Al Argueta

Planning Your Time in El Oriente and Izabal

The Izabal region features a unique kind of Caribbean experience not at all like Cancún or the West Indies but nonetheless beautiful. Meanwhile in El Oriente, Copán showcases some of the Mayan world’s finest ruins and the surrounding mountainous countryside is becoming increasingly popular with travelers exploring coffee farms, a jungle bird park, and hot springs.

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Balam: Jaguars in Guatemala

The Maya had great respect and reverence for the jaguar, which they called balam. Jaguars were a symbol of power and strength and were believed to act as mediums for communication between the living and the dead. Scientists have been studying jaguars in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, but luckily, you don’t need to go traipsing through the jungle to see one: Guatemala City’s excellent zoo has jaguars, as does Petén’s ARCAS wildlife rescue center.

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Lost and Found: The Mystery of Guatemala’s Site Q

For much of the 20th century, looters worked Petén’s remote sites undisturbed, raiding tombs and extracting precious artifacts before archaeologists had a chance to study and document them. At the height of the looting, in the 1960s, archaeologists marveled at a series of magnificent glyphs making their way into a number of private collections and museums from an unknown site. Archaeologists dubbed the pieces’ origin “Site Q” and the search to find the mysterious producer of the wonderful glyphs was on.

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Outdoor Recreation in Lanquín, Guatemala

Lanquín and its caves are quickly becoming requisite stops for travelers making their way through Guatemala. Recreational opportunities abound, and you may find yourself spending more time here than you had originally planned. Whether it’s exploring caves, white-water rafting, river tubing, or swimming that suits your fancy, you’ll find plenty to see and do in these parts.

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Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station

Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station sits amid verdant jungle on the shores of the Río San Pedro, a 20-minute boat ride from the village of Paso Caballos. It is one of the best places in Petén to combine wildlife-viewing and rainforest trekking while staying in relative comfort, offering easy access to the ruins of Waka’ and the surrounding forests.

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Laguna Lachuá National Park, Guatemala

Laguna Lachuá National Park, an almost perfectly circular turquoise lagoon, is its own ecological island, like a square patch of forest floating on a surrounding sea of deforestation. Here you can enjoy the refreshing waters and the dense forest all around in an atmosphere of utter tranquility.

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Exploring Río Tatín in Río Dulce National Park

One of Guatemala’s oldest parks, the waterway connecting the Caribbean Sea with Lake Izabal is protected as Río Dulce National Park. Along Río Tatín, you’ll find some excellent accommodations built into the surrounding jungle and in complete harmony with their environment. It showcases the region’s wonderful seclusion while at the same time providing a comfortable base from which to explore the area.

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Moon Guides Author Spotlight

Moon author Jason Frye

Jason Frye (Moon Great Smoky Mountain National Park)

Raised deep in the mountains of West Virginia, Jason Frye first fell in love with North Carolina as a kid during family vacations to the Outer Banks. In 2002, he swapped his mountains for sand dunes and his river for an ocean when he moved to Wilmington to pursue a master of fine arts in creative writing. There, his love for North Carolina deepened into a longing to stay, settle, explore, and be a part of the people, culture, and history of the state.

Along with his wife, Lauren, Jason has kayaked the marshes and waterways near his home; hang glided off the Outer Banks; explored the cityscapes of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem; and wandered the woods and wilds around Asheville.

A member of the Society of American Travel Writers, Jason has contributed stories to VisitNC.com, AAA’s Go Magazine, Our State magazine, Southern Living, Salt, the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer, and acts as a culinary critic for the Wilmington StarNews.

Keep up with Jason on Instagram @beardedwriter.