Traces of the past in Guatemala

Trip description

For history lovers and/or lovers of archaeology, book 10 to 12 days to explore the Mayan past of Guatemala. During the entire stay you will be surrounded by tropical forests and travelling mainly to the northern part of the country. Guatemala is a destination that becomes a little more popular every year, but in most of the recommended villages and archaeological sites, it is rather a feeling of Indiana Jones of modern times that will prevail (still very little tourism in these different places)!

Day 1 : Cape to the North

From the capital, road for Cobán, then Chisec.

Day 2 : Ruins of Cancuén

From Chisec, visit the ruins of Cancuén, a large trading center where royal dynasties built one of the largest palaces in the Maya world. This site is still being excavated and restored. Night in Sayaxché.

Day 3 : On the banks of the Río River

Sayaxché is located on the Río de la Pasión, which leads to the Laguna Petexbatun, a area with many Maya sites. We start with that of Dos Pilas, the oldest military city in the lagoon. The remains of the palaces and temples bear witness to the terrible war that destroys the region.

Day 4 : Maya sites around Sayaxché

. Continue exploration.

Day 5 : Ruins of Aguateca

Discovery of the second capital of the region, Aguateca, hidden in the jungle. The city, a former centre of power inhabited by the royal families, was destroyed around 800. The archaeological research there is interrupted at the moment, but there is a breathtaking view of the surrounding area from the site.

Day 6 : Archaeological site of El Ceibal

By boat along the Río River, you can reach the famous El Ceibal site. This ceremonial centre was built at the top of a hill. His constructions bear witness to Mexican influence.

Day 7 : The Altar of Sacrifices

Coming down the river, we arrive at the site Altar de los Sacrificios (Altar of Sacrifice), one of the oldest Mayan lowlands, but it is not restored. Travel to Piedras Negras on the Río Usumacinta, below Yaxchilán.

Day 8 : In the jungle in Piedras Negras

Visit of the huge site of Piedras Negras, in full jungle, near the Mexican border. Piedras Negras was particularly well preserved: its thermal baths, palaces, stalls... These buildings are, however, little restored since excavations and searches only resumed after the civil war (1996) during which the guerrilla occupied the scene. Return to Sayaxché.

Day 9 : Piedras Negras, next

Continue exploration.

Day 10 : Tikal's famous Mayan temples

Road for Tikal in good morning, day on the Mayan site most known and most impressive. Visit of the Great Pyramid, acropolis, temples 1, 2 and 6, twin pyramids, etc. Night on site.

Day 11 : Return to the capital

Return to the capital, Guatemala Ciudad, to take your return flight.

© Dominique Auzias & Jean-Paul Labourdette

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A stay of one month is the ideal time to have a general "overview" of the country. The density of sites would require a very sustained pace to move closer to a hypothetical comprehensiveness, in the name of which one would deprive the people of the country of their daily lives.

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