Aguateca

Aguateca, Sayaxche

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4.5
47 reviews
Excellent
25
Very good
15
Average
5
Poor
1
Terrible
1

Lev
12 contributions
We are alive! Sight of the second birthday.
Nov 2020
We have been to Aguateca in January 2014.
The pyramids, all archaeological sights and jungles are really interesting.
It is really a magnificent place, but very, very dangerous.

We have met a gang of criminals, who were ready to kill us. The only thing saved us. Anyone who has a lot of tattoos is respected by criminals in Guatemala. My Dad is covered in tattoos, so bandits scared of him, after he has took off his T-shirt, they were looking on us in silence for ten minutes, and then escaped.
Our guides said that it was their second birthday and they would never return to Aguateca.
That gang was wanted by local police and killed some tourists in that region.
We are happy that we are alive.
Written November 29, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

MADPhilOxon
Reading, UK91 contributions
An isolated Mayan site
Jan 2018 • Solo
I have now visited a total of 30 Mayan sites in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico as a tourist, which perhaps allows me to speak with moderate authority. Aguateca is principally a Classic period Mayan site at the end of a tributary of the Rio Pasión, itself a major tributary of the Usumacinta. It is accessible only by boat from Sayaxche. It appears that some or many of the inhabitants of nearby Dos Pilas migrated to the pre-existing site Aguateca in the 8th century, but the site was abandoned in the 9th century. It stand on the top of a bluff standing 300 feet (90 m) above the river and is fortified with a circling wall making it relatively impregnable. The site is divided in two by a chasm which is thought to have been used in ritual practices. By lighting fires in the chasm, the inhabitants were able to produce large volumes of black smoke. This issued from the chasm simulating rain clouds, a practice presumably designed to summon a deluge.

I had been very much looking forward to visiting Aguateca. Its isolation and its chasm made it sound extremely romantic. I travelled with a boatman and my guide from Sayaxche to the end of the Rio Pasión tributary. There was only one other lancha at the docking site so the site was essentially deserted. I suspect that this is quite the norm. We scrambled up a path past what may have been the visitors’ centre with associated offices, but this was now derelict (see photograph). We passed a viewpoint looking over Laguna Petexbatun and entered the well-kept main site. All around were the calls of howler monkeys, one of which (a male!) could clearly be seen (see photograph). Whilst we were looking round the site, we noticed two local youths who seemed to be watching us intensely from a distance. They were clearly not Mayan scholars or tourists. It was worrisome that they were both carrying machetes. We engaged them in trivial conversation whilst maintaining our distance and continued with our visit. They eventually wandered off into the jungle.

Although the site Aguateca is said to be well-preserved, the remains are all of a low aspect and this presumably represents the fact that the township was destroyed when the area was abandoned. Whether it was the inhabitants who razed the town or aggressive invaders does not seem to be known. There are some interesting stelae (see photograph) at the site but I cannot read the Mayan glyphs, only the numerals. The chasm which I thought would be spectacular was a little disappointing.
As we were leaving the site, my guide mentioned that there had been quite a few robberies there. He said that it seemed to be large groups that were primarily targeted, presumably because there were richer pickings to be had. Maybe that is why we were not so considered suitable targets. My reaction to this was ‘Now YOU tell me’.

I would not go back to Aguateca. The trip there and back by boat was interesting. The site itself was less so. I think there needs to be more of an official presence there to ensure the safety of the visitors. I did feel rather vulnerable and I am not a person who normally bothers too much about my susceptibility to violence. I have travelled extensively in Latin America and this occasion was the only time that I have ever felt threatened.
Written June 13, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mycklane
Paris, France141 contributions
To visit before Tikal
Jan 2018 • Couples
Nice site a bit raw to visit with Ceibal before Tikal (take a night at Chiminos Jungle Lodge). Not to miss
Written January 19, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

moose938
Denver, CO220 contributions
Amazing Ruins!
Aug 2017 • Friends
Note: Make sure you bring ALL the mosquito repellent - you will need it. After an hour-long boat ride, you'll arrive at a small clearing, hope out of the boat, and start up the steps toward Aguateca. Your guide will sign you in and then you'll start the meandering walk through stairs and crevasses to get to the site. Beautifully preserved, the only thing that needs upkeep are some of the steps you will take to get there. Make sure to bring plenty of water as this is NOT like Tikal where there are refreshment stands.
Written August 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ronald S
IJsselstein, The Netherlands37 contributions
Unforgettable jungle experience to hike to this Mayan village.
Feb 2017 • Friends
Take a boat with a guide to Aguateca, hike the long trail to the Mirador and climb through the gorges, by finally visiting the stunning remains of the Mayan village.
Better then a book or a movie, Unforgettable.
If lucky you will see a lot of monkeys.
Unforgettable jungle experience to hike to this Mayan village.
Written February 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

LeisureZootLarry
Edmonton, Canada49 contributions
Wonderful!
Jan 2017 • Solo
Did a day trip to Aquateca when staying at Chiminos Island Lodge. Beautiful Mayan site - especially the canyon before you get to the main area. Howler monkeys, the caretakers, the guide and I were the only ones there. I would recommend grabbing one of the walking sticks at the entrance before you explore the site.
Written February 12, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ludwiga M
2 contributions
Spectacular View, ruins and crater
Dec 2016 • Family
The views, the ruins, monkeys and the craters around this Mayan city where spectacular, Don Julian is the best tour guide he explained in detailed every part of the city and the kids enjoyed learning more about the Mayan culture and the adventure walking around the Mayan city.
Written January 23, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Max L StH
128 contributions
Beautiful small site.
Apr 2016 • Friends
Aguateca is a couple hours down the river on a motorized boat ride. It's worth the visit, and if splitting the price of the boatride with 2-3 people, it's not that pricy.
Another cool site to visit is Dos Pilas, and that one is accessible by road, through the small town of El Nacimiento.
Written July 5, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mrs Daisy
Vancouver, Canada145 contributions
Difficult to reach site that is not being maintained
Feb 2016 • Couples
I am told the staff have been on strike for 2 years. Walkways and stairs are not being maintained, visitors centre is condemned. It is a long stiff climb up the side of the mountain to reach this site and due to inadequate maintenance, portions of the site such a the Mirador are not accessible. There are two entrances but only one was usable because the water level is low.
Written March 3, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ChinaRich
Guangzhou, China272 contributions
Need a guide.
Jan 2016 • Couples
We did this as the morning part of a day trip from Sayaxche with a hired boatman/guide. The morning journey to the ruins was great with morning mist over the river. There were plenty of birds to spot. The site has several excavated buildings and a natural canyon which served as defence. Our Spanish speaking guide gave this site a lot more depth and we spent over two hours there. We saw plenty of birds and both spider and howler monkeys. We far preferred this to Ceibal, although the latter offers a boat journey on which you can spot crocodiles.
Free to enter!
Written January 26, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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