Lake Petén Itzá
Lake Petén Itzá is surrounded by an old-growth forest of ceibas and mahogany trees. Animals of the region can be observed from the Cerro Cahuí Biotope Reserve, a forest reserve on the shores of the lake.Flores, the capital of the Petén department, sits on one of the lake's islands.
On the northeast shore of Lake Petén Itzá this dense jungle of Cerro Cahuí contains 60 species of trees, approximately 28 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds including the ocellated turkey, a large bird with bright blue-turquoise feathers.One of the smallest protected areas in Guatemala at 650ha/1,608ac, it offers good foot paths that inform visitors about tropical jungle regeneration and to climb its 300m/1,000 ft hill with a views over Lake Petén Itzá.
Peaceful Flores is situated on an island in Lake Petén Itzá and tied to the town of Santa Elena by a 500m/1640ft causeway.Flores' pastel-colored buildings, its church and government buildings are arranged around the main plaza, which crowns the hill in the center of the island.Flores was once a Maya ceremonial center. In the 17th C it was a Spanish outpost, and today is the capital of the Petén district.
The Centro De Informacion Sobre La Naturaleza, Cultura Y Artesania Del Petén (CINCAP) exhibits local natural and cultural history and highlights regional arts and crafts. It's a center for tourists looking for environmentally-friendly attractions in the region.
The Mayan ruins of Tayasal are mostly hidden by vegetation. The tree-house lookout at the top of the hill offers a view of the aquamarine Lake Petén Itzá the second largest lake in Guatemala.
The Actun Kan is a partially-lit limestone cave with rock formations, waterfalls and bats and is the legendary home of a huge snake.
Santa Elena, Guatemala
Santa Elena is the business center of Petén offering banks, hotels plus a post office, bus terminal and airport.
Petencito is a zoo and nature area popular with local families. The zoo features Guatemalan wildlife including a jaguar and margay plus armadillos, monkeys, crocodiles and parrots with signs identifying the animals labeled in Spanish, English, and Maya. Well-maintained nature trails lead to a tree-house look-out.