Tarantulas (Theraphosidae) are a well known family within the suborder of spiders tarantula species (Mygalomorphae). Many types of reaching a proper body height in comparison with other spinning. A number of species is kept in a terrarium at home.
Tarantulas are relatively harmless despite their size. Most species are not very fast, non-toxic to humans and not aggressive, a bite in humans is similar to a wasp sting. There are exceptions that are particularly toxic and very fast and also directly attacks which they are regarded as aggressive. Tarantulas are perceived by many feared by the size and hairy body.
There are over 900 species that occur worldwide but mainly live in tropical and subtropical areas. Most species occur in North, Central and South America, in Africa and Asia are common species in Europe and finally only two living species.
Warning, it looked VERY CONFUSING to try to arrange a trip from Belize to Tikal on your own---its pretty far from the Belizean border and was basically in the middle of no where. The border crossing looked a bit complex---and I have made several land crossings myself (Morocco/Argentina & Uruguay/ Brazil & Argentina) and this by far looked overly involved. Also, there are tons of incidents of tourists getting mugged on the way to Tikal from Belize.
SOME WOODEN STEPS YOU CAN CLIMB UP TO TEMPLES CAN BE STEEP PLUS COULD BE DAMP IF IT HAS BEEN RAINING. TAKE IT EASY UP THE STEPS AS YOU COULD SLIP.
AS FAR AS I REMEMBER, THERE WAS ONE PYRAMIAD YOU ARE ALLOWED TO CLIMB WITHOUT THE WOODEN STEPS BUT TAKE CARE WHEN GOING UP OR DOWN AS THE STEPS ARE VERY STEEP!
ALSO, TAKE CARE WHEN AT THE TOP OF ANY PYRAMIAD AS THERE ARE NO GUARD RAILINGS.
If you are planning to hoof it around Tikal, as almost everybody seemed to be doing (there are a few roads where people were being driven, but I don't know who was paying for that), you had best be in reasonable physical condition! The Mayans liked to build their Temple sites on higher elevations, so you will find yourself headed uphill on the trails as you enter the Park on the various footpaths. Combine walking these miles of footpaths with the tropical humidity and temperatures of 31+ C (~90+ F), plus further climbing if you want to explore individual structures, and you have yourself quite a workout! We made sure we had water bottles with us at all times!
I wore strap-on sandals during our mid-day walk and noticed several occassions when my ankles wanted to turn over on the uneven surface of rocks and roots on the trail system. For the cooler sunset and morning walks, I found that a good pair of sneakers were more comfortable, but ankle-supporting ones would be even better. This photo example of jungle roots on the Maler Causeway trail, as we returned from the Complex P to the Complex R area, is extreme but it gives you some idea of what you could face. On this particular section, we had a good listen to the Black Howler Monkeys sounding off with their loud territorial calls - they sounded quite close, but their calls travel long distances and the dense jungle prevented an actual sighting. I even tried to get them to respond to me, as I had seen one of the keepers at the Belize Zoo successfully do, but I guess it takes practise!
With Tikal National Park being surrounded by miles of jungle, the animals you find here tend to be a bit on the wild side when compared to tourist destinations in more accessable locations. I know that, at both the Brazil and Argentine sides of Iguazu Falls, the Coatimundis (a member of the Racoon family) can be quite aggressive because they have been conditioned to EXPECT to receive food from the thousands of tourists who pass through (even though signs warn against this practise). However, at this more remote Tikal location, we came across two different groups of Coatis who basically ignored us. There was a family of about 7-8 animals, including very young ones, snooping around on one of the trails as they poked their long snouts into holes in the ground which they had dug. We moved past quite slowly, taking photos, and they hardly gave us a second glance as they went about their business. It was good to see that they were still looking for food in the traditional way!
As depicted in the map on my 'General' tips, the ~3000 structures in the 6 square mile area of Tikal are located in the middle of the tropical jungle of the Yucatan lowlands. That means two things - there are a lot of trails through the jungle as you walk from one set of monuments to another and there are also a lot of trails that keep on going into nowhere if you are not careful about what you are doing. Normally, things are marked quite well, but just be careful that you don't get a little carried away with the joke. Even though things are sign-posted, unless you have a site-map of some sort with you, the network of trails can be confusing (I found that the Tikal section of our "Moon Handbook on Belize" had a good enough map for me to use in conjunction with the signage).
When originally built, the major temples of Tikal were interconnected by a set of wide stone 'causeways', now named after some of the early archeologists who rediscovered the site. Presently, the major causeways are nothing more than wide earthen trails through the jungle, with not much to be seen in the way of stoneworks. Here, on our second day of explorations, we have finished with the huge Temple IV at the western end of Tikal and are taking this off-the-beaten-track causeway along the northwest side toward the less touristy area of Complex P temples. Along the way, a Falcon suddenly flew across in front of me and landed on a branch beside the trail - so I had to have a good look! We also saw Spider Monkeys in the treetops above, one with a small baby clutching the mother's back as they took the high road over the trail.
After a pleasant night of sleeping under our ceiling fan at the Jungle Lodge, we awoke to have our showers in the separate 'Girls' and 'Boys' facilities in our 'low-end' shared bathroom accommodations. I don't mess around so was soon back where Sue could call out to me from the Girls room, vacant except for herself. Upon entering, she showed me this large spider that she had realized was beside the shower door after she was already in the stall! With her having a case of Arachnophobia, I thought she was quite brave to hold the door closed while she finished the job before quickly darting past the creature and calling for help! Our host at the Trek Stop in Belize had showed us his pet Tarantula spider a few days before (which also was not appreciated by my wife), and this thing was not much smaller. However, when I later described it's looks and habitat to him, he immediately said it was very likely a Wolf Spider, described below from the net:
"Wolf spiders are large hairy spiders, up to 3-4 inches across. Female wolf spiders carry their young on their backs. Except for one group, wolf spiders do not spin webs. They tend to burrow into the earth and hide. They are aggressive, come after their prey and are fast runners. Because of their impressive size and aggressiveness, wolf spiders can easily incite panic. Bites from a wolf spider can cause pain, redness and swelling. The large jaws/fangs can cause a tear in the skin as they bite. Swollen lymph glands may develop. The skin area at the bite may turn black. Swelling and pain can last up to ten days."
Frankly, after reading that, I'm glad I did not know any details when I went in to photograph the Wolf Spider!!
Temple IV is a definate climb up narow and often uneven wodden stairs. It is worth it, I don't care how hot you are or how unsafe the stairs look. The view is not to be missed. The Warning is don't pass it up.
When you enter the park, you will notice the guards armed with machine guns. They are there for a reason...and, it ain't the jaguars. I, personally, did not have any problems in December, 2001. But, in July 2002, I heard about problems at Temple 5. And, in August 2002, about 70 people were stuck within the park during an armed civil disturbance.
Guatemala is a volatile country. The Mayans are fed up with the government. (And, rightly so). However, most of the danger comes from common criminals; they hide behind the "Mayan cause", but they are nothing more than thugs who just want your money.
But, I would go back in a heartbeat. The park is safe between dawn and dusk.
We roamed around the park for 5 hours...and could have did more . We were happy we took a couple of bottles of water with us .There is nowhere to buy water once you start the hike.
Climbing the highest temples at Tikal is not easy. The steps are steep and not very big. If you are out of shape or afraid of heights, you may want to enjoy Templos IV and V from ground level only.
Well, there's no real danger in the Tikal Parque Nacional but once you get off the main roads, you'll be surrounded by thousands of mosquitos.
I couldn't stand it for more than a few minutes..