Toucans are members of the family Ramphastidae of near passerine birds from the Neotropics. The Ramphastidae family is most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and about forty different species. The name of this bird group is derived from the Tupi word tukana, via Portuguese.
El Mirador is a massive site and tourists primarily only visit a small portion of what is there. If you give yourself a full day here, as should be a requirement, you will find some wonderful secrets and the further you get away from the crowds, the more wildlife you will experience. Make sure to carry a good map of the site so you don't get lost.
The area near complex G is cool and you can go to temple IV from there. Also, you can try and go behind the Mundo Perdido where there is some interesting stuff going on.
I recommend using a local guide at the site as they know a lot of out-of-the-way locations as well as many cool paths between temples to get away from the main thoroughfares.
Let me know if i can recommend a guide.
My tour of Tikal began with a visit through the set of four pyramids (two pair) called Complex Q and Complex R. Only one of the pyramids is actually restored and like all of the remains in Tikal, only the facade has been restored. There are a set of 9 stelae propped up before the pyramid. It is not exactly known what the pyramids where used for as they are not tombs or temples. It was stated by my guide that because they had flat tops, the pyramids may have been actually watchtowers. From the top, you can see most of the approaches to Tikal from the north.
If you don't want to pay for the over-priced Tikal's accomodation ... you don't have to go back to Flores or Santa Elena, there's another charming town much closer to Tikal... El Remate.
It's a small town on the shore of the lake... and I don't know why, but the water looks awesome... almost like in the Caribbean shores!
You can find some cheap campings, hostals and hotels... and it's only 30 to 40 minutes from Tikal.
TEMPLE VI IS THE MOST ISOLATED TEMPLE OF THE TIKAL SITE...IT HAS INSCRIPTIONS THERE.
PERSONALLY, I DON'T THINK IT'S WORTH THE WALK AS YOU TEND TO WALK FOR AGES TO GET THERE PLUS YOU'LL GET BOTHERED BY MOSQUITOES.
BUT IF YOU LOVE ARCHEOLOGY OR YOU'RE JUST CURIOUS ENOUGH TO SEE ALL THE TEMPLES, THEN THAT'S UPTO YOU.
Tikal is certainly a "must see" place as it deserves its reputation for the scale of construction and grandeur of an ancient city so apparent there. There are though several other places that merit consideration for a week's trip within the area. If staying in Flores as a base for discovery, overnight sojourns to Sayaxché, the small town very near the great and rarely seen ruins of El Ciebal, and even further away but very great riverside ruins at Yaxchitlan are worth it for those who like adventure travel. Buses and minivans for these destination depart from Flores/Santa Elena on a regular basis.
There are a variety of colorful birds that can be found among the ruins, but to see them up close it's better to get a little off the trail. We found some rather large birds, which I could not identify in my bird book, squawking at each other in a tree. I did my best to capture their images, but the tree foliage fouled up my auto focus fairly well...Here's the best that I got. I also, captured animals sounds with my iRiver, which is an MP3 player with recording capability. I have pocket sized stereo mic by Sony that I held in my hand to capture the ambient noises of the birds and other wildlife at Tikal. I found more success though such recordings of animal sounds at Yatchitlan and Ceibal (See Sayaxche, Guatemala) where there are few tourists and more animals. Any help in identification of these animals and birds would be greatly appreciated...I believe I have found an ocellated turkey and a black-faced ant-thrush, as per the website linked below...
As we walked around to the front of the Temple of the Giant Jaguar, we could not help but notice a frequent bird call with a very strange and 'jungle-like' sound. It was not long before we spotted the elegantly coloured Oropendola birds swooping down from nearby perches into their favourite leafy tree - located in the middle of the large open space in front of the Temple (second photo). It's branches were laden with a colony of dangling nests used by these large (18-20 inch) birds with their very colourful bright yellow tails. At first glance Oropendola look black, but in the sunshine my binoculars told me that they are actually a deep brown in colour.
The call and habits of the male is described by some naturalists as an "unforgettable song, of wheezing, gurgling and popping sounds. The male, seen in front of the female, will execute a complete somersault around a branch while simultaneously singing this medley of sounds." Sometimes the male will halt his somersault while upside down and stick the bright tail feathers straight up to make sure he is noticed. However, I also read the take of another naturalist on this bird - he says that he believes the male birds spin around the branches because it is FUN and the strange call can loosely be translated into English as "Wheeee!!" Sounds like a typical male to me!
Whatever, we got a lot of fun out of watching and listening to them!
There is a small musuem on the walkway to the ruins, on the right is the Tikal Museum (the sign says "Ceramics Museum (Museo Ceramica)," the official name is the Museo Sylvanus G. Morley,
There is a small entrance fee (it was 10 queztals each when we were there) and almost all the explanations of the objects in the museum are in Spanish, although there are some English translations. Not many people have time to go to this museum, but it is very interesting.
It is called the Ceramics Museum because it is filled with ceramics and artifacts excavated from Tikal. The Travel for Kids website says: "Check out the three long-nosed pale turquoise rain gods, the little figure of the "Old God" from the tomb of "First Crocodile," holding a human head in his hands, an incense burner (the Maya god is wearing an owl headdress), a platter decorated with a flapping fish, a little jade sleeping jaguar."
The picture shows a re-creation of the tomb of Hasaw Chan K'awil , formerly called "Lord Chocolate," showing how the skeleton was discovered, surrounded with jade beads, pearls, ceramics and shells.
It was inside a case with a window.
You will pass by this large inland lake en route to Tikal, it is over 30 kms long stretching from Flores in the west to El Remate in the east.
I was staying in El Remate and had a long view over the water looking westward, perfect for watching the sunset over the calm waters.
The lake is also a popular swimming spot with the locals and tourists, the water is quite warm. Locals also use the lake water for laundry and bathing.
There are organized boat tours that will take you on a 2 hr ride for 100 Q ($12.50 US). There are many birdwatching opportunites. Inquire at your hotel in Flores or at Don David in El Remate.
These Huge and Magestic trees were considered, according to our guide, a gateway to heaven. Its easy to see why. covered with Orchids high up on its broad branches they make the other trees look somehow, just normal
Within the protection of the NAtional Park the wildlife flurishes, All around the park you can see Spider monkies Toucans and most often, wild Turkeys. These are not like North American Turkies, they have impresive multicolored plumage like a peacock. They don't seem overly afraid of people and are fun to look at.
Flores is the town on the island in the middle of Lake Petén Itzá. Santa Elena is the town on the mainland linked to Flores by a narrow causeway seen in second photo.