I recently visited the expansive Mayan archaeological site at Tikal, Guatemala during a vacation to Central America. This was an amazing experience, from hiking through the massive ruins, to climbing the temples, and finally to watching the sunset from Temple IV.
We started our trip out in Flores, Guatemala which is a neighboring town to Tikal (there are a few hotels in Tikal, but the nearest airport is in Flores). We chose to fly to Flores from Belize, rather than drive, which was a good decision in that it saved us a lot of time and allowed us to explore a new city. (Note: Guatemala was extremely budget friendly in general for food and drink, which was a great treat)
We hired a private tour ($90 USD each) to drive us to/from Tikal from Flores, and got to stop and have a traditional Guatemalan lunch of corn soup, veggies, and chicken with corn tortillas. We then headed to the site, picking late afternoon so we could catch a sunset, and hiked to the temples and main ruin areas. This is a relatively easy hike (unless you climb the temples, then moderate), as each temple is located 15 – 20 min away, and you have to hike through jungle paths (though the signage was very limited in the park). Our guide, Carlos, is a 35 year veteran of Tikal, and was a great source of knowledge and information on the site, the history of the area, and ancient Mayan traditions. He even had an in with the guards, who let us around Temple IV so we could catch the setting sun on our way out.
My favorite parts of this excursion were catching the temple tops of the trees from Temple IV, and discovering the ruins as we walked through them. A word to the wise though, if catching a sunset, make sure you have a flashlight on you. We luckily had iPhone flashlights and were able to make the 30 min hike out of the jungle ok, though without it was literally pitch black! See below for a quick list of things to bring on a visit to Tikal.
Things to take if visiting Tikal:
Bottled Water (very limited other than at the main entrance)
3M Ultrathon Bug Repellant (or other)
A light snack like trail mix
Hat/Sunglasses (for day time treking)
personal stock photos
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