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Las Lagunas: A Guatemalan Jungle Escape

by Kathryn Bonn

Hiking distance from Mayan ruins so otherworldly they were used to stand in for a moonscape in a Star Wars film

Hiking through the jungle to the magnificent Mayan ruins at Tikal, the sounds of our feet crunching sticks and leaves gave way to a prehistoric screech—similar to what a pterodactyl might sound like. We looked up, but instead of a dinosaur, we spied dark, furry limbs swinging through the trees: howler monkeys hooting their eerie territorial “howl.” We stopped to marvel at their agility, even the mothers with babies on board.

Back at Las Lagunas, our luxurious home base, the howlers’ calls were my alarm clock the next morning, accompanied by the percussion of a woodpecker at work. A series of 19 plush, natural wood cabins with large decks (and private hot tubs) circle a peaceful lagoon, and the deluxe resort is ideally situated for tours to northeastern Guatemala’s magnificent ruins, known as the Petén trail.

Perched in the midst of the jungle resort, the Las Lagunas Spa features a range of treatments that end with a cup of calming allspice tea made with leaves plucked from around the property. A serene pool includes a water treadmill, better for serious swimming than the gorgeous infinity pool, which opens to the lagoon that is the centerpiece of Las Lagunas. An authentic Mayan ritual with a local shaman can be arranged, along with ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours of the 300-acre property, which includes an animal sanctuary. There’s also a protected Monkey Island guests can visit by boat, populated by spider monkeys that have been rescued from poachers or captivity.

Passing through airport security on the way home, I spotted a familiar face. “Patty?” It was the massage therapist who’d given me such a strong, soothing massage the day before. I thanked her for the treat, and for the visit to this unique and beautiful jungle oasis. laslagunashotel.com

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