Tikal Guatemala

We used Flores as a base for this trip. It is also possible to book a tour from Belize or to stay in the park but there are only a few places in the park.

Tikal is one of the largest Mayan sites in Central America and its not overly crowded. The park has lots of wildlife which is best seen in the early morning. You can get a van from Flores to Tikal at 4:30 am in order to catch the sunrise. It costs 100Q more to get into the park that early. We were low on cash and somewhat disillusioned with sunrise trips after watching the sunrise in Angkor Watt in a crowd of over 1000. In retrospect Tikal would have been worth it.

The park only accepts Guatemalan cash for entry and there are no ATMs. Entry is 150Q after 6:00 am.

We booked (or thought we booked) a 6:00 am ride from the hotel who assured us it would just come and get us. When it still had not arrived at 7:00 am we hit the streets, found a travel agent that was open and learned we needed tickets. We opted for 8:00 am and this time someone came and picked us up in a van. We drove around the island and when we passed the hotel a second time a different van appeared to be looking for us at our hotel. Not sure what happened there but we paid our 70Q and we were on our way.

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The van was basically a collectivo and it was pretty crowded. We stopped at a gas station and there was a guy with a sawed off shot gun beside the pumps. He was just hanging out making sure we were all safe I guess.

When we arrived at Tikal we were told the bus would take us back at 3:30pm which was odd because the tickets said 3:00pm or 6:00pm return.

There is a lot to see at Tikal. The most famous and most impressive site is The Great Plaza.

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Temple 1 is the largest of the structures at 44 metres. You are no longer allowed to climb if after a few tourists fell off it and died.

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We climbed Temple 2 which is also an impressive 38 metres. You climb it via a staircase built up the back. The views are amazing.

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There was wildlife around even in the middle of the day. We watched a local family feeding doritos to a Coati despite the numerous signs saying don’t feed the animals. We also saw some interesting woodpeckers.

 

We climbed Temple 5 and found some turkeys along the way. From there we went to the Lost World which is quite different but equally impressive. The foundations go back to 500 BC.

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Overall Tikal is amazing and definitely worth the trip. Its well signposted in English and Spanish with explanations about the ruins, the animals and the plant life.

 

There is a big tourist market at the entrance but the vendors are not allowed into the site. There are plenty of bathrooms and a few snack bars inside the site.

We made it back to the parking lot to catch our ride home but we could not find the van. We did find several of our fellow passengers so we stayed together thinking they would not leave us all behind. One of the Spanish speaking passengers asked a few drivers and was told we were going on a mini bus which did not look at all like the van we arrived in. None of us was convinced but eventually the driver of the original van showed up and assured us it was correct. The ride back was much more comfortable than the ride there.

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