In northern Guatemala's Peten region, southeast of Tikal, Poptun (240 mi/387 km northeast of Guatemala City) is a small town known for its proximity to the Naj Tunich cave and Finca Ixobel. The cave, which has erotic Maya paintings and an underground hot-springs pool, is closed to anyone without a special government permit because it was vandalized in 1989. (If you're part of a research team, however, consult with local tour companies to see if any of them has a permit.)

The Finca Ixobel is a large ranch bent on ecotourism. It's also a bohemian-traveler destination, with a variety of facilities for camping and dorm-style lodging. Horseback riding, hiking, caving and rafting trips can all be organized from Finca Ixobel. Though it can be a rewarding destination, driving in the area can be dangerous because of highway robberies; whether traveling by car, bus or shuttle, we recommend traveling only by day, preferably with a group or convoy. (Though Poptun is on the road between Guatemala City and Tikal, it's better to fly north to Flores than to drive.)

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