A Visit to Tikal

Tikal was the capital of one of the most powerful Mayan kingdoms. The site reached its peak during the Classic Period that ranged from 200 to 900 AD. The city of Tikal was extremely important politically, economically, and militarily. For many people, Tikal is a must visit while in Guatemala. And if you have the time to do so, then Tikal is absolutely worth the effort to get to its remote jungle location.

Historians place the existence of Tikal to go as far back as 400 BC, reaching its peak in the Classic Period at which point the city fell in 562 AD. Tikal was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 and even today, archaeologists are still uncovering some of the temples. 

Tikal is one of the most captivating and enjoyable of the Mayan sites to visit. Getting to Tikal is relatively easy and most tourists are provided with the option of either bus or plane. If flying is not in your budget then simply hop on a bus to Santa Elena which run daily and depart in the morning or at night. The trip is long so stock up on movies and books (and snacks).

Once you have arrived in Santa Elena spend a day or so checking out Flores and its surrounding lake. Flores is colorful and quaint and a wonderful spot for a brief R&R. Most visitors choose to stay in Flores and take day trips to Tikal (which usually include a sunset or sunrise tour). However, if you have the option, it is worth spending the money to stay in the park. Accommodations range from camping, to mid range, to luxurious. By being in the park you can take advantage of sunsets and sunrises (and hopefully get that beautiful shot of the sun peeking above the canopy while exquisitely illuminating the temples). You will also get the opportunity to experience the park after the hoards of visitors have returned to Flores.

Tikal is sunny, hot, humid, and over run with mosquitos so dress accordingly (you are in the jungle after all). While weather conditions may not be the most pleasant (unlike the beautiful weather of Antigua), Tikal is a sight like no other and if given the opportunity, it is a must visit. The magic of the place with surround you. Bring mosquito spray and take lots of photos!