You might be wondering what one of the world's largest Mayan Ruin sites has to do with adventure. Well, if five days of backpacking and camping in the Central American jungle is your idea of a walk in the park, we may just have underestimated you. Welcome to El Mirador, countless sq. km of archaeological wonder snugly nestled near Guatemala's Mexican border in the heart of El Peten. Surrounded by miles upon miles of lush, tropical vegetation, you'd have no idea that this massive city once housed roughly 100,000 inhabitants somewhere between 300 BCE and 100 CE. Nowadays, just about all of its Preclassic structures (there are literally thousands of them, with some like La Danta towering as high as 70 meters!) are barely visible beneath the thick jungle canopy, so a little imagination is necessary in order to grasp just how gargantuan the place actually is.
The hike to El Mirador can be arranged via licensed INGUAT tour guides either online or in Flores, however you'll save some money and do well by the local populace if you Spanish speakers opt to deal directly with the villagers in Carmelita. Be smart and book the trek during the dry season (ideally mid-Feb - April), otherwise you and your donkey will be schlepping through an inordinate amount of mud and cursing the day you stumbled upon this Embark write-up. You can also fly in via helicopter if you're really pressed for time, but where's the fun in that? Now get out there and experience another one of Guatemala's truly incredible, often under-appreciated treasures.