fun things to do with kids flores lake petene guatemala   Travel for Kids
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Flores & Lake Peten

Flores, situated on an island in Lake Peten Itza, is a sleepy town with a Caribbean sensibility, bright-colored buildings, friendly people and a slow pace of life. Flores was once a Maya ceremonial center, by the 17th century it was a Spanish outpost, and today, it's the capital of Peten province. After you've visited Tikal with kids, Flores is a great place to relax.
Flores Photo Album
    Colored houses The houses, doors and windows in Flores are painted in bright colors – lime green, lemon yellow, pale purple, tangerine orange, powder blue, light turquoise, lemonade pink. Flores isn't very big, and it's fun for kids to stroll around around the island.
      Central Park (Parque Central) At sunset, climb up to Central Park in the middle of Flores. There might be a steel band playing, and trees around the gazebo are filled with sounds of very noisy birds, accompanied by the chiming of bells on the adjacent Catholic church. The view of the lake at sunset is lovely.
      Boating – Lake Peten Itza is quite large, and has plenty of places to explore. Take a motor launch to Petencito Zoo and Tayasal, or across the lake to the towns of San Andres or San Jose. Cruising at sunset is also pleasant, the air is warm and the sunsets spectacular. Arrange for pleasure boat rides (lanchas) on the east and west side of the lake.
      To explore the lake in a slower fashion, rent kayaks by the hour at Hotel Peten, or along the lake, on the west side of Flores.
    Petencito – Take a boat to Petencito, a zoo and nature area. Petencito is popular with local families, who bring their picnics and swim suits to make a day of it.
    The zoo features Guatemalan wildlife – a very plump jaguar, spider monkeys, a margay (like a small stripped tiger, very cute), grinning crocodiles, coatimundi, armadillo, parrots, sweet-looking deer. (Signs identifying the animals are labeled in Spanish, English, and Maya.)
      Hike on well-maintained nature trails through the dense forest. Don't miss the "Mirador" – a lookout, like a tree house, with views through the trees.
      If you want to swim in Lake Peten Itza, this is a good place. West of the zoo entrance is a beach area with a sandy bottom, and short wooden dock. There are also shaded picnic tables, so bring a picnic.
    Tayasal – Another spot to stop on Lake Peten Itza is Tayasal, another Maya ruin. The ruins of Tayasal are still mostly buried under the vegetation, but the lookout at the top of the hill is worth the visit. The lookout is a cool tree house that offers a panorama of Lake Peten Itza, the second largest lake in Guatemala. It's a striking view of the aquamarine lake, ringed with green, green vegetation, dotted with towns here and there.
Kids at Actuncan Cave Guatemala
  Actuncan Cave (Cuevas Ak'Tun Kan) – Cool off in the dark caverns of Actuncan Cave. The cave is only a short distance outside of Flores, tucked into a limestone hill covered with jungle foliage. Inside the cave, it's a self-guided walk through tall caverns, 10-20 ft high, lit with electric lights. The chalky stalactites and stalagmites are like melting chocolate and vanilla ice cream. You might see a bat or two flying around. Stick together – the cave is big enough that you don't want to get lost, and the clay floor is smooth, but slippery in places.
  Ixpanpajul Nature Park (Parque Natural Ixpanpajul) – Located convenient to the international airport, fly through the jungle canopy on ziplines, or walk high up on the Skyway, hanging bridges to a hill high above. The park also has horseback rides.

Fun food


On a hot day, order up a "limonada," fresh lime juice and soda water. The white bass (pescado blanca) is caught in Lake Peten, and is delicious.




Since the Maya, textiles have been an important art in Guatemala. Stop into the artesenias shops to buy textiles, ponchos, blouses with embroidery. At some shops, watch weaving with a backstrap loom. Guatemala also has many different kinds of hard woods which are used in delightful wood carvings of local animals – jaguar, monkeys, armadillos, coatimundis – small boxes and miniature canoes.

travel for kids | guatemala | northern guatemala | flores & lake peten
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