Sayaxché is the jumping off point to a number of nearby Mayan ruins, though it also has a reputation as fast becoming a narco-hideaway. The remote stretches of river still harbor some semblance of wildlife, though ongoing deforestation in these parts makes it feel somewhat less wild than other, better-preserved parts of Petén  department.
Sayaxché, on the southern shore of Río La Pasión, is the natural gateway for trips to the Mayan sites of Ceibal  and the archaeological wonders hidden amid the lagoons and forests of the Petexbatún Wildlife Refuge .
It is a rough-and-tumble kind of town and reports of shoot-outs in its streets are not uncommon, though security forces were reported to have gotten at least a partial hold on the situation in late 2006. Still, you may want to limit your time here to that required to cross the Río La Pasión on your way south to the Verapaces or to organize a trip to one of the nearby attractions.
In addition to serving as an important waterway for trade in Mayan times, the river and surrounding town nowadays serve as a transshipment point for the local cocaine cartels said to operate in this region. Although they don’t tend to get involved with tourists, it certainly adds to the remote lawless frontier atmosphere that seems to permeate this town.
While the Petexbatún region’s sites are impressive and the jungle scenery in these parts alluring, you may want to inquire with travel agencies in Flores  before heading out here. Robberies were reported for some time at Ceibal, though locals say the group responsible was caught some time ago, and there are no recent robberies to report.
If you have plenty of time to explore Petén, it might be worth visiting here. Otherwise, your time might be best spent exploring some equally beautiful but safer sites elsewhere. If it’s remote wilderness you seek, there are certainly other areas you can find to explore.
On the north bank of the river, before crossing on the ferry when coming from Flores, is Café del Río (tel. 6620-1742, all meals daily). With sweeping views from its perch above the river, it is a great choice for its location away from the considerably busier atmosphere on the other side.
Should you need to stay here, your best bet is Hotel Guayacán (tel. 7926-6111) on the southern bank of the river. It has decent rooms with wooden beds and tiled floors going for $17 d with fan on the first floor or $20 d with air-conditioning on the second floor. It also has a good restaurant with a terrace overlooking the Río La Pasión and main dishes costing about $5.
One block up the street and three blocks to the right is Hotel Petexbatún (tel. 7928-6166), where rooms with fan and TV cost $10 or $15 with private bath.
On the second street to the left as you come from the docks, El Botanero features a varied menu including shrimp, fish, chicken, and beef in addition to cocktails and has a pleasant atmosphere with decent music.
The paved, 62-kilometer road from Flores  to Sayaxché continues south all the way to Cobán . Minibuses from Flores leave every half hour between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m., with three daily Pinita buses leaving Flores at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 2:30 p.m.
A new bridge across the Río La Pasión has replaced the ferry. A number of boatmen are still on hand for trips down the river to [node:28343 link Ceibal or up the Arroyo Petexbatún to the other sites. Recommended is Lanchas Don Pedro (tel. 7928-6109), on the riverbank, run by the amiable Pedro Méndez. Don Julián Mariona, owner of Posada Caribe, can also help you with boat trips.
If you are going south, there are two daily minibuses to Cobán (3.5 hours) via Chisec at 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. You can also catch one of several minibuses to Raxrujá, leaving about every 90 minutes until 4 p.m. Several buses leave from there for Cobán and other Alta Verapaz destinations.