Central America, Featured, Guatemala

My 5-Day Trek Through the Mayan Ruins of El Mirador Guatemala

October 27, 2015
El Mirador Guatemala Central America

Around the World with Justin
Guatemala is home to the largest Mayan pyramid in the world as well as the largest group of Mayan buildings of any site. Located deep in the northern jungle of the Petén region, getting to the former civilization known as El Mirador Guatemala offers an unforgettable 5-day trek through ancient Mayan ruins.

El Mirador Guatemala trek Central America aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek La Danta pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek La Danta pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Around the World with Justin
When I booked my ticket to Guatemala, El Mirador was number 1 on my to do list! What I didn’t realize was how difficult it would be to plan the actual adventure. While traveling around the country in Guatemala City, Antigua and Lake Atitlán I kept asking locals and travel agencies for more info about El Mirador Guatemala and everyone kept giving me the same answer – go to the small town of Flores to figure it out.

Fun FactEl Mirador translates to “The Lookout” and was given its name because of its great views from the pyramids.

A little nervous that I might miss a tour group I did more digging, found a company called Reino Kan Travel and emailed its owner Oscar Salas (racsosalas@hotmail.com). Oscar replied with basic info about the trip and a problem – at the time, no one else was signed up to go! More determined than ever to make this trek happen, I arrived in Flores the next day via bus to Guatemala City and then a short flight to Flores.

El Mirador Guatemala trek La Danta pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek Central America aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Travel TipEmail Oscar! He’ll help connect you with a group or recruit others. You can also try to reach out directly to the Cooperativa that employs the authorized guides.

Once I was in Flores I headed over to Reino Kan Travel to figure everything out. I found out that I needed at least one other person to join me and the more hikers on the trip, the less it would cost per person. Needless to say, I WAS ON A MISSION and within two days after arriving in Flores, I successfully recruited a group of ELEVEN strangers to hike together to El Mirador Guatemala – definitely one of the best travel accomplishments of my life!

El Mirador Guatemala Central America

Around the World with Justin
The 5-Day Trek to El Mirador Guatemala (120 km)

DAY 1: FLORES – CARMELITA – EL TINTAL
Amped with excitement that El Mirador Guatemala was actually happening, I barely slept the night before. At 5:00am our group met up and boarded a colectivo from Flores to a small village called Carmelita. After filling up on a home cooked breakfast, we began our hike toward El Tintal, a Mayan “suburb” of El Mirador Guatemala.

El Mirador Guatemala trek Carmelita aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek Carmelita aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
For the most part the hike was pretty flat and as we made our way through the jungle everyone spent time getting to know one another. I was the only American in the group and became the de facto leader of our tribe (wait this isn’t “Survivor,” I mean group…). After about 6 hours of hiking, we arrived at El Tintal and enjoyed a beautiful sunset on top of the ruin.

El Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

DAY 2: EL TINTAL – EL MIRADOR
Waking up after sunrise, we ate breakfast and began our hike to El Mirador. The terrain was pretty similar to the first day – a flat jungle, hard muddy path. On the way we stopped to explore a small archeological site called La Muerta and actually went inside the ruins.

El Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
We continued on and after about 8 hours total, we arrived to our campsite just outside of El Mirador. Here we relaxed, ate and played games like “Mafia” which we renamed “Mayan” with new characters – Mayans (Mafia), Shaman (Doctor), Archeologist (Detective) and Civilians (Townspeople).

El Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

DAY 3: EL MIRADOR
We spent the entire day exploring the Mayan ruins in El Mirador Guatemala. I was immediately surprised how most sites had not been fully excavated including the largest Mayan pyramid in the world known as La Danta.

El Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek La Danta pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
One look at La Danta, I would never have guessed it measures 70m tall with a total volume of 2.8 million cubic meters. A majority of this massive structure has been reclaimed by the jungle and is still buried.

El Mirador Guatemala trek La Danta pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
El Mirador Guatemala La Danta Pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala La Danta Pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
After three days of hiking, we made it! The views from the top of La Danta were incredibly worth it.

El Mirador Guatemala La Danta Pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala La Danta Pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala Justin Walter aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala La Danta Pyramid aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
We also checked out El Tigre measuring 55m tall. El Tigre, La Danta and a number of other temples display “triadic” styles with three pyramids on top of large platforms.

El Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
As we continued to explore El Mirador Guatemala, it was crazy to learn that for centuries this settlement flourished as the greatest Preclassic Mayan city and present day it has so much more excavating to go.

El Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

DAY 4: EL MIRADOR – EL TINTAL
The hike out of El Mirador Guatemala can be described as déjà vu since we hiked back on the same path. Even though the views and scenery stayed the same, it was still fun trekking through the jungle.

El Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

DAY 5: EL TINTAL – CARMELITA – FLORES
On the last day we made a pit stop at a site called La Florida before heading back to Carmelita.

El Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek mayan ruins aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
As we ended our 5-day trek, I couldn’t help but feel like Jack from “Lost” exiting the jungle with new friends. It was here where we sadly had to say goodbye to our amazing guide Adrian, his wife and our cook Tia Nettie and their nephew and helper Elmer.

El Mirador Guatemala trek Carmelita aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek Carmelita aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek Carmelita aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Around the World with Justin
During our hike we stayed in tents at two designated campsites. Here’s a more detailed look at the costs:
2 people – $480 USD each / 3 people – $390 / 4 people – $350 / 5 people – $320 / 6 or more – $280
Includes:El Mirador Guatemala trek map aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

  • Four nights camping accommodation (camping gear and blankets)
  • 
Meals for the entire trip (4 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners and purified water)
  • 
Authorized guide, cook and muleteer responsible for mules that carry food

Does not include:

  • Food that is not on the menu such as alcoholic beverages
  • Mounted mules for riding
  • 
English guide or any other language ($200 USD extra)

El Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.comEl Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.com
Before and after the hike, I stayed at Los Amigos in Flores. This hostel is a hot spot for younger backpackers, has a welcoming outdoor common space and a hopping bar upstairs at night.

El Mirador Guatemala trek aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Around the World with Justin
El Mirador Guatemala is rich with history and hiking, but when I think of my experience a phrase comes to mind that we constantly shouted throughout our trek… “¡Nuestra Familia!” Starting off as a group of 11 strangers – who took a risk on my sales pitch to actually join the trip – we became a family. El Mirador stripped away our daily luxuries and bonded us with our common love for adventure. It gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most incredible travelers who I’m lucky enough to have as friends.

El Mirador Guatemala trek Carmelita aroundtheworldwithjustin.com

Psst – did you find this post informative? Useful? Inspiring? Save it for later on Pinterest!

Thinking of hiking El Mirador in Guatemala? Here's your ultimate guide to the 5-day trek through ancient Mayan ruins.

You Might Also Like

19 Comments

  • Reply Morgan October 27, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Wow looks so magical and my soul is screaming to travel just looking at the pics. Take me with you 😉

  • Reply Eve December 7, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Fantastic photos, good job! It has been several years since I use my jet lag prevention, I guess I have a new travel destination. Thanks to you.

  • Reply Anders Jakobsen May 4, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Justin,

    It looks like an beautiful trip. A quick question regarding the price of the trip. I assume from the pictures that you were going with 10 people, ish. So you each paid 280 USD or do I misunderstand the price regulations?

    Best Regards
    Anders

    • Reply Justin Walter May 5, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Thank you Anders! To answer your question – yes, I was in a group of over 10 people. I actually walked around hostels and recruited people to go! The more people that go the lower the price per person. I would contact Oscar Salas (racsosalas@hotmail.com) for more pricing info. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      • Reply Anders Jakobsen May 8, 2016 at 7:27 pm

        I might have to do the same. We are two friends travelling together but 480 is a bit to pricey. Did you spend much time on recruiting and could you easily decide which day you wanted to go? It’s cause we might be on a little tight schedule 🙂 Could you think of any other way to recruit people before getting there, any forums you know of?

        And thanks for your reply!

        • Reply Anders Jakobsen May 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm

          And one more thing, Oscar is asking for 50% in deposit ahead. I like to trust all persons, but I’m still typically a skeptical person, how would it wrong with transfer ahead?

          • Justin Walter May 9, 2016 at 11:02 am

            Oscar’s business “Reino Kan Travel” has been organizing trips to El Mirador for years. Feel free to look up reviews on Trip Advisor as well (that’s how I found him). From my experience, he is a reputable businessman. I would ask about the terms of the deposit – is it non-refundable? If you’re able to lower the cost per person by recruiting more people will the original 50% deposit go towards the overall lower cost? Let me know if you have any other questions, happy to help and excited for you!

        • Reply Justin Walter May 9, 2016 at 10:59 am

          If you want to recruit a few more people I would recommend reaching out to the hostels in Flores to put up signs that there is going to be a trip to El Mirador with the dates. I was in Flores a few days before my trip so I had about a day or so to talk to people and convince them to join the group. Luckily I was able to meet a bunch of people with flexible travel schedules that were interested. There’s a Facebook group called “South / Central America Backpacker / Traveling” that you should join. Post in there that you and your friend are traveling to Guatemala and looking for others to join an El Mirador trip. Let me know if this helps!

          • Anders Jakobsen May 10, 2016 at 4:17 pm

            We are so lucky that there are already four person signed up for the same trip as we wanna go, so that could’t get any better! So we already get it to det cheapest rate and necessarily don’t have to recruit more people.
            Tho I’ll still ask how the deposit is gonna work.

            Thanks so much for your time and advise, I’ll get back to you if I have any further Q.

            And thanks for the facebook group.
            Safe travels.

  • Reply Jennifer June 19, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Hi Justin
    Your trip sounds great. I was wondering how strenuous the hike was and if you were exhausted afterwards? What did you do after the hike? Did you need a few days to relax and recoup? If so where? Are there any hot springs or anything to sooth?

    Also, did you happen to go to Semuc Champey or Rio Dulce? Debating on if I should fly from to Antigua or take bus down to stop at Semuc Champey?

    Thanks again

    Jennifer

    • Reply Justin Walter June 21, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks Jennifer! I would say that the hike is not extremely strenuous. It’s definitely a good workout, but flat for a majority of the time so make sure to have a good pair of hiking shoes. After the hike I actually headed to Caye Caulker, Belize which I blogged about. It was exactly the tropical R&R I needed after the hike. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to get to Semuc Champey since it was so far away, but if you have the time a lot of people I met loved it. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  • Reply briarne March 22, 2017 at 5:36 am

    This was my guide when I did it 5 years ago! Wow! great to see he is still in action…

    • Reply Justin Walter March 27, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      No way, that’s awesome! Hope you had a great trip Briarne!

  • Reply How I Became a Solo Traveler in the Australian OutbackAround the World with Justin May 12, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    […] Peru, camping Patagonia in Chile, ice trekking on Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, discovering Mayan Ruins in Guatemala and even island hopping in Borneo (where Survivor filmed season 1) to name a few of my solo […]

  • Reply robert leroy August 17, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    do you think i can go with a bicycle there?

    • Reply Justin Walter September 13, 2017 at 2:11 am

      Hmmm you have to go with a guide, so you can ask the tour company. My guess is no? The path is very muddy and rocky so might be a tough bike ride.

  • Reply Sharon October 9, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Hi,
    Where did you hiked the El mirador? Which month?
    Thanks ;))

    • Reply Sharon October 9, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      *when………………

    • Reply Justin Walter October 12, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      I hiked it in May! We had great weather during the trip. Let me know if have any other questions.

    Leave a Reply