Planning a trip to Guatemala? Make sure to allow time for visiting Tikal, the best Mayan ruins in the country! Read on to learn about my experience and tips for visiting this incredible national park.
Day 1: Visiting Tikal
Our much-anticipated excursion to the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal had a rocky start. Due to some coordination issues within our group, we left Antigua at 5 even though our flight left at 7 from Guatemala City! So we arrived at the airport only 30 minutes before our flight and were told that we were too late.
We found this very strange considering that the airport was completely empty. After all, it can’t take more than 30 minutes to walk through a metal detector and step onto the plane, especially with no lines and such a tiny, compact airport! The whole thing seemed rather ridiculous to us, but that’s how life is when you’re traveling in other countries! So, we spent the night in a hotel in Guatemala City (the capital) and tried to find some dinner! We didn’t get to bed until 11 pm, and then we had to wake up at 3:30 am to go to the airport and reschedule our flights!
Day 2: Visiting Tikal
I woke up at 3:30 am and we left the hotel at 3:45 for the airport. Once there, they finally confirmed that there were 9 available seats of the next flight to Tikal. Why they weren’t willing to check this the night before, I’ll never know… After over an hour, our group leader was able to reschedule everything, and our flight left at 6 am. We flew in a tiny propeller plane that could barely handle the turbulence. In fact, one of the overhead compartments flew open during descent, and several passengers were hit by falling suitcases!!! After a very bumpy landing in Flores at 7 am, we grabbed a quick snack and began the hour-long drive to Tikal National Park.
We had our official breakfast at the park before setting out to explore the ruins scattered throughout the jungle. The ruins were built by the Mayans starting in 300 BC, and were occupied until 900 AD. So, they were occupied for 1,200 years, but no one’s lived there for 1,100 years!
The most magical moment of visiting Tikal was when we climbed the tall ruin in the park. After a grueling climb, we suddenly found ourselves far above the canopy with a staggering view of the jungle stretching untouched to the horizon.
We saw several pizotes (cat/racoon-like creatures), bats, crocodiles, toucans, parrots, some crazy looking turkeys, along with plenty of other wildlife.
Then we had a very late lunch (at 4 pm!) before driving back to the airport in Flores. At the airport in Guatemala City I said goodbye to my mom, who would fly home early the next morning. I was so grateful she could have the experience of visiting Tikal too! Then we drove back to Antigua and I promptly went to bed and didn’t wake up until 1 pm the next day. And that was only because my host mom woke me up for lunch!
Want to know more about my travels in Guatemala? Click here to read about my previous excursion or keep your eyes out for next week’s post about another Guatemalan adventure. Or, you can click here to read about all of my travel trips and adventures in Latin America!
Happy Travels! XOXO Ann