Mayan ruins luxury travel begins in Guatemala’s largest and northernmost department of Petén, a vast and jungle-covered no man’s land. This sparsely populated region may occupy a third of the country’s surface area, but it contains only about three-percent of its population. Yet what the area lacks in people it makes up for in historical value. This is both the birthplace and heartland of the ancient Maya civilization, filled to the brim with hundreds of ancient artifacts and ruins. Its numerous jungle-shrouded sites have deemed it the most important region in the Mayan world where legends are born and live on in fascinating archaeological mystery.

Stealing the spotlight during Mayan ruins luxury travel through Petén is Tikal, long considered the largest excavated Maya city and certainly worth the trip to Guatemala by itself. This city and ceremonial center contains astonishing pyramids and temples and some of the most fascinating remains of the Maya world dating back to 900 AD. No journey to Guatemala is complete without a stay in the beautiful lakeside settlement of Flores, where visitors can witness the sun rise over the ruins and their surrounding rainforest reserve.

Outside of Tikal, Petén also plays host to several more secluded Mayan complexes—like Ceibal, Aguateca, San Bartolo, Uaxactún, and the ever-peaceful Yaxhá—the majority of which lie in the depths of the jungle out of reach to many visitors. In terms of scale and historical importance, however, El Mirador takes the prize. This 2,500-year old superpower is perhaps the most undiscovered of the Mayan sites in Guatemala, home to the biggest pyramid of the Mayan world and rumored to be outperforming Tikal in potential archaeological magnitude. No matter the complex, travelers are guaranteed a serenade of jungle sounds. All of Petén’s ruins are surrounded by a huge expanse of tropical forests alive with monkeys, jaguars, parrots, macaw, toucans, and an extraordinary range of bird wildlife. Some 285 bird species have been sighted in Tikal alone. This is due to Petén’s distinct position within the Maya Biosphere Reserve, a multinational wildlife haven covering four biotopes, five national parks, and 8,100-square miles shared with Mexico and Belize.

Whether channeling your inner Indiana Jones, discovering the mysteries of the ancient Maya, or appreciating the biological bounty of the jungle, Mayan ruins luxury travel through Petén promises an abundance of adventure. Contact Ker & Downey to delve into the famed legacy of the Maya on your next custom journey to Central America.