Hidden in the lush rainforest of Guatemala is the wonderful site of Tikal, the ancient capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Mayan civilization.
Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1979, Tikal is unique for its history, culture and exotic location. It is one of the Mayan ruins you cannot miss on your trip through Central America.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TIKAL
The construction of the city of Tikal began in 600 B.C. and for the next 1,500 years it was an important scientific, political and religious center.
During its heyday, around the year 500 A.D., Tikal became the center of commerce and one of the most powerful cities in the Mayan world, housing more than 60,000 people under the rule of various governors over a period of 800 years.
For reasons still unknown, the city began its decline around 870 A.D. before being completely abandoned about the year 900 A.D.
Tikal is a huge archeological site and most of its ruins are still covered by the thick jungle. The complex has more than 3,000 structures such as homes, temples, altars and terraces, although only a part of this is visible.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TEMPLES TO VISIT IN TIKAL
1. Temple I or Temple of the Great Jaguar
Although this is not the tallest building with a height of 44 meters, it is the most famous of all the temples of Tikal and is the classic image you have seen of the ruins. It is located in the main square, next to other spectacular structures.
2. Temple II or Temple of the Masks
Also located in the main square with a height of 37 meters, this is a beautiful temple that you can climb for spectacular views of the surroundings, the main square and the great Temple I.
3. Temple IV or Temple of the Two-Headed Snake
This is the tallest temple in the complex with a height of 70 meters. A large part of the structure is still under excavation, but there are stairs to access the top and enjoy the best views of the site.
4. Maler’s Palace
This palace next to the main square is an interesting structure with different levels, steps and tunnels that you can explore without the presence of many tourists.
WHERE TO CLIMB AND ENJOY TIKAL AT SUNSET
There are several places where you can enjoy a beautiful sunset in Tikal. I personally loved to climb Temple IV to admire other temples rising over the jungle. This place is spectacular at dusk, with orange colors over the clouds and the forest and the sound of thousands of wild animals around.
Check out the Ultimate Guide to Tikal National Park
TIPS AND THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN VISITING TIKAL
1. Only 10% of the ruins are accessible, as the rest are still buried in the jungle, but be prepared to walk all day because the place is huge!
2. The distances between some temples can take 10 or 20 minutes to cross and the heat and humidity are ridiculous, so bring plenty of water.
3. There are no ATMs in Tikal, so bring all the money you need from Flores.
4. If you want to climb temples to watch the sun set, you may have to pay a little bribe to the guards. Yes, absolute corruption!
BUDGET FOR VISITING TIKAL
The admission fee to the National Park is 150 Q, which is about 20 euros or so. The ticket can be purchased at the park entrance.
HOW TO GET TO TIKAL FROM FLORES
There are some minibuses leaving from Flores with different schedules, so you can go in the morning if you want to and return just after sunset. The price is about 75 Q return and the ride takes an hour and a half.
WHERE TO STAY WHEN VISITING TIKAL
Most visitors stay in Flores, El Remate or some lodges situated inside the national park.
Personally, I loved the small island of Flores, with its Caribbean colonial architecture and relaxed atmosphere.
There are plenty of restaurants and places where you can relax and enjoy the scenery of the lake surrounding the little island.
Flores also has a great range of hotels and hostels. I stayed at Hotel Los Estudiantes and I can recommend it as one of the best options. It’s a very nice place, with a small courtyard with flowers. Its rooms are clean and it’s a good value for the money.
If you are traveling to Guatemala, I highly recommend that you get a good insurance policy. Trusted by thousand of adventurers, World Nomads is one of the best and more reliable options (without breaking your bank).
Do you have any questions about How to travel to Tikal from Flores? Please, contact me!
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Hi, I’m Miguel; Adventure traveler, scuba diver and hiking lover. I have been traveling the world for the last 10 years and I hope my experiences, photos and hiking routes inspire you to travel the world too.