In addition to the site of Dos Pilas, you’ll find the smaller neighboring sites of Tamarindito and Arroyo de Piedra within the confines of Petexbatún Wildlife Refuge. Though the site’s well-documented history is almost epic in proportion, its remains are much less astounding, mostly because of the circumstances under which its reign came to an end.
Still, there are some well-carved stelae and some rare hieroglyphic staircases surrounding the main plaza. A palace and a temple can also be seen here, with a tomb having been discovered underneath the latter. The jungle vegetation here is also well preserved.
Dos Pilas is accessible by boat from Sayaxché via the Arroyo Petexbatún. A trailhead lies just before the Posada Caribe at a place known as Paso Caribe, from where it’s a three-hour hike down the 12-kilometer trail to the site. You can do the trip for about $26 per person per day including horses and mule skinner. Contact the Posada Caribe (tel. 5304-1745, www.posadacaribe.com) to arrange this option.
Along the way, you’ll pass the smaller sites of Arroyo de Piedra, with a plaza and two stelae, and Tamarindito, the site of another hieroglyphic stairway. Camping is permitted at Dos Pilas and is free. There is also a trail from here to Aguateca, which is about 12 kilometers away.
Thanks to the Guatemalan government’s efforts to make remote Mayan sites more accessible, a road also leads to the vicinity of Dos Pilas. Heading south from Sayaxché, the road is paved for the first 34 kilometers to the small community of Las Pozas. From there it’s a 21-kilometer dirt road west to El Nacimiento and a further three-kilometer foot trail to Dos Pilas to round out the journey.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com