Explore an ancient Mayan city in the rainforests of northern Guatemala. Find out how to get there, where to stay, and what to avoid!
Explore ancient Mayan temples.
Tikal is an ancient Mayan city in the rainforests of northern Guatemala. Tikal flourished between 200 and 850 A.D. and was later abandoned. Its iconic ruins of temples and palaces are definitely worth checking out!
The giant, ceremonial, Lost World (Mundo Perdido) Pyramid and the Temple of the Grand Jaguar. Temple IV is the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas (70m).
Each temple is numbered, or named, and signs in the park make the park relatively easy to navigate.
Staying in Town
This is what 99.9% of travelers do.
Flores is the closest town and is pretty cute. Everyone I know stayed on Flores Island (in the middle of a lake) – it’s built up perfectly for travelers: hostels, budget hotels, adorable restaurants, cute shops to buy souvenirs, smalll convenient stores to buy snacks for the hike or bus ride, etc. (and all are open late). Also, it felt really safe. I walked around at 11pm and didn’t feel any sketchiness at all.
★ Los Amigos » The coolest hostel on the island. The ambiance is AMAZING! You feel like you’re sitting in a jungle, on super chic couches and pillows, eating gouremet pizza and burgers, under glowing antique lanterns. Dorms are about $11 per night (Q80).
★ Cheaper options » There are cheaper places in town (as low as Q40), so if you’re on a budget, just ask around. I stayed in Hotel La Casa de Lancandon for Q40. The space was REALY small and the bathroom was shit, BUT it was cheap and had one of the best views on the island (perfectly faces the sunset with a great two level balcony/restaurant.
♡ What I did: I stayed in the cheap place with the good view, enoyed the sunset and relaxed there for a bit. Then when the sun set, I headed over to Los Amigos to hang out =)
★ Restaurante San Telmo » I spotted this place and was sad that I didnt have time to enjoy it! My bus left at 5am, but it seems like the perfect place to sit and have an espresso! The place looks like a scene from Alice in Wonderlad! So cool! And, again, amazing views with a great balcony!
Camping by Tikal
This is what the other .1% of people do.
There’s a camp site near Tikal that you can stay at for about Q50 (if you have your own tent and sleeping bag) OR you can rent a tent (just the tent, no sleeping bag, and it gets pretty cold).
Apparently there’s a hotel there too with WiFi, so a lot of campers hang out near the hotel and use the WiFi for the night, then sleep in the tent.
♡ I would have totally done this if I had my sleeping bag with me! (It was really cold).
Getting to Tikal
From Flores, it’s about a 1.5 hour drive.
Most shuttles leave Flores around 8am, and leave the park at 3pm (earlier, maybe, but not later).
If you want to be there for “sunrise”, then you’ll have to leave Flores at 3am. However, don’t do that. I asked a few locals and they all said that you never see the sun actually rise – the sky just gets lighter and it’s ALWAYS cloudy that early. They all agreed that the 3am “sunrise” tour is not about great glowing pictures like you might be imagining, but rather hearing the jungle “wake up.” They said the jungle is almost silent at night and then you slowly hear birds and monkeys and whatever other animals there are. So if you’re into that kind of melodic experience, then sure…
♡ Personally, I prefer taking pictures, saving money (see below), and not waking up at 2:30am, so I skipped the “sunrise” tour.
Shuttle there and back should be no more than Q60 total (Q30 there, then Q30 back), ~$8 round trip.
A lot of guys booking the shuttles in Flores like to sell you package deals. For example, to the park, back to Flores, and the next day to Belize for Q200. This price is about right because Q140 (after th Q60 round trip to the park and back) is about $20. To Belize (or to anywhere within 8 hours drive), shouldn’t be more than $20.
♡ I booked this same package deal, but I was able to haggle the guy down to Q160. So Q60 for the park and back (~$8), and Q100 to Belize (~$13).
Q150 (~$20) per person!
Q250 (~$34) per person for sunrise or sunset. If you enter the park after 3pm, then your ticket is good for the next day as well – But, of course, this means getting to the park again… which isn’t bad if you camp there!
Maps will cost you Q20 (~$3) which is absolutely ridiculous being that you just paid $20+ to enter the park… So I asked a guy who actually bought a map if I could see if for a minute, took a quick picture, and then had it on my phone the whole time as a reference.
SAVE THIS PICTURE so you can do the same! =)
Let’s Hear It!
Have you been here? What did you think? Have I left something out?
Do you WANT to go here? What else would you like to know?
Let me know! And feel free to share with others =)