Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites of the Mayan World. It’s just over the border from Belize and we ride to Tikal National Park on the same day we cross the border. We plan to camp inside the Park at the Jaguar Inn and get our money’s worth as the entry fees are a bit steep. It costs 150 GTQ ($20 USD) per day per person to get into the park, and then we pay an additional 100 GTQ ($14USD) per person per day to get into the ruins themselves which are about 20 miles into the interior. There aren’t many options as far as cafes or places to stay and prices are set at a tourist level, which means expensive compared to what I’ve been used to in some other places. So much for the budget. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site though and it’s a must see, so here we are.
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We decide to stay two nights since it’s late the day we arrive and opt to take both a guided sunset hike and a guided sunrise hike the following morning which means a very short night in between. Cesar, our guide from the Jaguar Inn, is incredible. He points out all sorts of wildlife along the way. We see spider monkeys on the evening walk and hear howler monkeys in the distance.
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We see a few toucans in the trees.
And some new animals for me – a cousin of the raccoon and a big rodent.
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He explains how the temples were constructed using locally quarried limestone and a mortar made of ground stone (quick lime) and rubber tree sap. The gum was harvested here in the 1800s and that led to the discovery of Tikal in 1848. You can still see the slash marks in some of the trees, scars from the harvest process.
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We hike to Temple 5 this evening and later come out at the Gran Plaza and hike above the northern plaza to watch the sunset near Temple 4, the one shown in a Star Wars sequel.
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The view from Temple 2 of Temple 1 is incredible.
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Tikal is enormous, covering acres and acres of jungle. There is a small scale model at the visitor center that shows what they have uncovered so far, but that’s only a small fraction of what they think is here.
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Both days we wander through various complexes of the grounds…
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Ok, “they” nailed it with this one…Tikal is definitely a “must see”.

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