El Mirador - Mula on the Path

El Mirador – Pyramids hidden in the Jungle – Guatemala Adventure

   

The highest pyramids and the largest Maya town ever detected, El Mirador in Guatemala is not only a site full of superlatives. It is the most adventurous travel destination for people interested in the ancient culture of the Mayas.

El Mirador – A Real  Treasure Hidden in the Rain Forest

No street, just mule trails across the jungle lead to this amazing place. For centuries hidden in the sub-tropical forest, only jaguars and monkeys were aware of the existence of the stony mountains between the trees.

El Mirador - Look from El Tigre to La Danta - Amazing Temple
El Mirador – Look from El Tigre to La Danta – Amazing Temples

Mountains that were pyramids before the nature took place. Pyramids build by humans 2000 years before, to worship some long forgotten gods. The few chicleros who found this place called it “El Mirador” – what means “lookout” – because the ruins of these buildings exceed the surrounding forest by a big extend.

El Mirador - In front of the Top of La Danta - the photo was taken from the second last level of the hughe pyramid
El Mirador – In front of the Top of La Danta – the photo was taken from the second last level of the hughe pyramid

Awesome! One of the biggest pyramids in the world

El Mirador was a very huge city. Bigger than any other of the surrounding Mayan cities, bigger than Tikal, Yaxchilan or Palenque. And it is an old city. It might have been founded before 600 BC in the pre-classical period. El Mirador could have been inhabited by 100.000 people during its high period. Like all cities of the area, it was abandoned around 890 AC. 1500 years of a lost civilization.

Structures in El Mirador - Guatemala - Jungle Adventure
Structures in El Mirador – Guatemala – Jungle Adventure

Amazing Temples and Pyramids

The three main pyramids are called El Tigre, Los Monos and La Danta. All three have been constructed with  several levels. Each of them has a group of three temple pyramids on top. The height of El Tigre is 55 m, La Danta is 70 m, and Los Monos 48 m. Due to a volume of  2,800,000 cubic meters La Danta is one of the biggest pyramids in the world.

   
El Mirador - Archaeologists at Work - Guatemala Adventure
El Mirador – Archaeologists at Work – Guatemala Adventure

The Trip to El Mirador – Hiking Adventure in the Jungle of Guatemala

To get there, you have to walk. Sometimes it is possible to ride on mules. But walking is faster and allows you to watch the nature more close. It is a 5-day trip to El Mirador and back.


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Day 1

The first day will begin with a drive to Carmelita, 60 miles north of the Lago Petén. This is the last village, that can be reached by car. In Carmelita the walk will begin.

Anna and the Frog
Anna and the Frog

A guide and a mula  will accompany you.  The mules are required to transport the food, water and additional luggage. This first day will end in Tintal. Tintal is another Maya site with temple pyramids, but less important than El Mirador. The restauration work at this place is not as intensive as in El Mirador.

El Mirador - Sleeping Maya Princess - Guatemala Jungle Adventure
El Mirador – Sleeping Maya Princess – Guatemala Jungle Adventure

Day 2

After a wonderful night with camp fire, mosquitos and strange jungle sounds you will continue the walk and reach El Mirador on the second evening.

Day 3
After a second night, get up early before the sunrise and climb up to El Tigre. You will have a perfect view around and see the sun come up at the horizon, coloring the jungle with  a fantastic light. This third day is for looking, exploring and watching.  Go to see La Danta, Los Monos, El Tigre. If you are lucky, you can watch and talk with archaeologists.

El Mirador Hike - The Guide - Examining a beehive
El Mirador Hike – The Guide – Examining a beehive

Day 4 and 5
On the fourth morning you will leave El Mirador and after another night in the jungle you will be back in Carmelita.

Some advice, based on my experience of 2008

Good shoes:  If you are not used, don’t try to walk this distance with rubber boots, as the locals do. I was there during the rain period and found that the trail was in a good condition for regular walking boots.

El Mirador - The Mula
El Mirador – The Mula

Clothes: Use trousers, not shorts. There are snakes, tarantulas and scorpions waiting for you. Yes, just for you.

Hygiene: Water is limited. Don’t expect to have a possibility to shower. Tooth brushing should be possible. A shower with fresh water is impossible. After 3 days you will smell like a buffalo, what makes you less attractive for the mosquitos.

Green Frog On Ancient Mayan Ceramics - Red Eyes - El Mirador - Guatemala
Green Frog On Ancient Mayan Ceramics – Red Eyes – El Mirador – Guatemala

Insect repellent: Have enough with you ! Expect heavy attacks ! In San José, north of the Lago Peten, is an organization, that produces traditional Mayan medicine. They sell a lotion against mosquitoes made from the extracts of plants. The benefit is, that this is not washed down when you sweat.  I had it with me and used it during the five days. On the third day after using this, the mosquitos stopped to attack me.

Climbing up to El Tigre - El Mirador - Amazing Temples and Pyramids
Climbing up to El Tigre – El Mirador – Amazing Temples and Pyramids

Light is attractive: It’s not bad to have a flash light with you, but don’t use it when you eat in the night at the camp fire.  You might be anxious that some animals fall in you soup, tea or coffee.  Don’t care, you cannot change it. But if you try to light your dish to examine the content, you will attract complete armies of insects of all sizes. Their only desire is to jump in your vegetarian spaghetti bolognese. So it’s better you eat in the darkness and allow the insects to jump in the soup of your friends.

How to get to El Mirador:

Don’t try to do this trip on your own! It’s dangerous. Ask one of the tourist offices in Flores. They organize guided tours and mules for the luggage.

Have fun !

Recommended Reading

A wonderful article about the trip to El Mirador by Claire and Marcella can be found at  “Best regards from far” :

A 5-day jungle expedition to discover the ancient Maya capital of El Mirador, Guatemala

A second post on this amazing website describes the historical aspects of El Mirador:

Exploring the cradle of the Maya civilization, El Mirador, Guatemala

More historical information:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Mirador


Check my book or eBook at Amazon:

THE MAYA SITES
          – HIDDEN TREASURES OF THE RAIN FOREST

>>> Get it at Amazon >>> The Maya Sites - Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest
>>> Get it at Amazon >>> The Maya Sites – Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest
El Mirador – Pyramids hidden in the Jungle – Guatemala Adventure was last modified: September 9th, 2017 by Christian Schoen
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Further reading:


Check my book or eBook at Amazon:

THE MAYA SITES - HIDDEN TREASURES OF THE RAIN FOREST

>>> Get it at Amazon >>> The Maya Sites - Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest
>>> Get it at Amazon >>> The Maya Sites - Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest

3 thoughts on “El Mirador – Pyramids hidden in the Jungle – Guatemala Adventure”

  1. Very cool information you’ve compiled here on ancient Mayan pyramids Christian. I wanted to drop by and check out your site it looked very interesting and proved to be.

    I can’t imagine having to deal with the mosquitoes in that place, I get eaten alive just here in town, I shudder to think what they’d do to me if I went there. Although it would be fascinating to visit and check out the culture and ruins.

    Have you been to El Mirador yourself? If so I bet it was an awesome experience, I bet the locals have some amazing stories to tell. Thanks for an interesting read!

    Best Regards,
    Robert Tuttle

  2. Hi Robert,

    thanks for visiting my site and your nice comment. Yes, I was there in El Mirador in 2008. Mosquitos everywhere :-) but not only.

    If somebody is interested in insects he might find the jungle of Guatemala an amazing place. Or any other jungle. I never saw so many different and sometimes really huge insects as there.

    Not only that bugs get bigger than in the northern countries. Awesome are the big butterflies everywhere. Sometimes of the size of my hand, with wonderful colors.

    Best regards,
    Christian

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