About two hours away from Guatemala City, you can find Iximche, 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.
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 Mayan 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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