The Guatemala Tourist Board has launched a new programme to attract more visitors to the Peten region in the north of the country through the development of new facilities and the promotion of tourism products such as the Carmelita-El Mirador circuit or the new Maya Trek.
The region is home to the Maya Biosphere Reserve, the largest protected area in Guatemala occupying 19 per cent of the national territory, as well as important Maya sites like Tikal.
The tourist board is working with the town of San Andres in the Peten distict to build new tourist facilities in the community of Carmelita, which is the starting point for the Carmelita-El Mirador tourist circuit.
Visitors will be able to find information about this route to plan their visit, and also learn more about the area’s outstanding natural environment, its people and their way of life.
The Carmelita-El Mirador Circuit is a two-day hike through the jungle of the Maya Biosphere Reserve to reach El Mirador, the largest Maya city discovered to date (and a two-day hike back).
El Mirador National Park features two major architectural groups: the Tiger Complex, which includes a large 60-metre high pyramid with a base of 58,000 square metres, surrounded by two smaller ones; and La Danta Complex, which reaches a height of 75 metres and stands out at the top of a hill.
A visit to El Mirador National Park itself requires a minimum of three hours to explore the different Maya monuments and roads as well as the Maya Biosphere.
There are also other smaller Maya sites in the area worth visiting such as El Tintal, La Florida and La Wakna.
Another innovative way of exploring the area is the recently launched Maya Trek, a three-day adventure through the Maya Biosphere Reserve which takes visitors through different archaeological sites and protected natural spaces between the community of Cruce de dos Aguas and Tikal National Park.
The 50 kilometres trek follows the Buenavista Valley, one of the main commercial routes in the Pre-Classic and Classic Maya Periods (from 800BC to 1200AD), controlled from the city of El Zotz.
Besides Tikal, the Maya Biosphere Reserve includes many other archaeological sites of interest such as Yaxha, PIedras Negras, Nakum, El Ceibal, Uaxactun, Aguateca and Dos Pilas.