It may have a funny name, but El Zotz is one of the most interesting places to visit in Guatemala. Located deep in the primeval jungle, El Zotz is an un-restored Maya ruin on the road to the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Tikal.
Whether you choose to ride or simply follow along the pack horses on foot, the trip to El Zotz passes through one of the most diverse biospheres in the globe. You’ll get a chance to see hundreds of butterfly species, colorful birds, and bigger wildlife like spider monkeys, howler monkeys, peccaries (a kind of pig), and even snakes and scorpions.
“El Zotz” is a mixture of Spanish and Mayan for “the bat” because the cliffs and caves in the area are home to tens of thousands of bats. Head to the escarpment around sundown and get a chance to watch a living waterfall as torrents of bats fly out for their nightly hunt.
From there, enjoy an overnight camp deep in the jungle to experience an authentic taste of nature. Many of the region’s most interesting and impressive creatures are only active at night.
The last stop is Tikal National Park, named for a Maya term meaning “where the voices are heard.” The unique rainforest around Tikal is home to enormous stands of mahogany, ceiba, and zapote trees that more than 285 species of birds call home.
The El Zotz trip is the perfect eco-tourism adventure, experiencing the loveliness of nature in Guatemala at its finest. The tour includes an experienced local guide and his assistant, purified drinking water, three meals a day, sleeping gear (hammocks with mosquito nets), the entrance fee to the Tikal National Park, and ground transportation.
Departures for El Zotz are scheduled daily. The price is $180 per person for groups of five or more, $220 apiece for four people or more, $240 apiece for three people, $260 for two people, and $500 for solo adventurers.