In the northeast region of Guatemala, Petén Forest is made up of dense swamp and jungle habitats connected via a chain of lakes, 40 percent of which is within the protected Maya Biosphere Reserve. The forest is home to dozens of Maya archaeological sites, and the highlight for most visitors is a trip to the impressive ruins of Tikal.
Petén Forest attracts adventurous nature lovers with a wide variety of ecotourism activities, including ziplining, hiking, and visiting Maya ruins. Birds such as toucans, hummingbirds, and hawks are common, as are ocelots, jaguars, spider and howler monkeys, and hundreds more colorful reptile and insect species.
Most visitors explore the forest as part of a tour from the town of Flores. Another hub from which to visit the area is Lake Petén Itzá.
Things to Know Before You Go
Guatemala’s Petén Forest is a must-see for nature, wildlife, and Maya archaeology lovers.
Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces, and bring mosquito repellent and a light rain jacket.
Set aside time to visit the Maya ruins of Tikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
How to Get There
The Petén region of Guatemala is bordered by Belize on the east and by Mexico on the north and west. You can reach its capital, Flores—which serves as the jumping off point for Petén Forest tours and day trips to the Tikal ruins—via Guatemala City by bus or plane.
When to Get There
You can visit the Petén Forest year-round, however the best time to go is between November and April, when rainfall is at its lowest. To avoid the crowds at Tikal, visit during the rainy season (May to October) and come prepared for wet weather.
While in Guatemala’s Petén Forest, don’t miss a visit to the UNESCO-listed Maya ruins of Tikal. Set deep in the jungle, the Tikal archaeological site is comprised of temples, plazas, and pyramids. Highlights include the Temple of the Grand Jaguar, the Northern Acropolis, and the Temple of Inscriptions. Tikal is easily accessible from Flores.
- Actún Can Caves
- Petencito Zoo
- Seibal (Ceibal)
- Lake Peten Itza (Lago Petén Itzá)
- Ixpanpajul Natural Park (Parque Natural Ixpanpajul)
- Aguateca Archaeological Site
- Maya Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera Maya)
- Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)
- Estación Biológica las Guacamayas (EBG)
- Pasión River (Rio La Pasión)