal, but charged extra from island of Flores when I looked.


Tikal Connection, formerly Ecomaya,  runs some relatively low-priced tours to El Zotz and El Peru, but you can often do better elsewhere.  My experiences in dealing with them suggests that they are somewhat more likely to respond to an email in Spanish, but don't count on it. E-mail them and follow up if you care enough. will arrange various trips from Tikal, with returns to either Tikal or Flores. Just keep in mind that you can visit Uaxactún overnight via bus much cheaper than what is listed there. also does affordable helicopter day trips to El Mirador if they have enough people for each option.


In Sayaxché, Viajes Don Pedro is visible on the river.  7928 6109. I used this family owned agency some years back to get to Dos Pilas and Aguateca.


South Beach Travel Agency, Playa Sur, Flores 502 42941197. It is near the causeway. Rafael Alvarado will arrange a trip that will involve a cab ride to a colectivo from the bus station to Carmelita and back, plus the usual guide with food, water and pack mules for the hike. The source for this reported being charged $200 each for two people, but it is likely more now. A reliable source in Flores reports this fellow as being conscientious.




See Flores Phone Numbers for other agencies and sources.  



Miscellaneous Items

Petén places from space.

Looking to learn more Spanish in a pleasant place, such as Flores? Consider  Academia de Español "Dos Mundos"

Listen to Guatemalan Música from Poptún

Scarlet Macaw Biological Station

A Satellite Photo of the Flores Area


Information about Tikal Park

Goodtime Bob's many photos of Tikal

How to travel between Flores and Palenque

Continued environmental 

problems of the El Mirador/Río Azul park area.

The Story of Carmelita and El Mirador.

Allianza Verde. (in Spanish) The Green Alliance is a group of local businesses that believes that the only hope for saving even a part of the Petén jungles is through responsible tourism that involve the local populations. 

Learn about efforts to save the Mirador Basin.

A review of Petén Conservation efforts and problems

Read about Propetén

      Satellite Photos 

A Petén Journey.  Mike

 Reed made it to Dos Pilas, El Ceibal and Uaxactún.

Tikal Ruins, a good description of 

a traveler's view of Tikal.

A Trip to El Mirador. It's not all that hard.

A Recent Article about the Pre-classic Collapse.  

Plundering the Petén

an article by archaeologist Richard Hansen.


Thoughts on Food Safety


Volunteer Opportunities


Volunteer Petén in San Andrés also

 has a language school.

Volunteer to work at repatriating

wildlife with ARCAS.

 The Scarlet Macaw Biological Station is located on the San Pedro River, which has nice bass and tilapia in it.   

BYO fishing equipment for a spare time activity.


The Santo Domingo Orphanage in Santa Elena




Peten Journey 2006

A tourist in the

 Mirador Basin








La Muerta, near El Mirador












































Click for Flores, Guatemala Forecast


Buses and shuttles


To Tikal

The public bus.  In the far left and back of the Santa Elena station, Asociación de Transportes used to list public buses between Santa Elena and Tikal, leaving the bus  station at 6:00 AM, 6:30, 7:00, 8:30, 10:00, 11:30,  and 12:30 PM for 30Q.  There were also runs at 1300 and 1500 to Tikal ending in Uaxactún. These have been moved to the Old Mercado to avoid cutting into the transport monopoly enjoyed by the San Juan Agency. It is the same location that colectivos go.

 If you come in on an overnight bus, you will be in the same station where this option used to be. If your bus is first class or better, there will be at least one offer of a van ride to Tikal, which will be a San Juan van. There will be cabs as well. There is a bus stop at Tikal if you walk well past the comedors toward Santa Elena.

 I am told that there is now an alternative to the San Juan monopoly shuttles to Tikal at Receptores Turisticos Peteneros

Calle 15 de Septiembre Phone 5175 2263

They also go to Uaxactun and Yaxha. 


Getting to Palenque, Mexico




Van Rental

If you have a group and want reasonable prices for getting to places in Petén, toward Palenque or to Belize, take a look at  Mayan


 Linea Dorada runs runs luxury buses between Guate City and a number of locations, including Flores.  It looks like you could book online if you need to. Take the reference to bar and food with a grain of salt. BYO adult beverages and food consisted of soda and a sandwich on the overnighter I was on.

Autobuses del Norte runs regular first class buses between Guate and Flores, including a night one.  If you want to be sure to sit alone, get a seat on the right side of the bus, but well behind the driver. #9 is good, as is #20. You can embark and disembark in Flores.


Fuente del Norte runs a lot of cheaper buses for getting from Guate to Flores and other locations, but it also has some much better ones, which I last saw running only at 7:30 AM way. That makes them worthless to me.


City Information and Hotels by Location


Look up by location at INGUAT



Posada Maya Bethel is not online but has a restaurant, allows camping and can arrange transportation down the Usumacinta to Mexico.  (502) 5801-1799 or 1800, but you can do that yourself when there. This is an important stopover only if you are late in the day and are heading to Palenque and Yaxchilán.



One of the comedors has rooms for 35Q per person as of January 2006


El Remate

La Casa de Don David 





Why I love Flores

Inexpensive list


Visit Flores on YouTube (in Spanish)

on Google Earth

La Posada de Don Jose is very friendly and inexpensive with Wifi.  Be sure to book ahead. It's next to the Hotel Sabana.

The Hotel Santana has Wifi, a pleasant pool

 and is nice for a small splurge.

Hostel Los Amigos has free wifi, and is a smoky budget place with a decent inexpensive restaurant. It also has extensive directions and bus and shuttle schedules on its website.

Hotel Sabana is less expensive than the other hotels in town with pools that I am aware of and it has a beautiful view from  the northern end of the isla.

Hotel Mirador del Lago. at Calle 15 de Septembre, 502 7926-3276, has a range of reasonable prices,  which include a one liter refill of water and a half hour of Internet.

Hotel Villa del Lago looks nice enough.

Casazul looks good with wifi a mini-fridge, AC and the use of pools in related hotels.

Inexpensive List


San Miguel

Near Flores on the Lake

Posada San Miguel



Also see Mostly Maya and El Remate


Melchor de Mencos

Rio Mopan Lodge is a bit expensive, but

 has a tour agency right there. 




Hotel Tropical Inn has parking and a pool

 in town and is not expensive. Avenida 15 de Septiembre, Poptún Tel: (502) 7927-7533


  South of town Finca Ixobel


Listen to Música from Poptún.


Raxrujá (right across the border from Petén toward Cobán)

El Amigo is inexpensive, has a pool and

 provides purified water.


San Jose

(Across the lago from Flores}

Expensive Hotel Bahia Taitza has rooms

and bungalows, hot water,  parking and a restaurant. 


Santa Elena

Jaguar Inn

 See a good comparison of the merits

of staying in Flores vs. Santa Elena.



The Guayacán is not terribly pricey and it is the the best place in Sayaxché, which isn't saying a lot. I have enjoyed sitting outside sipping a beer on its large porch after a hard day.    7926 6111

Hotel Petexbatun is not online, but it sounds

like a better buy.   7928 6166,


Near Sayaxché

(Anything listed below tends toward very expensive. If on a smallish budget, Sayaxché might be the place to stay)

Posada Caribe is  one hour by  boat from town, and also has camping  and e-mail.


Petex Batun Lodge is expensive, but also has dorm rooms.

Chiminos Island Lodge is on the Río de la Pasión. It is expensive, but it is in a wonderful location if you want to get away from it all and see some nearby ruins. However, if you are looking to see the ruins on the property,

don't expect to be impressed.


tikal1.jpg (40043 bytes)



These hotels are all expensive, but the Jungle Lodge may still have some small, dark cheaper rooms. Check on them in person. It also advertises having a pool.

The Jaguar Inn rents hammocks and mosquito nets that are already set up. These are first come; first served and cost $7 when I checked. so.  I understand that it also has tents for $10. Room reservations made by e-mail without a deposit are held until noon of the arrival day. There is a 10% surcharge on credit cards, so bring cash or traveler's checks.

Tikal Inn has a pool and direct e-mail that works for reservations and info. It also has expensive Internet for guests.


Comedor Imperio Maya has good food

 at decent prices for Tikal. So does the one next door.


Check in the restaurant at the Visitor's Center to see if one of their very basic lodgings is available for 50Q. You can also camp there for less, but you will need to leave belongings for safekeeping at the center while visiting the park.


You can also leave your pack at the Visitors' Center for a small fee if you are either heading to Uaxactún for the night or you decide to not spend the night at Tikal and return to Flores.


 Tikal does have a guide right there who is worth hiring. Arrange ahead of time to get Roxie Ortiz to guide you at Tikal on sunrise or sunset tours and to Yaxhá or Uaxactún. Also see current prices.



Check out El Remate



How to get there without a tour.

EcoCampamento is basic and has hammocks

with mosquito nets under a palapa.  7926 0077

El Chiclero has friendly management, inexpensive rooms, camping

and good food in its restaurant.



Eco-Sombrero is just a bit steep for what you get, but it is sort of nice and it is the only one available to outsiders there in case you are planning to spend the night.  Don't expect very much to eat for breakfast. The owner can also arrange trips to Nakúm, which is a wonderful site and to others. Correct phone numbers are (502) 7926-5228, fax (502) 7926-5528 , tel. (502) 7926-5229.


Some Other Petén Hotels. Most are not online,

but it does include some budget places. 






For good discussions of Maya ruins by non-native speakers of English in Guatemala, see


If I list a ruin tour, presume that it is on Youtube and is in Español.

Aguateca or see many photos and a tour

Altar de Sacrificios

Buenos Aires tour (hint, it has a nice breeze)
Cancuén and getting there. See a youtube visit in Spanish..

Dos Pilas

El Ceibal  

El Mirador and a very interesting tour

El Peru/Waka tour part 1

Part 2


La Blanca tour

La Corona (Site Q)

La Muerta (near El Mirador) tour

La Sufricaya

The Melchor de Mencos Stelae

(a collection of artifacts in town)

Motul de San Jose


Nakbé and tour


Naranjo Tour

Piedras Negras


Piedras Negras Youtube trip

Part 1 and Part 2 & History

San Bartolo

San Clemente in Spanish


Tikal Links

Tikal Map


Lots of Photos!

Online Tour of Tikal


Tzikin Tzakan tour

Ucanal tour


Uaxactún and getting there

Youtube tour



Thoughts on getting there


Wakná tour



Yaxhá Tour #1

Tour Part 2 Below




Back to top



 If you need more info, ask questions at Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, but don't be an

 ignoramus. Do a search there first before asking a question that may have been answered

only recently.  If you register and ask a question, the suggestions from travelers

can come straight to your email address.







Las Guacamayas Biological Station


Our package cost: (Prices are per person)

as of 8 September 2009
Tour             2 people      3 pax          4 pax          5 or more
 1 day tour   US$178.00    US$128.00 US$100.00 US$86.00
2 days tour US$358.00   US$266.00 US$215.00 US$190.00
3 days tour US$466.00  US$358.00 US$298.00 US$265.00
Just Lodging and 3 meals US$58.00 per person

Our package includes:
Transportation in 4X4 from Flores to Paso Caballos
Boat trip
Professional English tour guide
Local guide
Purified water







Time and Mileage Chart
















Flores La Maquina (entrance to Yaxhá) 1 62
Flores Guatemala City 7 488

Melchor de Mencos




San Ignacio (Belize)








Belize City




Rio Dulce











 Why I love Flores

Flores  is a great place to come back to after days or even a day in a jungle,   whether Petén or Lacandón. Sunsets over the lake are great, although with the newer periphery road, from the regular restaurants you are likely to see traffic go past in front of you and the dock restaurants ruin the sunset with noise. Sunrises and early mornings are accompanied by raucous birdsongs, so they are still pleasant.

It is a small city on a small island, but it has a wide range of hotels, and all but one of the seriously  expensive ones catering to very wealthy tourists are elsewhere. It is a logical base for seeing local ruins, such as Tikal, Yaxhá, Nakúm, El Peru and Naranjo, and for arranging trips to El Mirador and Nakbé. One can even take one of the regular boats from the northern end of the island to see the ruins of a Classic site above the village of San Miguel on your own. It is also good for arranging onward transportation when you are ready to leave. It is right across the causeway from Santa Elena, where there are more ATMs than the one next to Hotel Petén, and there is an interesting, though mostly non-artisan market.

I have stayed in Santa Elena, but seeing the cheerful lights over at Flores have drawn me back for the evening. The arrival of the tuk tuks has made getting around from Flores to the other nearby cities both colorful and inexpensive.




 Asociación de Transportes


You don't have to support the virtual monopoly of Tikal shuttles by San Juan Travel. This company is located in the Santa Elena bus station and lists buses to Tikal at 6, 6:30, 7, 8:30, 10, 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM, arriving two hours later. Later ones leaving at 1 and 3 PM continue onward to Uaxactún.

The phone is listed as 5849 8887.