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Brought the kids along on your trip to Guatemala? Hanging around the small island town of Flores before you head out to the Mayan ruins of Tikal? You’re in a great place!
If you’re on Flores, you can’t help but notice you’re in the middle of a HUGE lake. Want to keep your children occupied for hours, or just want to cool off? Jump right in! Despite the greenish tint the lake is actually quite clean. It’s cool enough to be refreshing but not cold enough to give you palpitations when you first jump in. You can jump off, or step down, any of the docks along the walkways. They’re great places for sunbathing as well. Every day you’ll find plenty of local kids and adults enjoying the waters of Lake Peten as well, so it’s a great place to mingle with locals and visitors alike.
Another great family activity is taking one of the lanchas (motor-powered canoes) to the Petencito Zoo, which is located on another small island on the lake. The fare for the boat ride is usually around 20 USD total, and the boat can take up to 8 people. This price is roundtrip. Your boat pilot will wait at the zoo for you. For a little extra they’ll also take you on a tour around the lake and include stops to a beautiful sandy beach, to the watchtower providing views over the entire lake, etc.
While the zoo is small, it affords some very close encounters with animals, including amazing experiences with spider monkeys. As you stand near their enclosure, they will put their hands and tails through the fence. You and your kids can actually stand there holding hands with the monkeys. It’s incredible! Admission to the zoo is very reasonable at around 3 USD per person, and kids often get a discount. There are a couple of places selling snacks and drinks, but you’ll probably want to bring your own. Make sure to wear insect repellant, as well. The island is heavily forested and is perfect for mosquitoes. Wear good shoes or hiking sandals, too, since you can take some nice hikes around the island.
When back on Flores, walk up any street heading toward the church. At the top is a park where kids play basketball and football. This is also one of the areas that has the cheapest food. You can get a huge combo plate, including drink, for about $2. They typically serve a lot of kid favorites like burritos and tostadas, and mom and dad can grab a cold beer if they’d like. Next head to any of the Sarita shops and enjoy some tasty ice cream. If you haven’t eaten too much at the plaza, for about $2 you can get a 3-scoop sundae called La Bomba.
When planning your stay in Flores, make sure you give yourself some extra time there. It’s a town with a lot of hidden charm.