An unforgettable trip to the Mayan ruins of El Mirador

Jurg Widmer Probst - El Mirador - Mayan ruins

It is hard to believe that a place like El Mirador really exists. Of course, there are other remote Maya ruins in Guatemala – Tikal for one – but nothing quite like El Mirador.

If the set designers for an Indiana Jones film had shown sketches of it, they would probably have been dismissed as being too fantastical.


Getting to El Mirador

A big part of its magic comes from its utter remoteness. If you are planning to visit this ancient Maya city, then you are looking at either a tough seven day hike through the jungle, or a breathtaking helicopter ride there (if you can afford it). Whatever option you choose, visiting and spending time at this incredible Mesoamerican site is well worth the effort.

Either way, you are in for a remarkable experience. The trek is exhausting, but exhilarating. Getting to El Mirador on foot gives you that incredible sense of awe that the Maya people must have felt for this place.

And of course, the jungle itself is an unforgettable place too. You’ll walk for most of the day, often along some of the ancient Mayan roads themselves – many of which are over two thousand years old. It is an incredible way to approach El Mirador.

The helicopter option is also pretty spectacular, not least because it gives you a sense of how isolated the ruins really are. The jungle passes under you for miles, until you see the top of the pyramid rising up out of the depths. It’s truly awesome.


A truly magical place

However long you take to get there, nothing will prepare you for El Mirador. Meaning ‘the lookout’, it includes largest pyramid in the Mayan world and beautiful stone carvings.

The complex at El Mirador was once the capital of the region, and the richness of the architecture certainly reflects its significance. It is connected by ancient road to other important sites in the area such as Los Cruces and Los Faisanes.

Exploring the site is an unforgettable experience, and it is also well worth making the last push and climbing to the top of the stepped pyramid itself.

It’s fresher, and a little bit cooler up there, out of the jungle – and you have the sensation of being shipwrecked on a lonely island in an endless sea of green.


You can find more details of treks in the area here.

Jürg Widmer Probst

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