Must See Destination: Tikal, Guatemala

As you walk through the thick jungle, the temples and pyramids seem to jut from the ground aggressively, making the statement “I was here first.” The awe-inspiring temples located within Tikal, Guatemala are not soon forgotten.

Sprawled across six square miles, Tikal is dotted with what once was a thriving and powerful civilization with temples, homes, and even ball courts. Taking a guided tour through the National Park is like going back in time and seeing how the Mayans were able to create such splendors from such limited resources. You’ll hear stories of wars between Caracol and Tikal, how rulers conquered lands and how spirituality drove their life’s purpose. Some call it one of the most spiritually connected places on earth.

View From Temple IV

You can get lost walking from Temple to Temple, enjoying the wildlife as you go. There is an abundance of howler and spider monkeys, toucans, toucanettes, gray foxes, and even the ever elusive jaguars. Watch the sunset from atop one of the pyramids and listen to the song of birds, especially toucanettes, that sing in rivaling choruses.

Tikal is located 50 miles west of Caracol, Belize and is about 200 miles north of Guatemala City. You can get to Tikal through a guided tour, group tours, private tours or even alone. Pay a fee at the entrance to the National Park and you can wander for the remainder of the day. Note: As soon as the sun sets, they clear the park rather quickly so be prepared to leave.

The best location within this site is on top of Temple IV where you can see the luscious, green jungle below you as well as all of the monuments peeking from the canopy. This view was actually featured in the Star Wars movies. Plan to spend at least an hour here but be aware that there are absolutely no guard rails so stay close to the face of the structure. The edge often seems farther than it is and there is nothing to prevent you from falling.

If you’d like to stay for a couple days to get a better feel for the history and heritage offered, there are multiple options. Look at Tikal Inn Lodge or even camping within the grounds. For hotels off site, prices range from $10/night to $80/night.

Tikal is one of the best locations not only in Guatemala but also within Central America so prepare to be immersed in ancient history, breathtaking views and stunning architecture.


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