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Uaxactun Mayan site


The monumental pyramids of Tikal are simply world-class. They are arguably the best Mayan site and have blown the mind of every member of the Steppes Travel team that has been there.

Through the knowledge, contacts and guile of our expert guides, we would hope to deliver you an experience of this incredible temple complex that few others can.

Dating back to 4th Century BC, with 33 rulers over 800 years, Tikal was central to the Mayan civilisation politically and economically, trading with much of Mesoamerica until defeated, it is believed, by Teotihuacan in the 4th Century AD. Tikal is as exotic and alien today as it seemed in 1977 when it was cast as the backdrop for the rebel fighter jets in Star Wars Episode IV. Notwithstanding this oblique reference, Tikal remains one of the great Mayan, if not the great sites of the world.

Sunset, Tikal National Park, Guatemala
Sunset, Tikal National Park, Guatemala

About Tikal

Declared a UNESCO site in 1979, Tikal is one of the largest archaeologist sites of the Pre-Colombian Maya civilisation. Located in Peten, in the north of Guatemala, Tikal emerges from the tangled jungle commemorating a powerful Mayan Empire. Exotic animals and birds of all shapes, sizes and colour inhabit the forests that were once home to an astutely developed group of people, irrevocably linked to their environment.

Yaxha, Guatemala
Yaxha, Guatemala

Uaxactun and Yaxha

Twenty-five kilometres from Tikal through the jungle lies Uaxactun, so named by its ‘rediscoverer’ American archaeologist Sylvanus Morley. Uaxactun is post-classical Mayan and predates its famous counterpart Chichen Itza. The site is believed to contain 17 layers over 1,700 years from 800 BC to 900 AD. Key features are the royal chambers and the astronomical pyramids. However, the charm of Uaxactun is that it’s not a reconstructed site. Mounds covered in foliage and gnarled trees lie untouched. Yaxha is the third largest site in Guatemala after El Mirador and Tikal. Arguably it is famed for its lake causeway and indeed it is the causeway that makes Yaxha a riveting visit of more than three hours. For us, the charm of Yaxha lies in its remoteness and the surrounding jungle and lake.

Tikal Ruins, Guatemala
Tikal Ruins, Guatemala

Highlights of Guatemala

Unveiling some of the most visually stunning landscapes in vibrant Guatemala, this trip journeys from dazzling high altitude lakes to ancient Mayan ruins.
Encompassing Shaman ceremonies, traditional textile weaving workshops and an expertly guided tour of Tikal, this customisable itinerary is designed to give a comprehensive introduction to one of the most vivid countries in Central America.

8 days

from £3,215 pp

See holiday idea

Scarlet Macaw, Copan Mayan Ruins, Honduras
Copan Mayan Ruins, Honduras

Epic Maya Journey: Mexico, Guatemala & Honduras

An exploration of the ancient Maya sites of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, this route strikes the perfect balance between ancient temples, dense jungles and dazzling lakes. Unveil some of the most visually stunning landscapes in the Americas and a series of world-renowned archaeological sites, with the added bonus of having a chance to attend a private Shaman ceremony.

20 days

from £8,215 pp

See holiday idea


Tell us what you love doing and we’ll curate a journey that’s perfect for you.

Tikal, Guatemala

Picnic lunch within the ruins

Explore the archaeological park and then find a shaded spot between the Maya superstructures for a luxury picnic lunch

Suggested Holiday Idea

Uaxactun Mayan site

Uaxactun and Yaxha

Visit some of the more remote nearby sites of Uaxactun and Yaxha.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Tikal, Guatemala

Temple IV

Climb to the top of Temple IV, for glorious views above the jungle canopy.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Tikal Ruins, Guatemala

Overnight at the ruins

Stay next to Tikal for early access to the archaeological zone and to discover the sounds of the surrounding jungle at night.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

John Faithfull

John’s most recent trip to Guatemala was for Semana Santa (Holy Week), a heady mix of colourful processions where huge swaying floats are carried on the shoulders of purple-clad brotherhoods in high pointed headgear who shuffle through billowing clouds of incense.

Talk with our experts
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So many thanks indeed for the care and time that you put into organising this trip for us. I cannot underestimate the value of the latter in terms of reading what we wanted and then advising on the best way to achieve that. As I am sure you will know only too well, other operators are over keen to sell “this is what we do”, and make the sale. So thank you for putting together what will be a really memorable experience for us.

Destination: Guatemala
Travel Expert: James

John's advice on unique locations and experiences throughout Guatemala were invaluable.

Destination: Guatemala
Travel Expert: John

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

Are you ready to discover extraordinary once again?

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