Exploring Tecpán: a visit to the Iximche Mayan Ruins and Bonanza La Ponderosa
About two hours away from Guatemala City, you can find the Iximche Mayan Ruins, a small Mayan archaeological site in the western highlands of Guatemala (Tecpán). The well-preserved ruins are the closest Mayan ruins to lake Atitlán and really worth a visit for a day trip from Guatemala City or Panajachel.
Combine your visit to Iximche Mayan Ruins with a visit to Bonanza La Ponderosa, a nice park in Tecpán where you can enjoy plenty of activities like horse riding, zip-lining, and bumper ball. In this post, I describe my experience!
How to travel to the Iximche Maya Ruins?
I traveled with public transportation and taxi from Guatemala City to Tecpán. A local family arranged the transportation for me, but if I remember well, we took the bus Guatemala El Trebol Zona 7 to Tecpán, Guatemala. It took around 2 hours. Then we took a taxi for about 20 minutes.
The easiest way to travel from Guatemala City to the Iximche Maya Ruins is by an organized tour via GetyourGuide or Viator. I always use these companies to book tours online. This Iximche and Antigua Day Tour includes transportation from Guatemala City or Antigua to Ixminche, Ciudad Vieja and Antigua. A guide will explain you all the details about the enthralling history and archaeological site of Iximché. Furthermore, a lunch is included in Antigua. In my opinion this is the easiest way to explore it all! Viator offers a similar tour to Iximché from Guatemala City and also from Panajachel you can book a tour to Ixminche.
A little history of the Iximche Mayan Ruins
The Maya ruins of Iximche was ruled by the Maya Kaqchikel Indians from the 12th to the 15th century. For about 60 years this was the capital of the Kaqchikel and the first capital in Guatemala. At the time of the Spanish conquest Iximche, it was the second most important city in the Guatemalan Highlands.
The Iximche Mayan Ruins today
Nowadays, at Iximche you can find the well-preserved ruins including many pyramid-temples, palaces, a ceremonial area, and two Mesoamerican ball-courts. The ruins are surrounded by steep slopes and pine trees and truly is a beautiful area. At the back of the site is a tree where there are still Mayan rituals being performed. If you watch the rituals, remember to be quiet and that taking photos and videos is not allowed. The ruins are very well maintained. There is a lot of space to walk around and it is not overcrowded by tourists. Most visitors to Iximche are actually indigenous Maya.
There are explanation panels throughout the site, but keep in mind they are only in in Spanish and Kaqchike. At the entrance, you can also search for a guide who can give you a tour for about an hour. A guide will cost you around 140 Quetzals ($18,71 or €16,34). At the entrance of the ruins is also a big parking place. Next to the parking place is a small museum where you can see stuff that has been found during excavations and there is a picnic area and football field. The entree to Iximche Mayan Ruins is 5 Quetzals ($0.67 or €0.58).
A visit to the Iximche Mayan Ruins will take you about two hours. It is nice to bring some picnic lunch with you and to combine the visit with a visit to Bonanza La Ponderosa.
Bonanza La Ponderosa, a recreational park with nice activities
Bonanza La Ponderosa is a park in Tecpán that most tourists never heard about. My local friends introduced me to the park and it is really worth a visit! The park is, like the Iximche Mayan Ruins, is also located in the western highlands of Guatemala and is kind of a recreational park.
You must pay an entrance fee to get in, but in return you receive a ticket that you can use for one of the many attractions that are there. The entrance fee is 25 Quetzal ($3,34 or €2,92). When you have used your ticket, you can buy more tickets for a cheaper price inside the park.
One of the activities is ziplining. This was so much fun! There is also a little lake where you can go canoeing, a park where you can go horse riding or riding a tractor, and some fields where you can play other games like bumper ball, chess, table tennis, and more.
On the site, you will also find an open-air theatre, where regularly performances are played and a restaurant where you can order really nice local meals.
A visit to the Bonanza La Ponderosa park will take you about three to four hours. In combination with a visit to the Iximche Mayan Ruins, enough time for a fun day out!
I hope you have the chance to visit the Iximche Maya Ruins or the Bonanza La Ponderosa park one day yourself. If you have any other tips or recommendations regarding these attractions, please share them in the comment box below!
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How did you get there from Guatemala City? I can’t find anything on line.
Hi Tara, thanks for asking. I just wrote a paragraph about ‘How to travel to the Iximche Maya Ruins?’. Hope it’s helpful. Safe travels!
I loved my time in Guatemala, Tikal was a real hghlight for me! Any myan era ruin sounds great for an adventure though! its amazing the sheer scale of the structures they managed to build by hand! Thanks for taking us along!!
Would still like to visit Tikal one day! Hope I still have time for this while staying in Guatemala. It is indeed amazing to learn about the Maya history and how they built these amazing structures.
I’ve not yet been to Guatemala, but would love to see it one day. Tecpan looks so interesting and it’s incredible that the ruins are still so well preserved. Nice to know it’s not overrun with tourists either!
Can totally recommend Guatemala! Such a beautiful country with friendly people and amazing nature and history! Tecpan is indeed something I would recommend if you want to learn about the Maya culture and if you like less overcrowded touristic sites.
Wyld Family Travel (@wyldfamtravel)
So much history in this part of the world to explore. The orbs look like heaps of fun to break up a day of learning about some amazing history
There is indeed still so much to explore in Guatemala and other parts of the world! The orbs indeed were fun!! =)