As a testament to the city’s preoccupation to astronomy, Uaxatún’s original Mayan name (Siaan K'aan) translates to, “Where the Sky Began”. Most full-day tours leave from Flores or Santa Elena and include information on local handicrafts, foods, and how the mission to preserve the ruins is interwoven with efforts to sustain the local community. Many tours combine a trip to Uaxatún with an excursion to Tikal National Park, as it’s possible to explore both sites in one day. Special tours are focused on birdwatching.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Uaxatún is ideal for history and archaeology buffs.
- Entrance fee is included if you visit Tikal National Park.
- Wear light clothes and shoes for hiking.
- Bring bottled water and insect repellent.
- For overnight travelers, camping is allowed and there are hotels in the village.
- There are restaurants and stores nearby.
How to Get There
Uaxatún is located in the Petén Region of Guatemala, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) north of Tikal and 55 miles (88 kilometers) from Santa Elena. The site can only be reached in 4WD vehicles or public buses leaving Santa Elena in the late afternoon; expect about 2-3 hours on the road.xa0 In the rainy season, the road may be impassable. Most visitors arrive as part of a tour.
When to Get There
The site is open daily from morning until evening. The climate in Flores is pleasant throughout the year, though it’s best to avoid the rainy season (May through October). Come to the city in the first two weeks of January to experience the Dance of the Chotona festival, a quirky fiesta featuring firecrackers, religious processions, a parade featuring giant dolls made of paper maché, men in drag, and lots of dancing.
Maya Stargazing Maya astronomy is one of the most accurate pre-telescope astronomies in the world, and was used in conjunction with the Mayan writing and numeral systems. Astronomical complexes are some of the ruins found in Uaxatún. These structures made it possible to observe astronomical bodies and events such as the rising and setting of stars and planets, and were used as a basis to align structures, plan cities, and help determine agricultural and ritual events.