Tikal Travel Guide

Tikal Overview

Deep in the heart of Guatemala’s Peten region and set amongst a luxuriant jungle is the ancient Maya city of Tikal. Dating back to 200BC the mystical city that prospered until cAD900 is one of the worlds most important archaeological sites. Those who come here do so to explore the magnificent temples, palaces and ceremonial stages and to decide for themselves what its true purpose was and why it was so abruptly abounded, something that has been perplexing historians and archaeologists since its excavation in 1956. Regardless of opinion this is one of the must sees for anyone traveling through Guatemala.

 
Without doubt the ancient city is gigantic and to get the most out of a visit at least 2-days are recommended. That said many do arrive on whistle-stop tours from nearby Flores and even Belize. The ruins are part of Parque Nacional Tikal, a national park rich in flora and fauna, and those staying overnight will find a small number of hotel and lodges close to the park entrance. These tend to be the most expensive places, therefore, most choose to stay at either Flores or El Remate, two small towns home to hotels, restaurants and minimal amenities. To reach the park and ruins, local buses depart regularly from Flores and El Remate and it is also possible to fly in from Guatemala City. Those coming from Belize City do so by air or on a long, drawn out bus ride.

Things to do in Tikal

Tikal National Park - The largest ancient Maya city in the Americas is the number one reason for visiting Tikal, comparable in importance to the ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico. Set amidst a verdant jungle and dominated by five colossal pyramid temples, the site is shrouded in mystery and the atmosphere surrounding the city is truly entrancing. The site is enormous and to do it justice allow a minimum of 2-days, using one for a guided tour and the other to return and explore alone. The park is open daily from 6am to 6pm, although stays can be extended at the Stelae/Litico Museum for sunset and nocturnal animal watching. Entrance fee is US$20, with those entering after 3pm being allowed re-entry the following day. The park can get extremely hot so bring plenty of water and a hat.

 
Museums in Tikal - Although full of interesting information and artefacts the museums should take second place to seeing the ruins themselves. With time to spare then by all means pass by.
Museo Tikal - At the main entrance this museum houses an impressive one-room collection of artefacts including ceramics and jade jewellery. Open daily 9am - 5pm (4pm on weekends).
Museo Litico - Inside the Visitor Centre is a museum exhibiting stelae found around the ancient city. Check out the map explaining the relationship of the Tikal ruins. Open daily 9am - 5pm.
 
There is a one-off entrance fee of Q20/US$2.65 that grants entry to both museums.
 
Tikal Canopy Tour - A fun and interesting way to explore the thriving jungle is through Canopy Tikal, allowing visitors to whiz across the treetops on zip-lines and hanging bridges. This is the best way to see the myriad flora and spot toucans, parrots and monkeys at play. These activities are suitable for travelers of all ages. 

Hotels in Tikal

Jaguar Inn - Best value hotel offering large spotless rooms with verandas and camping grounds for those on a budget. Tel (502) 7926 0002.

La Casa de Don David - Good value and welcoming lodge-resort at nearby El Remate. Tel (502) 7928 8469.
Hotel Del Patio - Comfortable rooms in an old colonial villa with pleasant courtyard patio and swimming pool. Tel (502) 2459 5727.
Jungle Lodge - Pick of the bunch inside the ruins park offering live-able suites and bungalows and an inviting pool. Tel (502) 2477 0570.
Tikal Inn - Also within the ruins, this hotel has comfortable accommodation, good food and an internet café. Tel (502) 7926 1917.
Hotel Camino Real - 5-star retreat situated 45-minutes from the park and 30-minutes from El Remante. Tel (502) 7926 0209.

Tikal Weather

Tikal Travel Resources

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