El Mirador – Guatemala
For an adventurer looking for an Indiana Jones style discovery, look no further than the Mayan gem hidden under the jungle, El Mirador. Often referred to as ‘the cradle of Maya civilisation’, the lost ruins were only discovered from the air in 1926, by pilots who mistook the immense pyramids for volcanoes. Constructed originally over 2,000 years ago, El Mirador was one of the key cities of the iconic Mayan civilisation, who were one of the world’s foundational inhabitants. Still being uncovered, the ancient site inhabits a unique ecosystem that contains 5 different types of tropical rainforest, with over 300 tree species and upwards of 200 animal species. The ruins are home to numerous pyramids and statues atypical of the Mayan people. However, the majority of the ruins remain buried beneath the Guatemalan rainforest, giving you a truly moving experience as you can perceive and appreciate the ancient ruins buried by time far from the tourist track.
Where is it?
Situated in the north of the El Peten district of Guatemala, which itself is the most northern region of Guatemala. El Peten is renowned for its numerous Mayan sites, of which El Mirador is one of the largest and the most undiscovered.
What is it?
One of the oldest Mayan sites in existence, the ancient ruins are still in the process of being excavated. Many of the largest pyramids, such as El Tigre and La Danta, are visible though thanks to their sheer enormity.
Best time to visit?
The tropical rainforests of Peten are almost always hot and humid, as is much of the Central American belt. November to March give the most enjoyable conditions with the lowest average temperatures, around 26 degrees, unlike the scorching and humid summer highs of 32.
The huge Danta pyramid, which stands at a staggering 72 metres, is the largest ever constructed by the hands of the Mayans and is now believed to be the largest pyramid in the world when measured by volume. The pyramid tells the story of the whole site, as it barely peeks above the thick jungle rainforest which threatened to conceal it forever.