Yaxha, Guatemala Vacation Guide
In terms of size, the famous mayan ruins of Yaxha is a small Guatemala archaeological site with around 35 prehispanic buildings. Its importance during the Mayan development was high due to its strategical location. The archaeological site of Yaxha is located at the shores of the Lagoon Yaxha and Lagoon Sacnab. The political geography of the site was defined by the presence of water in its surrounding area. These water basins were used from the very beginning of the Mayan civilization as migration and exchange routes and also as natural borders.
The National Park Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo has been recognized as a wetland of global importance. Lagoon Yaxha and Lagoon del Tigre are considered to be the most important water bodies of the Maya Biosphere Reserve, making it of significant importance to the archaeological site of Yaxha.
Yaxha Attractions and Activities
Yaxha in Guatemala is part of a complex of different Mayan cities that were settled at the shores of Sacnab and Yaxha lagoons. It is one of the few Mayan sites that preserves its original name, meaning Green (Yax) Water (Ha).
The famous mayan ruins of Yaxha was the most important cosmopolis where the political activities and spiritual rituals of the area were centralized. Its inhabitants built over 1000 structures during their development, from which only 14 had been nicely restored. Yaxha is one of the oldest Mayan cities of Guatemalan lowlands and it treasures impressive temples, magnificent history and a unique heritage.
The Mayan of the National Park Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo had a clear concept of distribution of their living space and the importance of the water around them. All temples, small archaeological sites and plazas of the area were well connected through paved roads. Thanks to this efficient system, Yaxha is today the most accessible and explored part of the National Park Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo.
The local community works very hard to foster the prehispanic heritage of Yaxha. Their constant effort and the history of the site make Yaxha a stunning archaeological site you must visit during your stay in Guatemalan lowlands.
Excursions from Yaxha to other destinations near by
The Mayan city Nakum is characteristic for its amount of well restored Mayan sites. Is one of the three archaeological sites in Guatemala which exposes such a big concentration of prehispanic buildings in almost perfect conditions. The difficult path to Nakum is quite challenging and in rainy season is impossible to reach this city. The archaeological site is located at the shores of Holmul River and it gave the city an important role as a fluvial port. For this reason, Nakum stood standing while most of the Mayan cities collapsed during the end of their development.
Within the National Park Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo lays another famous Mayan site: Naranjo. This important city was in constant war to keep its hegemony; it controlled Yaxha for many years. Its even more strategical location between two important rivers (Holmul and Mopan) made Naranjo a powerful city, positioning it along with Tikal's as most important. It also had strong links with Caracol in Belize and Calakmul in Mexico.
Topoxte, together with Cante and Paxte were three islands in Yaxha Lagoon that played an important ceremonial role in the area. Topoxte, being the biggest island, showed an increase in the construction of their structures during the collapse of the Mayan period. This particular phenomenon makes the small city an interesting place to see the structure style of the Maya from the very beginning to the end of their boom.
Location and Map
Located in Northeast Guatemala, Yaxha is the third biggest archaeological site of our country. Travelers reach the National Park Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo from Flores which is just 62km / 39mi away. From Guatemala city you can either take a flight to Santa Elena or take ground transportation and discover the beautiful landscapes along the 10-hour route. The Park is accessible year round and offers excellent services to its visitors.
Population: approximately 2,200
Elevation: 200 m/492 ft