It has 14 different life zones and a diversity of climates. El Peten covers 33% of our territory (35,854km2). It has a soft topography, ranging from 50 to 275 meters above sea level.
The Maya Mountains to the southeast and the Lacandon Mountains to the west are the tallest of the region. The subsoil formed mostly by karstik rocks, which were once under the sea, was used by the Mayas to form the impressive cities that are actually hidden under the lush jungles.
“THE MAYAN BIOSPHERE RESERVE”
It is the most important Natural Reserve of the humid subtropical Mesoamerican forests and it has an extension of about 5 million acres.
Projects of scientific investigation are being developed here, where anthropologists, archeologists, biologists and limnologists are trying to rescue information about the Mayan Civilization, their agricultural methods, the provenience, and the motive of the abandonment of the area before the Spanish Conquest.
INFORMATION OF THE AREA
BAJO LA JUSTA
It’s a low-lying region about 150 km2, between the archeological sites of Yaxha and Nakum. It is divided between a palm swamp (bajo) full of palms such as warree palm, corozo and botan along with a low chaparral swamp full of jimbo, tinto, navajuela and caoutchouc. Between the shrubs, linear elevations of land may be found, which seem to be vestiges of old platforms used for growing crops.
These archeological elements are 3mts wide and 20mts tall. Between each island or fragment of raised land, there are concentrations of high jungle patches, this may mean that there existed places which may have been “Swamp Communities” such as Poza Maya, Cara Fea and Los Xateros.
Situated to the south of the Mayan Biosphere inside the park or NATURAL MONUMENT “Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo”.
The Yaxha lagoon, has a 15 km2 area has a maximum depth of 27mts, which may vary depending on each season, and is 158mts over sea level. Its temperature is between 25º and 30º Celsius, is located in parallel 17º04’ and 89º25’.
The permanent water sources at Yaxha and the nearby regions act as refuge, not only for aquatic species but also for migratory birds, as well. Is presently one of the last places in Eastern Peten where birds are safe. The area around the Yaxha and the Sacnab lagoons was completely destroyed during the Maya’s times, which was used for their settlements.
They are the key to biodiversity. The Ixtinto River, the Holmul River and its affluent, named Yaxha, are not connected to other water sources. They could well be one of the areas with the most endemic species and biodiversity in Guatemala. The swamps and reeds are very important due to the protection of food sources they represent for wildlife. The wetlands are places where birds, reptiles, and amphibians reproduce during the dry season. During dry spells, wetlands are a wildlife refuge thriving with life and during the rainy season they act as a reserve for species to recolonize the region.