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For a surreal camping experience, spend the night in Maya ruins

April 3rd 2019

Gaze up at a sky blanketed with stars and listen to the eerie sounds of the nocturnal jungle when you camp out in an incredible setting — among the temples in the Maya ruins of Uaxactún.

Nestled within the rainforested El Petén region in northern Guatemala, Uaxactún features an ancient observatory consisting of several temples that align perfectly with rising sun on the four season-changing dates of the calendar. Maya elites presided over the ceremonies from a viewing temple opposite the others, separated by an open courtyard.

At the adjacent campsite, each spacious tent sits atop an elevated deck with a tarp stretching overhead for extra protection from tropical rains. No need to deal with sleeping bags here, as your tent has two comfortable twin beds and a nightstand. Just a few steps away are restrooms with flush toilets and showers. (The water’s unheated, but in the tropical rainforest, the water never gets that cold anyway).

Sunset drinks with a view

As part of your small group adventure, you’ll tour the mysterious ruins — most likely having this fascinating but less-visited site to yourselves — and climb a 90-foot watchtower for a sunset drink. Take in a 360-degree vista of the ruins and endless jungle canopy; in the distance you may see the tallest temples of Tikal, about 14 miles south of Uaxactún, rising through the treetops.

Then set out with your guide for a spooky night tour to hear and see nocturnal creatures, such as bats, owls, opossums, and bizarre-looking insects that emerge after the sun goes down.

Your small group adventure continues with a lavish, traditional dinner, prepared by an indigenous chef and served under the stars at the base of a candle-lit temple.

Your unique jungle perch includes deck chairs on the platform outside your tent, ideal for listening to the early morning calls of monkeys and tropical birds as the forest awakens.

Hang out with locals

You’ll also get to know some of the locals, who live in the village situated within the ruins, and share a traditional, home-cooked lunch with a host family. Test your fútbol (soccer) skills in a friendly game with some of the older kids, too!

The town sustains itself with two main exports: chicle, the “chew” in your chewing gum, which is refined from tree sap that locals collect; and xate, a beautiful, bright green fern used in floral arrangements. You’ll get a first-hand look at both activities, and visit a museum filled with artifacts recovered from the ruins, as part of your immersion.

Taking you off the beaten path, and certainly off the grid, this surreal adventure opens a fascinating window to an amazing but relatively unknown part of Guatemala.

  • Adventure
  • Centroamerica Total
  • Culinary
  • Culture & History
  • Exploration
  • Guatemala
  • Guatemala Increible
  • Guatemala Total
  • Responsible Travel
  • Uncategorised
  • Wildlife

April 3rd 2019

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