Destination of the Week :: Yuxha Mayan City

When visiting Guatemala, there are specific tourist sites that you simply must visit. Guatemala City is a city that is modern, wealthy, and completely underrated; Semuc Champey invites with natural pools for a refreshing dip, Lake Atitlan is one of the most beautiful lakes we have visited, and Antigua is a charming town rich with culture, history and a great culinary experiences. Most tourists head to Tikal, but perhaps you should as we do and choose to visit Yuxha National Park (Blue-Green Water in Mayan) instead.

It may smaller than Tikal, but it is the third largest Mayan city in Guatemala, and you won’t find hordes of tourists lingering, waiting for the perfect Instagram shot. Instead, you can hear the howler monkeys’ screeches echoing across the valley, spot the spider monkeys clambering among the Annona trees, and admire the ample birdlife fluttering above.

The ruins are easy to navigate with not too much ground to cover, and after 3 hours, you will have probably navigated much of the ruins.

There are over 500 structures, including nine pyramids, two ballcourts, and numerous stelae (an upright stone slab or column typically bearing a commemorative inscription), with the highest temple reaching over 30 meters high.

A sunset atop the Temple of the Red Hands is an ideal way to end your trip to Yuxha National Park, with breathtaking views spanning across the jungle and Lake Yaxha.

The current fee for foreigners to enter Yuxha National Park is QT80 / USD10 per person.
The park is open from 08h00 to 18h00 daily

The above entrance fee also includes Naranjo, Nakum, and Topoxte, but these ruins are further into the National Park and will require a few more hours of adventuring and sightseeing.

How to get there

  • Several tour groups operate from Flores and El Renate.
  • It will take approximately two hours to drive from Flores to Yuxha National Park, and once there, a quick hour takes you to the border with Belize.
  • If you don’t have your own transport or use a tour operator, rent a taxi or a shuttle bus to take you to the entrance of Yuxha National Park, as there is no public transport available in the area.

Where to stay

  • Yuxha National Park has camping available. The camping is free when paying for entry to the National Park, and while not the most luxurious camp, it is incredibly well situated on the banks of the Yaxha Lagoon. No pets are allowed, unfortunately.
  • Campamento Ecol√≥gico El Sombrero is a short walk from the National Park’s entrance. They have several cabanas available and allow camping for small campers or tenters. No pets allowed.
  • A small tienda, two miles from the National Park entrance, allows camping. Although a little basic, it has everything you need at a fraction of the cost of El Sombrero. They allow pets and will care for your pet while you visit Yuxha for the day.

Read more about Yuxha’s history here.

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Luisa Bell has always had a passion for travel, but she never imagined that she would travel the world, with her family, in a self-built Land Rover Defender camper. As the navigator, administrator, and penetrator of bureaucracy, she has led her family to over 65 countries on five continents. Luisa is the wife of Graeme, and their quarter-century together feels like a full century in overlander years. Her two kids and her dog are her pride and joy, and if she could travel with them indefinitely, she would. With a background in immigration law, she has the ability to make the impossible possible and has no plan of settling down or retiring her full-time traveler status. Follow her adventures at www.a2aexpedition.com