Frequently Asked Questions

"I read that Laguna del Tigre was almost completely destroyed by fires in 2003... what is left to save?"

The Fires of 2003

Laguna del Tigre is a home for critically endangered species, including the jaguar, scarlet macaw, and is a Ramsar World Heritage wetland, the largest in Central America.

The spring of 2003 witnessed more than 400 fires in the Laguna del Tigre Park. These fires, and others throughout the Maya Biosphere Reserve, were prelude to more comprehensive efforts to cut down the forest, burn it, and convert it to cattle pasture. An array of individuals and groups are working to dismantle the park.

A substantial amount of forest canopy remains intact within the enclave zone. Early rainy seasons and periodic rains during dry seasons have given the enclave a reprieve in recent years. Sustained, concerted and substantial efforts to expand the conservation presence must be funded to prevent the collapse of the park. Failure of the Laguna del Tigre Park would be disastrous to the future of Petén and Guatemala. Laguna del Tigre is the last major protected nesting ground of the Scarlet Macaw in Central America.

"Where is El Perú-Waka', and what is Laguna del Tigre?"

Guatemala Map

Waka' is the most important archaeological site in Laguna del Tigre which is Guatemala's largest National Park located in northwestern Petén. It is called El Perú on existing maps, but Waka' is its true Maya name. Waka' is a dense ruined city center of pyramids, palaces, plazas, and elite households with at least 700 buildings. It is set on a high escarpment, some 120 meters above the floodplain of the San Juan River to the west. The San Juan joins the San Pedro six kilometers south of Waka's center.

Waka' sits at the heart of Laguna del Tigre's core biosphere zone. More than 10,000 hectares of mature tropical forest and world heritage wetlands surround the site core of approximately 900 hectares. In collaboration with government and non-government partners, the Waka Archaeological Research Project is working to enhance protection of the core zone, plus another approximately 60,000 hectares of forest and wetlands to the north of Waka'.

"Does the project and/or foundation work with local communities?"

Group Photo 2005

Yes. Laguna del Tigre Park is also home to two invader communities of Paso Caballos to the east, and Buen Samaritano to the west, both on the San Pedro River. Both of these communities have negotiated agreements with the Council for Protected Areas and exist within established perimeters in the Park. The Waka' Project hires workers from both Paso Caballos and Buen Samaritano, as well as from two communities just outside the southern border of the Park, Centro Campesino and a string of villages along the road to San Benito we collectively call "Cruce Perdida" (the crossroads at Laguna Perdida.) The project and Foundation work with all of these communities.

El Peru Waka


  • Archaeology at Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre (PNLT)
  • About the Waka Research Foundation

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Waka Foundation
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St Louis, MO 63105