This northeast region of Guatemala contains about 30% of the country’s land but only 3% of its population. The area was mostly isolated until the 1960s but has always been the home of dozens of Mayan archaeological sites, as well as tropical swamps, jungles, and rain forests teeming with unique wildlife and plant life.
Birds such as toucans, hummingbirds, and hawks are common, as well as mammals such as the ocelots, jaguars, and monkeys, and hundreds more colorful reptile and insect species. Ancient mahogany trees and dense jungle canopy much of the forest. The area is considered endangered, and conservation of the rainforest’s unique biodiversity has only recently come to the forefront as the human population continues to expand. Forty percent of the forest is protected under the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
The Lago de Petén Itzá and the town of Flores are the hubs within Petén Forest from which to explore the area. The highlight for most visitors is a trip to the impressive ruins of Tikal, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Petén region of Guatemala is bordered by Belize on the east and by Mexico in the north. Its capital, Flores, can be reached via Guatemala City by bus or plane. The flight time is 50 minutes from Guatemala City, and driving time is approximately 8 hours.