Camping Among Ancient Temples

Maya Complex Camping

Camping within the bounds of a Maya temple complex is a rare and thrilling experience.

Your adventure begins with a series of private tours, led by guides whose ancestors constructed the very monuments you’re exploring.

You’ll dine by candlelight on cuisine that’s sustained this culture for millennia, as the setting sun brings a hush to the surrounding forest.

Tikal, Uaxactun, Yaxha, and Topoxte

Exotic scents—allspice, cedar, and copal incense—perfume the night air.

When the Milky Way appears, your guide will unlock the secrets of Maya cosmology.

After stargazing, retire to a comfortable tent cabin. You’ll wake at dawn to a chorus of howler monkeys and tropical birds.

After breakfast, your guide can help you explore ancient Maya sites: Uaxactun, Tikal, Yaxha, and Topoxte.

Temple E-VII-Sub: Oldest Continuously Occupied Maya Site

The ancient Maya city of Uaxactun (pronounced “wah-shock-tune“) is one of the oldest continuously occupied Maya sites in all of history.

It’s also the location of the oldest ancient pyramid in the Maya World.

The foundations of temple E-VII-Sub date back 4,000 years—beautifully preserved by the overlay of later structures.

The temple’s sides are adorned with eighteen huge masks, representing a pantheon that includes jaguar gods and sky-serpents.

The structure’s sacred geometry is oriented to the heavens, predicting solstices and equinoxes.

Uaxactun: “Eight Stones”

The name Uaxactun translates to “eight stones“—possibly in reference to its two central hills, each featuring four individual mounds.

This site includes numerous temples, plazas, and tombs.

Ancient Maya Art

Art produced here—ceramics and stone carving—is among the finest of the ancient Maya World.

The earliest examples of the use of the zero placeholders in Maya culture can be found on Uaxactun’s Stelae 18 and 19.

Tikal and Uaxactun: Rivals to Allies

Uaxactun is located twelve miles—forty minutes or fourteen miles by road—north of the Maya metropolis of Tikal.

The cities were rivals until Tikal subdued Uaxactun in 378 AD under the leadership of the powerful ruler Siyah K’ak’ (“Fire is Born“).

A Tikal / Uaxactun alliance went on to dominate the Petén region for the next 180 years.

For more than a century, the inheritors of Uaxactun have sustainably harvested chicle sap—the natural base for chewing gum.

This is the only community permitted to occupy this area’s 10,000+ square miles of protected forest.

Observe Local Traditions and Meet Handcraft Artisans

Locals also raise xate palm and other ornamental plants. Visitors to Uaxactun can observe the chicle harvesting process, learn local traditions, and meet with handcraft artisans.

The tent camp is situated within the E Complex of the ancient city.

Hot showers and modern bathroom facilities are provided.

Most of our guests spend two nights at Uaxactun, exploring Tikal on the second day. Sunrise and sunset visits to Tikal can be arranged.

Daily flights connect Guatemala City to the Petén’s primary airport in Flores, with flight times of one hour and ten minutes.

The drive from the airport to Uaxactun typically lasts an hour and forty minutes. Uaxactun can also be visited from the Cayo District of Belize.

If you’re considering three nights here, you could visit the other Maya sites, zip-line through the forest canopy, ride horses or hike forest trails with an expert birding guide. Contact LANDED at 801.582.2100 for more information.

“Better far off to leave half the ruins and nine-tenths of the churches unseen and to see well the rest; to see them not once, but again and often again; to watch them, to learn them, to live with them, to love them, till they have become a part of life and life’s recollections.”

Margot Fonteyn