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One of the problems with a normal day-trip to Tikal is that you don't get to enjoy either a sunrise or sunset experience at the Temples. Because of that fact, we chose to spend a night in the Park so we could do one or both of the above. Our afternoon exploratory excursion was successful in giving us an idea of where we would have to be going and how long it would take to reach an appropriate viewing site.
We gave ourselves plenty of time, leaving our hotel at about 5 PM (following our late-afternoon rest) for the approximately half-hour, uphill walk to the Mundo Perdido temple. We had earlier been advised by one of the guides at the Information Booth that this was the desired location for sunset viewing due to scaffolding/repair works at the top of Temple IV preventing it's full use. We were right on schedule as we made the climb up the relatively short Mundo Perdido and joined the small crowd on top - the tour busses were long gone by this time of day.
The first photo shows the group enjoying the breezes and soft light as the sun set somewhere on the horizon behind Temple IV. The second photo was taken from the top of Temple IV the next morning, looking toward Mundo Perdido, and shows that this smaller temple barely clears the jungle tree tops!
Updated Mar 7, 2006
Our quiet half-hour period atop Mundo Perdido before the sun set at 6:05 PM was the best part of the whole Tikal trip! It was so peaceful up there, just the sounds of nature and the feel of the breezes as the panoramic landscape of jungle and temples lay before us. We had walked past Temple III (at the left side in this photo) earlier in the day and the jungle foliage had blocked my view a bit, so I had not realized that it was so impressive! When viewed from the side like this, Temple III looks very narrow, because the widest parts of all the Temples at Tikal are constructed to fully display their splendor when viewed from an East-West direction.
In the second photo, I turned toward the west to almost look in the direction of the setting sun, which is off the scene to the left of Temple IV. The final photo shows the top of the Temple of the Giant Jaguar (Temple I) lit-up by the sun as we passed by on our walk to Mundo Perdido. We never saw anyone climbing this temple during our visit, so I don't know if that is a temporary ban or not.
Updated Mar 6, 2006
Once the sun was just about below the horizon (second photo), the crowd atop Mundo Perdido did not waste any time getting to the bottom, and we were amongst the first to make it down! The individual steps are not outrageously high and the slope was manageable as well.
One thing you should bring with you on the sunset or sunrise tours is a flashlight (torch) ! Even though we 'forced-marched' ourselves along the shortest route back, it was almost totally dark by the time we made it back to the hotel. Luckily, by then we were on fairly straight pathways that we were familiar with - but it would be very dicey walking on the uneven Park trails in the dark. Not to mention various things that may come crawling and creeping out onto the paths in the blackness.
We decided not to bother with a 'sunrise' attempt because it had been cloudy the previous morning (and it turned out to be again), we would have had to make the walk into the park in the dark while waiting for the sun to rise and, if viewed from Mundo Perdido again, the rising sun would have been shining into our eyes as it rose behind Temples I, II and III (not the best angle for good photos). OK, maybe we were just plain lazy but I was very happy with what we had already seen!
Updated Mar 9, 2006
If you happen to end up in the park after hours, which is unlikely, go to temple IV for the sunset, moon rise and subsequent lightning storm on 3 sides in the distance. You won't want to leave so don't. I didn't.
Dress Code: Anything is better than shorts, a tank top, and a cheap rain pancho, but if it's all you've got...
Written Mar 17, 2008
4 Reviews and 192 Opinions We stayed two nights here, choosing it because of its nearness to the ruins. The plan was to be able...