- Hiking / Trekking
- Archaeological Site
- Place or Historical Monument
- Off the beaten track
As this wasn't my first trip to Guatemala, I wanted to discover some places which were a bit more secret, untouched and off the classic tourist routes. This was how I discovered an archaeological site lost in a world of water and thick forest, Aguateca. Located in the tropical region of Petén, getting to this ancient Mayan city is less than an hour away by boat on the calm waters of the Pasión River. Discovered in the 50s, Aguateca is a unique site. It was built as a defensive fortress and sits at the top of a huge cliff several metres high on the banks of Petexbatún Lake.
What immediately struck me when I first came across the setting was why the Mayans had chosen such a hostile environment in which to build the city. In fact, Aquateca previously controlled the only trade route to the impressive neighbouring kingdom of Dos Pilas. In a period marked by innumerable conflicts, and in a location bordered by a deep gorge and only accessible via a discrete geological fault, Aguateca was one of the most strategic cities. But this strong advantage wasn't enough and the city eventually perished after being burned by invaders.
Today, you can reach this free site by embarking on a beautiful hike in the heart of the rain forest. It offers an interesting set of headstones and palaces, the remains of the kingdom's many victories.
Although I was practically devoured by mosquitoes in the rainy season, I would still recommend the site to any adventure lovers who want to discover Guatemala and its history in greater depth.