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Tikal

February 16, 2012

Tikal has the reputation of being the greatest of all the Mayan sites. Tikal was founded around 900BC but it wasn’t until around 250BC that the first major ceremonial structures were erected. It wasn’t until 400AD that Tikal came to be a dominant superpower in the Mayan world and this was through an  alliance with Teotihuacan in central Mexico.

We arrived at the entrance gate to Tikal, which is about 17km from the ruins, at around 1pm. This was too early to buy a ticket for the next day, which you can only buy after 4pm. We parked up at a small restaurant just before the entrance to have some lunch. They had a series of Ziplines here and we thought we should give it a go.

The ziplining was good fun. On the later ziplines I practiced turning upside down and Sarah did a tandem run where you go in a superman position.

Just before 4pm we purchased our tickets for Tikal and made the run in to the actual site. You are timed by the rangers for your journey and must stick to the limit of 40kph.

Once at Tikal there are two camping options and we went to the Jaguar Inn which we had heard was slightly cheaper. It wasn’t the greatest spot in but they had showers, toilets and power for us and it was only a 100 yards from the main park entrance.

As soon as we arrived we headed off to walk round some of the site before dark. Tikal itself is absolutely massive  covering over a square km. This means that to give it a fair go you have to walk at least 6km and a lot of this Is either up or down some fairly steep tracks through the jungle. On top of this a few of the pyramids can be climbed up steep ladders attached to the sides and these top out at 70m.

On our first evening here we visited the central acropolis which has two large pyramids and then walked over to Temple IV which is the largest pyramid. From the top of this pyramid you can see a huge vista as you are above the treetops and the other large pyramids poking up above the trees.

We watched sunset from this pyramid and then had to make our way back quickly through the gloomy jungle to make it back to the truck before it was pitch black.

Just near the base of Temple IV we had seen a big group of coatimundi that were fairly unafraid of people – there must have been around 20 of them.

In the morning we set out for our exploration of the rest of Tikal and we walked round the whole perimeter of the site checking off all the major buildings. There are long stretches of path through the jungle where you don’t see another person or even any buildings.

When we reached the lost world which is a collection of buildings and smaller pyramids we came across an ocellated Turkey which was wandering around between the ruins. A lot more dramatic than the turkeys we are used to.

It took us around 4 hours to complete our tour of Tikal and just as we returned to the truck it started to rain quite heavily.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 17, 2012 12:44 pm

    So green and fresh!! Temple looks magnificent.

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