Aguateca Archaeological Site
Mayan archaeological site Aguateca sits atop a hill along the coast of the Petexbatún Lagoon in Guatemala’s Peten department. Hastily abandoned after an attack around 830AD, the city has a ghost town ambiance reminiscent of Pompei. Penned in by a defensive wall are some 700 structures including royal and elite residences and a grand plaza.
Because the city was so quickly abandoned, everyday relics were preserved in place, offering archaeologists an unprecedented look at everyday Mayan life.Reach Aguateca by motorized canoe, passingxa0 through the Petexbatún Wildlife Refuge, a birders paradise of mangroves and marshlands, before crossing a stone bridge that spans a massive ravine and hiking up to the city for epic views of the Petexbatún Basin. Several plaster walls and murals dating from the Classic Period, when Aguateca and neighboring Dos Pilas formed the region’s dominant polity, are unique to the region.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Aguateca is an ideal spot for history buffs, archaeologists, hikers, and nature lovers.
- The site is quite a trek to reach and is not wheelchair accessible.
- Wear appropriate clothing and shoes to hike the long trail.
How to Get There
Aguateca is located along the shores of the Petexbatún Lagoon in Guatemala’s northern Peten Department. From Flores, take a 3-hour bus to the small service town of Sayaxché, then a 1.5-hour canoe trip on Rio Pasion, before starting the uphill trek to the ruins.
When to Get There
To explore Aguateca, start your day early, since it will take 5-6 hours to reach the site from Flores. The climate in Guatemala is pleasant throughout the year. Try to avoid visiting on a rainy day since the trail will be muddy and slippery.
Punta de Chimino Head just a bit north from Aguateca to Punta de Chimino, a Mayan archaeological site on the west coast of the lagoon. Highlights here include an Acropolis, a main square, altar platforms, a ceremonial pyramid, residential structures, and a number of intricately carved stones artefacts.
- Seibal (Ceibal)
- Pasión River (Rio La Pasión)
- Petén Forest
- Actún Can Caves
- Ixpanpajul Natural Park (Parque Natural Ixpanpajul)
- Petencito Zoo
- Lake Peten Itza (Lago Petén Itzá)
- Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)
- Maya Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera Maya)
- Estación Biológica las Guacamayas (EBG)