Favorite thing: One of the best things about Tikal is that it has been left in a jungle state and wildlife is everywhere. If you are a bird fan then you can see parrots, toucans, and the oscillated turkey among others. For me the highlight was listening to the male howler monkeys. The howler monkey sounds like a jaguar to try and scare off predators. I think that they were just trying to scare the tourists away.
Noone knows why the Mayan civilization began to wane by 900 AD and Tikal was abandoned. By 1000 AD, the jungle had completely engulfed the city.
Some theories are overpopulation, drought, regional warfare or a combination of all of these. It is humbling to imagine that a great city can become a ghost town. It makes me wonder of this could happen one day to a city like New York or Toronto?
The Mayan ruins were discovered by European explorers in 1847. Most of the ruins would have been completely covered over by the jungle except for the uppermost pinnacles of the tallest temples. Excavation began soon thereafter and continues today. You can see how some of the structures are completely engulfed by tree roots and soil. It must be a painstaking labor of love to restore the ruins.
Today it is a magical experience to wander through this ancient city. Admission is 50 Q or approx $6US. The park is open from 6am to 6pm.
Tikal was home to the Maya for over 1500 years. There is evidence of occupation as early as 700BC. Tikal was most prosperous between 300 and 900 AD when it reached a peak population of 100,000.
It is believed to have reached is pinacle as the most important Mayan city by 700 AD under the rule of King Moon Double Comb (aka Lord Chocolate). He was the 26th successor to the throne and lived from 682 AD to 734 AD.
He not only restored the military strength of Tikal but also built most of the great temples that are still standing today. His body was buried beneath Temple I along with a cache of jade and pearl treasures.
You will see lot's of these just wandering around if you're lucky. I think the spanish word for them is pavones. They look like a cross between a north american wild turkey and a peacock.They will get aggressive and flap their wings andscream at you like a peacock will if you get too close.
I have been told they are rare becuase they are Tasty.
Tikal is a huge place and it helps to have someone to show you around. Our driver saw a friend as we were driving down the road, we stopped and picked him up and we had a guide, I'm trying to remember what we paid him, Deffinatly worth it for the information.
Louis knew the site extremely well, We only had one day so he hurried us along to see all we could. This made for a hot hike and we were hurried along from spots we would have lingered out but we saw an amazing amount.
Louis also was able to give us archeological and historical information, often mixed with astrological and science-fiction theories, that kept us entertainedand informed.
We wouldn't have known where to start without him and would have missed a ton, It's easily worth the few dollars.
If you get the last bus, minibus to tikal , to arrive after 3pm, then you get access for that day and the next day on the same ticket-park pass.
Fondest memory: Great sunset, and lack of people after 3pm and before 11am, great temples and good wildlife
We flew from Guatemala city to Flores airport. We had arranged for the hotel van to pick us up and to bring us to the park. The flight was about 1.5 hours. You can drive from Guatemala City but it wlll take you 10-12 hours and you may night to spend a night in a hotel along the way because traveling after dark in Guatemala is not really very safe.
Also, you can drive from Belize which is about 50 miles.
Favorite thing: The is an information center that has a hugh model of the various structures. Stop and see this first before actually going to the structures. You will have a better idea of the relationship of the various temples.
The ruins of Tikal are amazing in themselves. They are situated in the Peten area of Guatemala. The ruins are engulfed by the dense jungle in the area so just walking in the area gets you close to not only this magnificant monuments to the Mayan civilization, but also to the countless of animals and other aspects of the natural beauty of the region.
Fondest memory: Climbing atop of Temple IV, where a scene of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was filmed. The scenery is amazing, worth enjoying during the day, during sunrise, or during sunset!
Climb the Temple of the Two-Headed Snake (Temple IV). At 212 feet, it is the tallest structure in the park (and in North America until the 18th century). This perch provides an unequaled view of the Guatemalan jungle canopy....although the lay of the land is somewhat flat, there is enough gradient to provide an undulating sea of green.
Sunrises are a mistical experience...one watches the fog melt off, rather than watch the sun rise. Hmmmm...was it always like that? The Mayan calendars are incredibly accurate...and include the Venutian cycle. If they couldn't see Venus in the morning, how did they figure its cycle?????
Fondest memory: The view from atop Temple IV is magnificent. (If you have a fear of heights.......have no fear. Access is gained by a wooden stairway that hugs the base of the pyramid. The base is still covered by tons of dirt and has heavy brush...it's like climbing a hill...a very high hill, and you're never more than a couple of feet off the ground; and, if you do fall off, the trees will break your fall).
Favorite thing: Tis is walking through the Mundo Perdido section.The name was a marketing ploy to attract donor money to fund the excavation in that area.
Favorite thing: There were some of these trees over 100 feet tall.They are just full of bromiliads and orchids and mosses
Favorite thing: The trees were blooming all across the park- really pretty views from up top. there were some bad fires burning the year we were there making the sky alittle hazy.
Favorite thing: Anthropologists believe that at the peak point the population of Tikal exceed 100000 inhabitants. Many of the elite lived near the temples in homes of stone.
Favorite thing: Get there early in the morning to begin your exploration. It is extremely hot and humid and you are going to be climbing up a lot of steps so get there when it is coolest. The gate opens at 6am