A Day Trip to Tikal – Guatemala’s Mayan Capital

I was already sold on Guatemala long before my day trip to Tikal. I fell in love with Antigua’s charm, I enjoyed the diverse villages around Lake Atitlan, and I took in the colours of Chichicastenagro. On top of that, a stray dog rescued me from what was, in my mind, certain harm. Yes, Guatemala had won me over before visiting one of its most visited sites. A day trip to Tikal was just the caramel icing on the Platanos en Tentacion.

A Little bit on Tikal

Tikal, as I was repeatedly told by anyone I let know I was on my way to Guatemala, is not to be missed. It is, in short, one of the largest and best preserved Mayan cities. It was once the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya and its settlement has been dated back to 1000 BC!, Yes, Tikal is an impress and significant site in Mayan culture. With dozens of temples to explore and thousands still buried by jungle, it is easy to see why.

Get in

Tikal National Park park is located a short 65 KM’s from the tiny island town of Flores. Although there’re several lodging options inside the Tikal National Park, Flores is worth a visit on its own. This cute town sits on a small island in Lake Petén Itzá and has plenty of great dining and accommodation options, much cheaper than what you will find inside the park. We had a driver and a guide which was coordinated through our hotel. At ~$60 USD per person, it was not cheap but by far the most comfortable and private day trip to Tikal experience possible. It also included a full meal in the park and we were free to make our own schedule.

So. Many. Pyramids.

As we made our way past the howler monkeys and through the Tikal pyramids; I felt the same bewilderment as I did during my visit to Newgrange in Ireland and the pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

How? Just how?

Although there is plenty to see on a day trip to Tikal, Temples I to VI are the most significant. Some of them you can still climb and some are as high as 200 feet!

So Many More Pyramids

The truly baffling thing about this day trip to Tikal is the fact that this ancient city is so much bigger than what we can see today. With an unknown amount of pyramids still buried by jungle, Tikal is impressively huge. Why are they still buried? Cost. To clear out 1 stone from roots and jungle vegetation takes an plenty of time and even more quetzal. Although efforts are ongoing, it all depends on funds. Interestingly enough, the fact that we can even take a day trip to Tikal today is partially thanks to Han Solo…

Use the force

Tikal’s backdrop from on top of the Temple IV was the filming location for the 1977 super film, Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. This exposure still brings nerds to this spot today, present company included.

Thanks to the success of the Star Wars franchise, Tikal was put on the map. This has given the park a huge shot in the arm…or bank account.


The Main Event

Our day trip to Tikal experience concluded in dramatic fashion. Just when we thought we had seen it all our guide strategically took us around a corner to a vantage point overlooking the main plaza.

No words.

Worth the Trip

After wandering the main plaza and taking in the views from different vantage points, we called it on our day trip to Tikal. Although sticking around for sunset is a popular activity, I had overheard a couple talking about the muggy sky dampening their view at sunrise. After passing on sunset I took a look at other bloggers sunset pictures and now have regret I didn’t stick around. My loss is forever your gain.

Plus, just another excuse to return to this amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day trip to Tikal Good to Know

Park Fee: US$ 20– 22
Hours: 6:00AM – 5:00PM
Don’t Miss: Climbing Temple 4 and the Main Plaza!

What say you?
Thoughts on this Day trip to Tikal?
Let’s hear it!

For more reviews from Central America and beyond see HERE.

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