El Mirador: The Cradle of Mayan Civilization
Often when you hear about the great pyramids of the world you think about the Egyptian pyramids or perhaps the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico. But did you know that Guatemala is actually home to the largest pyramid in the world?
The Mirador, known to many as the cradle of Mayan Civilization, is located in the dense jungles of northern Guatemala. El Mirador is one of several large ancient cities that resides in the Mirador Basin, which is a vast expanse of virgin rain forest. El Mirador is comprised of miles of unrestored pyramids and structures that have seemingly became part of the jungle. The area, 38 square miles in size, has been seemingly untouched by man for thousands of years.The Mirador, known to many as the cradle of Mayan civilization, is located in the dense jungles of northern Guatemala. El Mirador is one of several large ancient cities that resides in the Mirador Basin, which is a vast expanse of virgin rain forest. El Mirador is comprised of miles of unrestored pyramids and structures that have seemingly became part of the jungle. The area, 38 square miles in size, has been seemingly untouched by man for thousands of years.
El Mirador originally functioned as trading center, and was in operation from 200 BC to 150 AD. At its peak, it was home to nearly 100,000 Mayans, which essentially designated it as the first American city. The vast ruins were unearthed in 1926, and other than some small excavations they have remained largely untouched. Occasionally there are some archaeologists working on the site, but the excavating that they are doing is typically minimal.
Pyramid of El Mirador is located in the Northern Petén region of Guatemala. It measures approximately 70 meters (230ft) tall from the forest floor and its total volume is 2,800,000 cubic meters.
The city is so vast that it can take days to explore, and so it is advisable to take the trip to El Mirador with the help of a guide. The main group of buildings in the city cover a massive two square kilometers, and features three pyramids, El Tigre, Los Monos, and La Danta. These three towering structures rise hundreds of feet into the sky, and each of them features an ancient temple at their apex. To give you some perspective, the base of the Danta is so vast that it would cover 35 football fields. La Danta is in fact the largest structure that has ever been built by the Mayans, and some consider it to be the largest pyramid in existence.
An additional feature of El Mirador are the intricate causeways, which link important structures within El Mirador and were critical entry points in and out of the city. The causeways are known as sacbeob, and raise 2-6 meters above the level of the landscape. They allowed for seamless travel between the structures and allowed for easy travel in and out of the city.
Due to the area being largely untouched by man, El Mirador is exceedingly difficult to get to. There are no roads that lead directly to the site, nor is there a river that would allow you to land nearby. There are really only two choices if you want to reach El Mirador. Mayan Gateway offers both of them:
1.) Embark on an adventure five day hike which is typically made with the assistance of a guide and mules or
2.) Join a helicopter tour which can fly you directly to the city.
It is advisable to take the journey with a tour so as to ensure your safety and to maximize your experience.
Helicopter Tour - 1 day
You would leave from the airport Mundo Maya and come back the same day. The entire tour lasts 4 hours. You would have around 3 hours to explore the site. It is possible to add 1 or 2 hours for an extra cost upon request.
-Certified and bilingual guide
-Transportation from and to the airport
Hike - 3 days & 2 nights
Day 1: You would be transferred from Flores Island to Carmeli
ta very early in the morning.
The hike to El Mirador lasts about 12 hours.
Day 2: You will have a few hours to rest and after have the rest
of the day to explore and
discover this beautiful historical site.
Day 3: Hike back to Carmelita (12 hours) and transferred to Fl
-Private transportation from Flores Island to Carmelita
-Food: 3 meals on the first and second day + 2 meals (breakfast
and lunch) on the third day.
-Local guide in Spanish (We can include English speaking gu
ides in private tours)
-Mules and camping equipment