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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in flores (guatemala)
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The city of Flores on Lago Petén Itzá
Flores is a small city in Petén, Guatemala. It is located on an island in the lake Lago Petén Itzá, connected to land by a causeway. On the other side of the causeway lie the twin cities Santa Elena and San Benito. For many, the main reason to visit Flores is its proximity to Tikal, the most famous Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Flores is also the natural starting point for other tours of the Petén.
Flores is a quiet and peaceful place, and probably one of the safest places in the at times wild north. In nearby Santa Elena you have to be more cautious, and you should stay away from San Benito.
There is an international airport just outside Flores with flights from Guatemala City, Cancun and Belize City... The flights between Flores and Guatemala City are often delayed (both ways). Flights are with Tikal Jets, TAG and TACA. Tropic Air and Maya Island Air fly to and from Belize.
Continental Airlines provide twice weekly flights to and from Houston, TX.
A taxi from the airport to Flores costs Q20 (or Q10 per person if that gives the driver more money). It is about two kilometers from the airport to the Flores causeway.
Shuttles to Tikal meet every flight.
Buses from Guatemala City and Belize City stop in Calle Principal, Santa Elena, a five minutes walk from the causeway to Flores.
You can go by car from Guatemala City and from Belize City.
Linea Dorada also stops and starts luxury class buses from its Flores office. Vans to Tikal also meet these on arrival.
Inside Flores you usually just walk. Walking around the island takes about 15 minutes. To visit Santa Elena or San Benito you can walk, take a taxi or hop a van or bus.
The towns San José and San Andrés on the shores of the lake to the north can be reached by hiring a boat. But with the the improved road, there are no longer regular passenger boats and you can more easily take regular vans or buses there from the Santa Elena market.
The boats can also take you to Petencito Zoo or just for a tour of the lake. You find the boats behind Hotel Santana. The boatmen usually overcharge you, so be sure to negotiate before accepting their price.
Ak'tun Kan: The face of the Lacandón
- Ak'tun Kan, la cueva de la serpiente (the cave of the serpent). Take the main road through Santa Elena and turn left at the end of the road and just follow the signs, it is pretty well marked. It is a 30-minute walk from the causeway to Flores. Or you can take a taxi for Q20. Admission fee Q15 that includes a guide. Inside the cave you can see a lot of formations that resembles various objects, animals and people, and of course plain stalagmites and stalactites. Most of them are labeled (in Spanish) and the guide will also happily point them out.
- Petencito Zoo
- Motul de San José a small Mayan site just north of San José. You can get to San José by bus, minivan or hired boat. The ruin has a few stelae with visible glyphs and a number of vegetation covered mounds.
- Ixlú is a small Mayan site just by the Melchor de Mencos junction on the way to Tikal. Only of interest to the die-hard fans of Mayan sites.
- Tikal One of the main reasons for visiting Flores, Petén or even Guatemala. 60 km from Flores. The park is open from 06:00 to 18:00. If you arrive after 15:00 the ticket is valid the next day as well. Admission fee Q50. You are advised to be at the park when it opens to experience the rich wildlife and to avoid the crowds later in the day. See separate article.
- Holtún is a small archaeological site 60 km from Flores on the way to Melchor de Mencos and the Belizean border. You have to walk 15 minutes on a broad, but unmarked path to get to the site. Ask the locals to give you direction. The site contains some large temples mostly covered by trees and vegetation. Masks painted in color decorate the inside of one of the temples, but this part is unavailable to tourists (unless you can get a permit from the guard in charge). The part you can get to on your own also has masks, but it's not that impressive. Only for the dedicated fans of Maya sites.
From the top of the temple of East Acropolis you get a beautiful view of Lago de Yaxhá and surroundings
- Yaxhá is a archaeological site 73 km from Flores on the way to Melchor de Mencos and the Belizean border. 62 km from Flores, just after Holtún, you find the turn-off to Yaxhá, some 11 km along a dirt road. There is no admission fee, but you have to sign in the guest book. The site is not so frequently visited as Tikal, but its well worth the trip. You might be the only visitor, and that will give you a pretty different experience from wading through the often crowded Tikal. There are ongoing restoration works at the site.
- Topoxté is a small site on an island on the west shore of Lago de Yaxhá. You can reach it by lancha (boat), and it will cost you around Q100. The ride is only 15 minutes each way.
- Nakum is a site some 20 km north of Yaxhá. From there it is possible to reach Tikal in a days walk (but you need a guide).
- Cinema If you're in the mood for a movie, the cinema is a room with chairs and a roll-down screen, showing western movies. Located by the restaurant Las Puertas, on Calle Central.
- Canopy Tour Outside of Flores, there are places that offer adventure rides zipping down wires attached between trees, while hanging from a harness. One is outside the Tikal main gate, and is a canopy tour only; another is Ixanpajul, 5 minutes drive from Flores (US$5 by taxi), which has a canopy tour, a walking loop with suspension bridges, horse rides, and camping facilities.
- Chile salsa The locally produced ecological Salsa de chile habanero of the brand Guatemaya is really good. You can buy it at ECAO (Tel 926-0628) in Calle de 15 Septiembre or try it at the restaurant Las Puertas (you have to ask for it). Maya Ik is also an excellent salsa.
- Woodwork is the typical souvenir of Petén. The road to Tikal between Ixlú and El Remate is the best place to find finely crafted woodwork.
You can also get the other typical stuff in the shops in Flores, but the prices and selections are better elsewhere in Guatemala. Only worth checking out if this is your only stop in Guatemala.
You might find some wild animals on the menus in Petén. But beware, many of these are species hunted without license.
- La Luna, Calle 30 de Junio. Probably the best restaurant in Flores. In the high season (especially Easter and Christmas) it might be wise to order a table. Main dishes from Q40-90. Try pimientos rellenos (stuffed peppers), suprema de pollo (chicken), puyaso (steak) en salsa de crema y pimienta negra, or the vegetarian calebacitas (stuffed pumpkins). For desert there is vanilla ice-cream with moras calientes (a relative of raspberry). Highly recommended.
- Las Puertas, corner of Avenida Santa Ana and Calle Central. Great place for breakfast and lunch. Try the panone with homemade bread and your choice of chicken, ham, cheese, sausage, vegetarian. Also serves a variety of liquados (fruit smoothies). Shows films at 16 and 19. They also sell original chewing gum, as used by Mayas in the past, nice quirk. This is also a nice place to go for a drink in the evening. In addition to the usual selection of cocktails you can ask for your choice of liquado with rum. Live music. Highly recommended.
- Mayan Princess, Avenida Reforma. Open 12-22:30. Shows films at 16 and 20. Main dishes at Q40. Drinks Q10-20.
- El Tucán, Calle Centro América. The restaurant got its name after a tame toucan that belonged to the premises and that had a habit of stealing the guests vegetables. The place lost some of that charm when the toucan flew away in the spring of 2004. Serves Mexican food. Also offers wild game (hunted illegally).
- El Zotz, Calle 15 de Septiembre. Typical place for breakfast and lunch.
- La Albahaca, Calle 30 de Junio. Serves salads, pasta and shrimps.
- Las Orquideas, El Remate - on the lakefront road about 1km past La Casa de Don David. Top-quality homestyle Italian food in a quiet palapa-hut setting.
- Restaurant Mirador del Lago up on the square serves good, inexpensive food.
In Calle 30 de Junio opposite of Hotel Petén there's a supermarket that is open day and night, and opposite of La Luna in Calle 30 de Junio there's a grocery store.
- Casazul, Calle Fraternidad. Tel 7926-1138/7926-3360. firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.corpetur.com. USD 41/48/60 for single/double/triple room in high season. Spacious rooms with TV, fan, noisy AC and refrigerator. Great view of the sunset/sunrise over the lake.
- Hotel la casona de la isla, Calle 30 de Junio. Tel 7926-0593, email@example.com, http://www.corpetur.com. USD 36/43/53 for single/double/triple room. Restaurant, pool, AC.
- Hotel Isla de Flores, Avenida Reforma, Tel 7926-0614/17/18, 7476-8775, firstname.lastname@example.org. USD 36/41/46 for single/double/triple room.
- Hotel Mirador del Lago, Calle 15 de Septembre, with a view of the Peten Itza lake. Double room $10USD, with the lake view $13USD. The rooms are clean, have hot water and provide a fan. There is a travel agent right across the street with whom you can arrange all the trips and tours. Recommended.
- Hotel Petén, Calle 30 de Junio. Tel 7926-0692, email@example.com, http://www.corpetur.com. USD 35/43/52 for single/double/triple room. Rooms are comfortable, some with a nice view to the west over the lake, with a tv, and a jug of filtered water.
- Hotel Santana, Calle 30 de Junio. Tel 7926-0662/0491/0492. USD 31/40/55 for single/double/triple room.
- Hospedaje Doña Goya, Calle la Union. Tel 7926-3538. Q100/80 for a double with private/shared bath. Q25 for dormitory.
- Hotel Villa Maya, 10 km outside of Flores, on the way to Tikal. A quiet place by Laguna Petenchel. Pool and restaurant, kayak and bike rental. There are crocodiles in the laguna, so bathing is safest in the pool. There are various paths in the area, from a 10-minute stroll on the premises to one hour around the laguna. Expensive, but recommended.
- Petén Esplendido, just by the causeway to Flores. Expensive (and not worth the price).
El Remate, little village 30 km on the road around Lago Petén Itzá. Nice, calm and rural atmosphere, normally less crowed. Take any minibus from St. elena to tikal ($US1), or step in a big bus (US$0.3) and ask - they might leave you on a crossing 7 km far from El Remate. Taxi is US$20 from airport/Flores.
- La Casa de Don David, Tel 7928-8469 or 5306-2190, http://www.lacasadedondavid.com; no longer only place for internet in El remate (15 minutes cost US$1, or 1 minute US$0.1); others exist on the main road. Best rooms have a/c, hot water and are recently constructed. Property is clean, tidy and well maintained with very friendly staff, who can help with all kinds of activities and/or transportation. Free filtered water for guests.
- La Casa de Dona Tonita, calm and inexpensive family-driven hostel with own dock in the lake and restaurant, 1 1/2 km from El Remate, on the road around Lago Petén Itzá, doble room $US3 p.person
- El Gringo Perdido, 3 km from El Remate, on the road around Lago Petén Itzá, Tel 5334-2305.
- Hotel Camino Real Tikal, 5 km from the road to Tikal (leave the main road at El Remate). Tel 7926-0207. Luxury hotel surrounded by beautiful nature. The food at the restaurant is a bit boring. The Biotopo Cerro Cahuí is close by and worth a visit. Expensive.
- Tikal.net, Calle Centro America. 08:00-22:00. Q12/hour. Offers service of burning images from digital cameras to cd.
- Peten.net, Calle Centro America. 08:00-22:00. Q12/hour. Offers service of burning images from digital cameras to cd.
- Tayazal.net 08:00-22:00. Q12/hour.
- Martsam travel, Calle Centro América, Tel 926-3225/0346/0247, firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily tours to Yaxhá, USD 20 per person (2 persons minimum). Also tours to Nakum, Tikal, Ceibal, El Mirador, El Zotz. "Jungle at night" tour every day at 19:00 (3 hours USD 30 p.p.) and jungle trek every day at 07:00, USD 40 p.p.
- Conservation Tours Tikal, Calle 15 de Septiembre (inside Hotel Mirador del Lago), Tel 926-0670, 592-9509, email@example.com, http://www.conservationtours.com. Sustainable tourism in the communities surrounding Tikal National Park. Wildlife, horseback, kayak, ruins (Tikal, Uaxactun, El Zotz), community visits and more.
- Tikal tours, Tel 926-4796/691-0268
- Servitours Lago Azul, Callejón San Luis Sur, Tel 926-3573/514-10, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Private plane for flying over Tikal and the other interesting sites in Petén tel. 926-0929, 818-8777, 616-6450.