Seeing three, planned just one. Who and how? Me to visit not one, but three major ancient remaining sides of a magnificent Mayans (Tikal), Incas (Machu Picchu) and Aztecs (Teotihuacan) empires. Pretty great thing for someone who always was interested in archaeology. As a great Star Wars fan too, along with discovering the ruins, I could put my foot on one of the locations used in Episode IV and Rogue One movie. Day tour to Tikal definitely was one of favourite days in Guatemala. Despite the fact that I took an organised tour, it still felt very adventurous walking in the jungle discovering structure by structure, temple by temple. Hiking some of them, and finally finishing the whole tour by watching the disappearance of the sun in to the rain forest above, from the highest Mayan`s construction on the side. Remainings, in combination with Tikal`s remote location, create a mysterious atmosphere that only few other Mayan sites possess. These temples signify are one of the most important Mayan cities that dominated much of the Mayas world politically, economically, and militarily for centuries. The impressive structures lie scattered around the area. Today, many ruins are still covered by jungle. Tikal is just spectacular with their mystery labyrinth of limestone structures. You can wander around for hours. From a grassy central plaza alone through palace courtyards and bedrooms, or scramble up the north acropolis, with its jumble of temples, stumpy, pillar-shaped altars and carved-stone stellar, some with hieroglyphs still visible.
The side is best enjoyed as an organised trip. They are very affordable at just 10-15$ for a day tour to Tikal, and that includes transport and guide. The ticket to the side cost around 20$. Having a tour guide, in my opinion and in this case, is very important, otherwise you can miss on loads of information. It is also good to hear the history from local blood. You will be given enough time at area to properly look around and discover the park. Trip can be book in most of the hostels/hotels and tour agents. Flores is just full of them, and prices, as well as trips, are very similar, so no point to look around for too long. You can either book an early morning one, or an afternoon one. The first trip offers experiencing a raising sun over the park, but please note that it is watchable from the last and biggest temple, so I really think its best to leave it to the end. Not even mentioning that you will have to get up very early, and the price is also way higher. The afternoon option offers watching a sunset, so you will basically spend a time at the side, walking around the jungle, discovering loads of temples and structures, to finally finish at the biggest one, waiting for the beautiful time of even more beautiful sun disappearing in to magnificent panorama of temples and rain forest. I really suggest to book this trip, unless of course you have to rush. However, if you prefer to do it alone, you can catch a bus that goes there. Regular second class buses leave from the Santa Elena (located south from the Flores island) bus station to Tikal at 06:00, 06:30, 07:00, 08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 12:30, 13:00 and 15:00 arriving two hours later. It cost around 4$. A bus will stop in Tikal between 16:00 and 16:30 and continue onward to Uaxactún. The local buses do not run on Sundays. Beware about buying a round trip ticket from “Exploradores de la Cultura Maya” from the Santa Elena bus station as they may sell you a return ticket for a bus that doesn’t exist. The park’s main gate opens at 06:00, and officially closes at 18:00. Good advise is to take with you as much water as possible, 2-3 liters, before entering. I don’t think I have to explain you how hot is in this part of the world, not even mentioning that you will spend about 5-6 hours at the side, climbing some high temples. There are no shops inside, only, if you’re lucky, one man got a stand next to the highest, and last (!), temple with some drinks to sell. Whatever way you will choose, the main thing is to visit Tikal! It is a number one attraction in Guatemala, kind of a “Machu Piccu” of Central America. It is really amazing to discover how the pyramids were build, along with other structures, hidden in the jungle. To experience and access the ancient world. Its like going back in the past, but without DeLorean and a crazy doc.
4 thoughts on “Tikal, then back to the future”
Good advice for what seems to be a very adventurous trip.
Where did you fly Into?
Thank you 🙂 I have started my trip in Panama, and from there I was getting from one country to another by bus. Having said that, I think the best and cheapest option is to fly to Cancun, in Mexico, and from there take a bus to Flores (Guatemala), where you can stay and book a trip. Otherwise, flight to Guatemala City, and from there is 8h by bus to Flores.
I had to see this again. So fascinating!
Thank you so much for view 🙂 It is a remarkable place indeed!
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