Yaxhá’s sophisticated builders left behind more than 500 structures, including nine temple pyramids, two ball courts, forty unusually carved stelae, and numerous causeways. Climb to the top of Temple 216 for remarkable views over the lakes and rivers. While the city must have become quite isolated during the Mayan civilization’s (and Tikal’s) collapse between 800 and 900 AD, it continued to function well into the 1500s.
Today, Yaxhá is rarely visited, and therefore offers a peaceful and introspective experience of the Mayan world. Birders and wildlife watchers will especially appreciate the solitude, as well as the numerous crocodiles in the lake.
Your entry fee covers all sites within Yaxhá-Nakum-Naranjo National Park, an enormous 37,160-hectare (144-square-mile) expanse that includes three other major sites: Topoxte, on the south shore of the Lake Yaxhá; Nakum, an ancient port on the Holmul River; and Naranjo, about 20km (12mi) north, Yaxhá’s long-time rival. While you can visit all of them, poor roads and worse maps make that an adventure best undertaken with a guide.