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Destination Details

Peten, Guatemala

El Zotz (Spanish pronunciation: [el sots]) is a Mesoamerican archaeological site of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, located in the Petén Basin region around 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of the major center of Tikal and approximately 26 kilometres (16 mi) west of Uaxactun. It is so called because of the large number of bats living in caves in the nearby cliffs (the original Mayan name was Pa'Chan). The site is located within the San Miguel la Palotada National Park bordering the Tikal National Park in the present-day department of Petén, Guatemala. It is a large Classic Period site and contains many unexcavated mounds and ruins.

El Zotz shared its Emblem Glyph with the powerful city of Yaxchilan in Chiapas, Mexico, and it is likely that the Yaxchilan royal dynasty had its origin in El Zotz.

The tallest temple structure is approximately 45 m (148 ft) high and is known as "El Diablo" (the devil), allegedly because the sides of the temple are dangerously steep. Conservation work has been carried out here by the University of San Carlos of Guatemala, including the construction of a rudimentary campsite for tourists. The area has caves and swamps and is a protected biotope. It is known for the hundreds of thousands of bats that fly out from under the cliffs at sunset.

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