Vast, sparsely populated and jungle-covered, Guatemala's largest and northernmost department is a wonderland of exploration. Whether it's the spectacular architectural achievements of the Classic Maya, the bounty of the forest or the chance to lounge lakeside that inspires you, it's all here in abundance.
How deeply you choose to delve into the Maya legacy will depend on your willingness to get your feet muddy. The towering temples of Tikal can be reached by tour from just about anywhere, while more remote sites such as El Mirador and Piedras Negras require days of planning and further days of jungle trekking.
The Reserva de Biósfera Maya (Maya Biosphere Reserve) covers virtually the entire northern third of El Petén, and together with its counterparts in Mexico and Belize forms a multinational wildlife haven that spans more than 11,583 sq mi (30,000 sq km).