Tikal

06th of December 2013

The most famous Maya ruins in Guatemala are the ones in Tikal. After having visited the ruins in Copán and Palenque I sort of knew what to expect, although Tikal is quite a bit different in the sense that they are in the middle of the jungle and therefore more remote than Copán and Palenque. Also the ruins themselves as well as the entire area are a lot bigger.

I booked the sunset tour at the Amigo Hostel in Flores for only GTQ 255 / 24,29 € which included the transport from Flores to the ruins (1-1,5h) and back as well as the guide and the admission. Once we got to the ruins the guide gave us a brief overview over the huge archeological site. Apparently quite a bit has not been excavated in order to not disturb the wildlife any further and to keep the primary forest as it is today. What I liked particularly about Tikal where the half excavated temples. Some of the pyramids have been cleaned up from soil and trees on one side and left as they were once discovered on the other. This really made it easy to imagine what the area looked like before archeologists started to “clean it up”. It also shows how unbelievable much work it must have been to excavate the site.

Apart from that I found Tikal to have the biggest and highest pyramids of the three sites I had visited until then. Sadly it is not permitted to climb most of them. Our guide said that they were closed to the public due to safety concerns after a lady had fallen to her death a couple of years back. I wouldn’t be surprised if conserving the temples from excessive wear because of too many tourists climbing them played a big role when that decision was made – which is a good thing I guess.

In general the entire site is rather impressive with a big variety of different kinds of ruins that once served certain purposes. But the highlight was definitely climbing one of the biggest pyramids for the sunset with a great view over the jungle and other parts of the site. Normally we would’ve only been allowed on the side of the pyramid that was NOT facing the sun since the opposite side was currently being restored by archeologists. But our guide suggested that we could bribe the guards with GTQ 20 / 1,90€ each and that they would then let us go to the other side of the pyramid from where we could see the actual sunset. I’m pretty sure that our guide pocketed some of that cash himself. Although the sunset was well worth spending that money, I am normally not a big fan of bribing officials. Especially since that seems to be a regular thing in Tikal as other travelers had told me that they were offered the same “opportunity” a few days before.

The ruins in Tikal were in my opinion the most fascinating ones. Not only because of the incredible size of the site but especially because of the untouched jungle setting they are in. So if I had to choose to visit either the ruins in Copán, Palenque OR Tikal, I would definitely choose Tikal.

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1 Comment

  1. Magical! Absolutely loving the photos 🙂

    Reply

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