East of the Ixlú junction on the road to Belize, a paved road runs 65km to the Belize border. The main attraction in these parts is Yaxhá, a huge Maya city on the fringes of two beautiful lakes: lagunas Yaxhá and Sacnab. The lakes are encircled by the dense jungle, swamps, savannah and wetlands of the Monumento Natural Yaxhá–Nakúm–Naranjo, whose 370 square kilometres harbour big cats, two species of crocodile and dozens of other reptiles, as well as prolific birdlife: spoonbills, the giant jabiru stork, eagles and vultures. It’s one of the very few places in Guatemala where tapir are known to be breeding. The Postclassic ruins of Topoxté are also accessible from Yaxhá, and a third large site, Nakúm, is about 18km to the north. Further east, close to the Belize border, a side track leads to the intriguing site of La Blanca and its imposing palace.

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