El Mirador, Parque Nacional El Mirador - Río Azul - Biotopo Dos Lagunas
The trail is operated by community of Carmelita, the northernmost village of Petén located close to the Mexican border. This community was founded 60 years ago as an important base for chicle collection and processing. Chicle is the resin of the Chico- zapote tree, which forms the natural base of chewing gum. Another rainforest product is the xate palm frond which is used in floral arrangements. The villagers of Carmelita have always depended on the surrounding forest for their livelihood and have extracted these non-timber forest products in a sustainable manner.
This trail explores the ancient Lost Maya city of El Mirador. Legend has it that at its height, El Mirador was four times as grandiose as Tikal.
This impressive site remains one of the most isolated and understudied of the great Maya ruins. Until very recently, archaeological and scientific research has been undertaken by the Guatemalan government and international educational institutions.
The ruins, mostly unexcavated, are still predominantly intact, aided by the dense jungle canopy which covers them, protecting them from erosion. Probably the most impressive structure in the pyramid complex of “La Danta”, which stands at an unprecedented height of 18 stories, the highest pyramid yet discovered in the Maya world, with a base size of 18,000 sq. mts.
Over 200 other buildings in this gigantic complex still remain unexcavated and unmapped.
Come and explore one of the greatest legacies left by the Maya Civilization, El Mirador.
Early departure from Flores, the group will board a van for a two hour ride to the village of Carmelita. Upon arrival, we share a traditional Guatemalan breakfast in a local "comedor" or café. After breakfast, we depart for El Tintal archaeological site. El Tintal features monumental architecture dating to the Middle Pre-classic similar to that found at El Mirador but not that majestic. Lunch served en route, camp and dinner at the chiclero-style camp of El Tintal.
After breakfast, hike and/or horseback ride all day until we reach El Mirador base camp facilities. This will take approx. 7 hours, maybe more, making it a long and hard day, but we'll have the chance of star gazing like it happened about 2,000 years ago. We'll make a stop at the site of La Muerta just before entering El Mirador to see some important petro-glyphs and important stone works. Wildlife watching in late afternoon. Dinner and camping at El Mirador.
Explore the giant Mayan pre-classic city of El Mirador. Over 2000 years old, many archeologists speculate that El Mirador was the first major organized settlement of the ancient Maya. The ruins are of such staggering size and proportion that they dominate more popular sites like the ruins of Tikal.
Their enormity suggests that a city-state government ruled the area, thus negating earlier held theories that only warring chieftains dominated the pre-classic Period. Among these buildings is the temples of La Danta, the largest ever built by the Maya, over 18 stories tall with a base the size of three football fields and the triple pyramid of El Tigre with the marvelous stucco "tiger" face of Structure 34.
The extensive site lies (for the most part) unexcavated, but undergoing intensive archaeological and scientific research, occupies over 16 sq. km. of primary forest. We rest in the evening and overnight at El Mirador camp for our second night.
Days 4 & 5
Return begins back to Carmelita with camp at El Tintal or at an alternative camp (approx. 8 hrs.). Explore the nearby ruins and camp in El Tintal. We arrive in Carmelita in the afternoon of the fifth day.
Enjoy more of the jungle!
El Mirador trail can be extended to other important sites:
El Mirador - Nakbé, six days- five nights
El Mirador- Nakbé- La Muralla, seven days- six nights.
El Mirador Trail is recommended to people in good physical condition, prepared to cope with long cups and rugged terrain under high heat and high humidity. In many cases it is advisable that you ride a horse and combine it with hiking through the long cup-passes (terrain below sea level in some cases).
Virtually every day in the expedition is spent walking or riding horses. Eight hour treks are not uncommon.
Safety in the region:
The political situation in Guatemala has improved significantly over the last several years. In 1996 a U.S. State Department travel warning for Guatemala was lifted and a peace accord was signed, bringing to an end many years of political unrest throughout the country.
Tourism is a foundation of the Petén economy, and the local people are welcoming to tourists. As when traveling to any foreign country, individuals should always use good judgment and take the necessary safety precautions.