Back on the road, we took a private bus from San Ignacio and crossed the border into Guatemala. Our destination was the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, one of the largest excavated Mayan sites in Central America.
Tikal is an amazing Mayan site which covers an incredible area of the jungle. Like the previous Mayan ruins we visited in Belize, the area is divided into multiple groups and having an experienced guide is highly recommended to help navigate and explain to you of the different areas and structures. Tours tend to stick to the central area where a large amount of pyramids have been unearthed (there are still many that not been excavated – hidden under thick jungle vegetation).
You can also climb Temple 4 for a fantastic view over the jungle which took back this incredible metropolis.
This central part of Tikal can be busy, but for those who want to escape the crowds and are feeling particularly adventurous, a few nights walk north of the central plaza lies a more remote and lesser visited structure. El Mirador is not something to undertake lightly as the 5 days trekking to get there will definitely test even the keenest adventurer, but we are told that the challenge is worth it to see something spectacular. We took our guide’s word for it.
Once you have had your fill of pyramids, temples and jungles, the closest place to stay is the lovely town of Flores. Flores is around 40 miles (65km) from Tikal and is perched on an island with great views over Lake Peten Itza. There are cobbled streets to explore, a cathedral to visit and cafes and restaurants to relax in.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed in Hotel Peten, which had views over the lake plus a restaurant and bar to take in the evening atmosphere.
Flores is a small town and probably wouldn’t warrant a long stay when there is so much to see in Guatemala, but if you are feeling a little worn down, it is definitely a place to go and relax.
- It is definitely worth having a guide here to tell you how the temples were constructed, what they were used for and so on. Guides can be organised with tour companies located in Flores.
- The entrance fee to Tikal National Park is Q150/$22USD, open daily between 6am-6pm.
- Stay within the marked paths and do not venture off path.
- Pack water and snacks there are small drinks stands within the park, but can be pricey.
- There is an exit fee to pay when leaving Belize $30 BZD / $19 USD at land borders and also a 10 Quetzales entry fee into Guatemala. Sometimes the fee is included when flying, check with your airline.