There are countless well-known tourist attractions in the world – easy to reach and with good transport connections. And then – there is something for adventure people of Indiana Jones kind, like this lost city of Mayan – “El Mirador”.
When I heard of it for the first it took me exact 5 years to organize, plan and to get there, as by that time, there was no tourist path. Since my first visit in the jungles has passed 6 years and after that I have been there already several times more. So now I am ready to share my insight tips of How to get to one of the lost city of Mayan – El Mirador.
What to think before
- El Mirador ruins is located in Northern part of Guatemala. In deep and humid jungle – the only way to get there is by foot. 50km one way..
- This adventure is not for everyone, as it is hard, challenging and definitely will place you out of your comfort zone. Sure it is fairly dangerous too.
But if you even considering of doing it – you are already halfway there and this will become your adventure of lifetime.
- The adventure and hike to the lost city of Mayan will take minimum 5 days. You can visit nearby Nakbe ruins too, for additional extra day hike.
Plus on top of that consider extra days of getting to the jungles for first. You need at least one week to complete the minimum. Think about that before you have it on your adventure schedule.
How to get there
- To get there you have to go to Flores city – touristic, but charming island, which will be your base camp.
- There are various places to stay, but I prefer this - Hotel La Casa del Lacandon / Waterfront Hotel
- Don’t miss the ruins of Tikal for impressive acclimatization mood.
- You have several options while in Flores – you can book the whole package with one of numerous tour agencies – Visit Tikal and El Mirador. This will cost you around 500Us
- You can organize or plan it yourself
- Shuttle buses from Flores to Tikal run from 3.30 am to 1.30 pm and you can ask for a guided or unguided tour in English or Spanish. Ask for more updated info in your hotel.
I always visit El Mirador with the help of my friend – local guide Alex. He is the person to trust and have great time while in jungle. You can contact him by email Alex.firstname.lastname@example.org and mention that Ray send you :)
He will buy the food, organize the horses (to carry your backpacks, food and water) and transportation to the jungle village Carmelita
- Once in Carmelita village, you will be asked to visit the “tourist office” shed and sign in the book. (I guess in the case you are lost). Now you are ready to start your lifetime adventure
!!! DO NOT EVEN THINK OF ENTERING THE JUNGLE ON YOUR OWN !!!
The jungle hike
Pick up in Flores and Transfer to Carmelita (80km)
Jungle walk to base camp in Tintal ruins (16km – aprox. 5-6h)
Dinner will be served on arrival
Sunset on the top of the Catzin temple
Early breakfast and hike to El Mirador (25km – aprox. 8h)
Lunch break in the middle of jungle
Sunset tour in El Mirador ruins
Dinner before the night
Full day to explore the ruins of El Mirador
Sunset on top of one of the largest pyramids in the world “El Danta”
Sunrise over the jungles
Early breakfast and walk back
Night in Tintal ruins base camp
Breakfast and last days walk out of the jungle
Transfer from Carmelita village back to Flores
Arriving at Flores at late afternoon
What to bring with you
I choose Keen, as deep mud, water and humidity is not the best option for heavy hiking boots. And you won’t need any socks or to dry them.
Never had any blisters, either.
Last year, one of my travelers, chose to walk all the way in “fivefingers”.
I was skeptical at the beginning, but eventually was pleasantly surprised how good they are in such a rough environment.
- Rain jacket
- Waterproof bags for your documents
- Mosquito spray (although Alex will introduce you with some native “antibug” plants)
- Light clothes as temperature might reach +32C with 90% humidity
- Any guide you will go with will have anti-venom emergency kit with him. In case of any dangerous snake or spider bite
- With that said – consider to get a good insurance too.
I go with WorldsNomads Insurance offer - https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-insurance/
- If you like to take videos or pictures – think about the high humidity and dense jungle hard to maneuver. Waterproof and light cameras like GoPro wins over any DSLR.
- On your walk in the jungle, your main bag will be packed on horses and send via different route, so you won’t see until at the base camp. Think what basic things – like water you might need more.
- Over the nights you will stay in the tents in the archeologist base.
- Showers and toilets are simple plastic-wood sheds with bucket of water.
As I mentioned at the beginning – this is 8/10 difficulty level adventure. As well as a physical it is a mental challenge too. 100km by foot is not for everyone.
Mosquitos, swamp, mud, rain, and never-ending wall of green forest tapestry.
But the prize – once you climb the Danta temple, and the green jungle carpet lies under your foot is absolutely breathtaking..
When to go
- The best season is the dry season - from late November to April. It is also the time when the team of hundreds of archeologist return to the lost city of mayan for further explorations.
So needless to say – you won’t be and won’t feel alone in these remote jungle ruins.
- I prefer to go around mid October- mid November. That’s end of the rain season so there won’t be more than 3 locals guards in El Mirador.
But – as it happened to us several years ago, we were surprised by massive flood and mud. From 100km of walk - 80km was under the deep water and mud. It was insane and hardcore. But those things you cannot predict. If you decide to walk around the rain season – be ready for it.
Each year more and more people search for un-walked paths for the real and vivid experience. El Mirador is definitely one of those. Only because of its remote location, in next 20 years, there won’t be any better roads to get there.
So for now one of the biggest and most important lost city Mayans ever build, like an abandoned shipwreck with the crew that has surrendered in front of the jungle, lies deep in the jungle, in this dark forest.