Xocomil and Xetulul, collectively known as IRTRA, are the twin theme parks located in the southern department of Retalhuleu. Visiting a Guatemalan amusement park may rank low on your trip priorities, but the IRTRA combo is a breath of fresh air if you’ve been wandering the remote highlands for a while. To get here, head south from Xela towards the department capital of Retalhuleu, more commonly referred to as Reu. Descending from the highlands, you’ll be rewarded with views of four volcanoes, two on each side of the road – Santa María, Santiaguito, Santo Tomás, and Zunil. Six kilometers before Reu you’ll pass through El Zarco (Cuatro Caminos) on the Pacific highway. Continuing south, the road makes its way towards Xocomil and Xetulul through splendid Boca Costa scenery. The Boca Costa is the name given to the transitional region between the chilly highlands and sweltering coastal plains.
What can you expect when you arrive? The massive Xocomil water park is a Mayan-themed great time with dozens of water slides, a lazy river, and even a wave pool. Right next door, the Xetulul amusement park offers seven different thematic zones, each depicting a different aspect of Guatemala’s Mayan roots, Spanish history, and various European influences. Among the realistic reconstructions are Tikal’s Gran Jaguar temple, a Spanish galleon, and an Italian plaza. La Avalancha roller coaster will literally throw you for a loop.
Entrance to the parks may seem expensive for Guatemala, but they are truly outstanding. Try to get someone with a local ID card to go in with you – Reu locals will be able to get you a discount with minimal sweet-talking. Inside, both parks have a food court and plenty of cheaper street food vendors, plus you can rent lockers to store personal belongings. Buses between Xela and Retalhuleu pass right by the entrance at least every half hour. To stay the night on the grounds, the excellent IRTRA Hotels are pricy but offer a variety of comfortable rooms and first-world amenities.
Photo Credit: Traveled Earth