Trip Start Jun 10, 2012
Trip End Aug 17, 2013

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Where I stayed
Hotel Tikal Inn Tikal National Park
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Guatemala  ,
Friday, October 26, 2012

For two days we traveled to Tikal. There was an option between a plane ride and a 9-hour bus ride, and we chose the plane. On day one we left at 4:00 am from our apartment and got to Tikal at 7:30 in the morning. Tikal is a huge site of Mayan ruins. It was abandoned by the Mayans around the year 900 A.D. for unknown reasons. Then it was left in the huge jungle until discovered in 1848. When it was discovered, it was a bunch of mounds covered with layers of vegetation. Now, many temples are still covered with plantlife. Excavation is still going on. There are many temples in Tikal, including hundreds of smaller ones. More, still, are untouched in the vast jungle where we are unable to reach them. The temples are all constructed of limestone blocks. The tallest one, temple IV, towers at a height of 230 feet to the top of its roof comb. We were able to climb this one on the newely-built wooden stairs to the side of it. It is a beautiful view from the top. There are 3 or so other temples that are tall enough to stick out from the top of the canopy, and we had a good view of them. We also had good view of the lush jungle that seemed to go on forever. The first day in Tikal, we had a tour guide (with two other people) and the second day we were on our own. Most tours just go straight to the famous Main Plaza of Tikal, but our tour guide (Carlos) took us to all of the large temples. Carlos told us that before Tikal was discovered, there was a legend of a lost city in the jungles of Guatemala. So people searched, and they found Tikal! It was founded a national park in May 1955 and was the first protected area in Guatemala. They have found no remains of any bones in Tikal except for the tombs of royalty. That is why archeologists aren't sure of the population. They estimate it had from 10,000 to 90,000 inhabitants. All of the temples we saw were amazing! They are so ancient and massive. Most of them are being redone to how they were thought to be originally. Tikal also has some ballcourts, where the Mayans played a ball game called tlatchli. Carlos told us that the winners and the losers were sacrificed. The losers were just killed for the gods, but for the winners they had a special ceremony. It was an honor for them, and they believed with the ceremony they would become immortal in their next life.
On day two I woke up at 4:00 am again. There was a sunrise tour and lots of people were hiking in the jungle. I didn't go on the tour, but the howler monkeys were yelling at the people that were walking in their territory. Like dogs. They may not be huge, but they are loud! This day we just walked around the ruins again. In the beginning, there are two trails. We went on the opposite one we did yesterday. There was absolutely no one going on that trail except us. It was a lot better because there was more wildlife. A little ways into the trail we saw some strange animals. They were like anteaters because they had long noses and were eating bugs out of the ground. But they looked like racoons. 15 minutes into the trail, Soph suddenly remembered what she had read on the internet. She said that this trail was very dangerous and there were tons of reported robberies on it! That must have been why nobody was going on it. We were all alone. Fortunately, we got out with no robberies. Then we spent the rest of the day re-visiting our favorite temples and walking around. There are tons of monkeys in Tikal; howlers and spider monkeys. We could never see the howler monkeys, but the spider monkeys were all over in the trees. When we were alone on the trail, they were above us in the trees- following us. We read a sign that they liked to poop on peoples' heads, so we kept moving so they couldn't get a clear target.
Tikal is beautiful, and I would definitely recommend going there. If you're visiting Guatemala, it's a must! People who have visited Machu Picchu say it is hardly as amazing as Tikal. I'll know soon- I'm going there in December. It was definitely the highlight of my visit to Guatemala.
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