Set on the edge of Lake Petén Itzá (Lago Petén Itzá, this small zoo houses a collection of native Guatemalan animals, including ocelots, pumas, jaguars, and spider monkeys. Forested trails weave past the enclosures, which are spread across two islands connected by a bridge. Its shoreside position affords stunning views of the lake.
Guided tours from Flores typically combine a visit to the Petencito Zoo with a trip to the San Miguel Peninsula to see the Maya ruins of Tayazal; El Mirador del Rey Canek, a lookout with photo-worthy views of the lake; and Santa Bárbara, an island-set museum displaying archeological finds unearthed nearby. In addition to big cats and monkeys, the zoo is also home to colorful native birds such as macaws and toucans.
Things to know before you go
- Petencito Zoo enjoys a quiet natural setting in the lakeside forest, making it a great spot for travelers hoping to relax amid nature.
- Bring bug spray to ward off mosquitoes.
- Wear comfortable shoes as the trails at the zoo are uneven and can be slippery, especially after rain.
How to get there
Petencito Zoo is set on Lake Petén Itzá, just east of the island town of Flores. It can be reached by boat or road. If driving, follow the Calle 1A road east from Flores and take the turnoff for San Miguel.
When to get there
The Petén region of Guatemala is hot and humid so it’s best to visit the zoo in the morning, before temperatures spike. The best time of year to visit is during the dry season (November to March), as some bridges and promenades can go underwater during the rainy season, and trails (such as that to El Mirador) can be mucky.
Where to Stay on Lake Petén Itzá
The third-largest lake in Guatemala, Lake Petén Itzá is most well-known for its star attraction: Flores, an island-town with cobblestone streets, pastel colonial-era buildings, and numerous accommodation options. The eastern shoreline of the lake offers a quieter base in the form of El Remate, a town known for its artisan woodcrafts. From El Remate it’s just a short hop to the subtropical forest reserve of Biotopo Cerro Cahuí, a hiking and bird-watching paradise.
- Actún Can Caves
- Lake Peten Itza (Lago Petén Itzá)
- Ixpanpajul Natural Park (Parque Natural Ixpanpajul)
- Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal)
- Petén Forest
- Seibal (Ceibal)
- Maya Biosphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera Maya)
- Aguateca Archaeological Site
- Pasión River (Rio La Pasión)
- Estación Biológica las Guacamayas (EBG)