Peten Itza, Guatemala

Also known as:  Lago Peten Itza, Lake Peten Itza

Peten Itza is the destination tropical rain forest dreams are made of! Located in the northern region of Peten, the lake covers more than 24,400 acres. Historically, Lago Peten Itza lies within the Mayan Biosphere Reserve and is steeped in the romantic mystery of these ancient people. Descendents of the Maya – the Itza – still live around Peten Itza with a very few still speaking a nearly extinct Mayan – READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Peten Itza! Article topics include:

Looking for Peten Itza cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Peten Itza! Article topics include:

Looking for Peten Itza cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore more of our favorite travel partners.

All About Peten Itza

Lake Locations: Guatemala -

Peten Itza is the destination tropical rain forest dreams are made of! Located in the northern region of Peten, the lake covers more than 24,400 acres. Historically, Lago Peten Itza lies within the Mayan Biosphere Reserve and is steeped in the romantic mystery of these ancient people. Descendents of the Maya – the Itza – still live around Peten Itza with a very few still speaking a nearly extinct Mayan dialect. Much of the area around the lake is jungle. The municipal center of the Peten District is actually on an island at the south end of the lake. Connected by a causeway to the shore, the city of Flores is tourist-friendly, modern in a rustic sort of way, and very picturesque.

Peten Itza isn’t a lake with many huge modern resort hotels, although a few four-star hotels do exist. It isn’t known for fishing, although what the locals call ‘white fish’ (actually petenia splendida-a member of the perch family) is abundant in the lake and often served locally. It isn’t even known for serious boating, but one of the favorite activities on the lake is to rent a small covered boat and operator to view the shoreline and travel to other villages. There are plenty of beaches for swimming and small shops for purchasing local handcrafted items such as textiles and wood carving. Several very comfortable hotels and a number of guest houses provide lodgings, and there is an assortment of local restaurants and internet cafes to provide for visitors’ needs.

The biggest draws to Peten Itza are the sites near the lake. Near Flores along the shoreline is a new Animal Rescue Center and Environmental Education facility funded by the Disney Corporation and the Oakland Zoo. The ARCAS Rescue Center rescues rainforest animals and birds that are injured or ill and releases them back into the wild after recovery. Those that are unable to be released remain at the ARCAS Environmental Education and Interpretation Center, Kinkajou Kingdom, where they can be viewed by visitors. The purpose of the entire complex is to further environmental education efforts and help to protect the surrounding rain forest. Some of the animals and birds living permanently at the Center are parrots, macaws, chachalacas, kinkajous, raccoons, spider monkeys, margays and coatimundis. The ARCAS Center is a 10-minute boat ride from Flores and right next to the Petencito Zoo, which also has an extensive collection of native animals. The forests bordering the lake are a wildlife paradise, with more than 100 important indigenous species such as the red snook fish, crocodiles, jaguars, pumas, white-tailed deer, red brocket, and several bird species, including parrots, toucans, and macaws. On the lake’s northeast shore is the Cerro Cahui Protected Biotope, a natural reserve for butterflies and birds. The 1,600-acre Biotope is home to toucans, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, and other rain forest species.

The majority of visitors who arrive at Peten Itza use the town of Flores as their base for visiting the Tikal National Park. The Park holds one of the most fascinating and extensive Mayan sites in Guatemala. Although more structures are excavated here than any other site in the Americas, there is much yet to discover and excavations are on-going. Ten square miles of structures have been uncovered so far, and there are many more yet to be exposed. Tours to Tikal can be arranged at Flores, but visitors should be prepared for a great deal of walking once they get there. It is suggested that visitors pick up a guide book before going to Tikal so they can identify the structures they are looking at. Tikal has been declared by UNESCO as both a Natural & World Cultural Heritage site.

Museo Ceramico, near the park entrance, has fascinating archaeological exhibits, including a skeleton with ornate jade jewelry in a reproduction of a burial vault, stelae (stone monuments), shells, ceramics, inscribed bones and other items recovered from the excavations. Adventurous visitors will want to take advantage of the private canopy tours offered near the park entrance. With zip-line and harness, the intrepid adventurer can fly 20 feet above the ground on short sections of cable. The entire tour covers about three-quarters of a mile.

Another attraction near Peten Itza is Ixpanpajul Natural Park. Located in the opposite direction from Tikal, the park offers a Sky Way tour – hanging bridges and walkways that allow visitors to view the lush vegetation from above. The park also offers horseback riding and mountain biking (equipment is rented in the park ). In addition, there is a tropical bird observatory, a camping area, and a canopy tour.

After visitors have thoroughly explored the many sights and sounds of the local rain forest, it’s wise to take some time to explore Flores itself. The town has an interesting history extending to the ninth century. When the Spanish arrived in Guatemala, there was already a village at the site, a Mayan-Itza capital called Tayasal. The city was destroyed by the invaders in the 16th century and was vacant until the 18th century. Remains of the Mayan city and stelae can be seen along the lakeshore. Recently, divers retrieved a collection of intact ceramics from underwater near Flores, apparently abandoned when the water rose suddenly at some point in the past. The lake is over 500 feet deep, with parts of the north basin 165 feet below sea level.

Finding lodgings at Peten Itza is relatively easy if one makes reservations in advance. Hotels, guest houses and campsites are all well represented along the lakeshore. A growing number of resort-style hotels are being built, and tours arrive here regularly. Over 150,000 visitors come to Peten Itza each year. Real estate may be available in some of the smaller villages but will likely be hard to find as much of the area is now protected reserves. The Peten District and Peten Itza are probably the best places on earth to experience both the rainforest and its riches and the visible remnants of the Mayan culture. Bring the swim gear, the binoculars, camera, sturdy hiking boots and plenty of sun screen. You’ll leave with a greater appreciation for the lush rain forest and its flora and fauna. And you’ll no doubt want to come back!

Things to Do at Peten Itza

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish Species Found at Peten Itza

  • Perch
  • Snook

All About Peten Itza

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Peten Itza

The Peten Itza map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.


More Ways to Book a Peten Itza Vacation

While our interactive map above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME rental homes (with VRBO) and nearby hotels (with Booking.com), there might be times when you need to expand your search with a different type of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you might want to explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our full disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Peten Itza Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


More Sites to Book a Peten Itza Vacation

Our interactive lodging map shown above is perfect for comparing LAKENAME VRBO rental homes and nearby Booking.com hotels, there are times when you need to expand your search for different types of accommodation. Here are some other LAKNAME lodging partners you can explore:

Check TripAdvisor
Explore RV Rentals
Find a Campspot
View All Resources

Note: These are affiliate links and we may earn a small commission. Read our disclosure policy here.


Recommended Sites to Book a Peten Itza Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Peten Itza lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.
ALL TRAVEL RESOURCES

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 24,463 acres

Shoreline Length: 46 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 361 feet

Maximum Depth: 525 feet

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

More Peten Itza news from LakeLubbers.com

  • Advertise your vacation rental property or local business: DETAILS HERE
  • The Peten Itza forum has been discontinued: HERE’S WHY
  • New Peten Itza photos coming soon!
  • You’re invited to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!
  • Share this Peten Itza article with your fellow LakeLubbers:

Do you have a vacation rental property at Peten Itza? Coming in 2022, LakeLubbers will have an opportunity for you to showcase your listing and put it in front of thousands of lake lovers searching our site for homes, condos or townhomes to rent for their upcoming lake trip this season.

Please get in touch with our advertising team HERE and we’ll provide you more details on this upcoming advertising opportunity.

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Looking for the Peten Itza forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here.

We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook and Instagram!

Click here to advertise your Peten Itza vacation rental or local business.

The former Peten Itza forum is closed. Find out why here.

New Peten Itza photo gallery is coming soon.

Please share this article with your fellow lake lovers!

Spread the word! Share our Peten Itza article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Explore local Peten Itza vacation rentals and hotel accommodations using our interactive map. Clicking on listings below will allow you to compare nearby properties, best rates and availability for your dates.

Looking for the old Peten Itza forum group? Click Here

New Peten Itza photos coming soon!

Vacation Home Name

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  • 2 bedrooms
  • 2 bathrooms
  • hot tub
  • wifi