Paying a visit to Guatemala’s top attraction, the Tikal Mayan Ruins, is a must for anyone traveling to this enchanting country. However, it can be daunting figuring out the logistics, below we have put together a guide to help simplify things for any first-timers.
Where to stay?
When visiting Tikal, 90% of people stay in the island town of Flores. It has great transport links to Tikal and a lot more going on! Some people choose to stay in hotels nearer the site, but these will set you back a pretty penny and there really is nothing to do other than access the site and listen to the jungle.
Travelling to Tikal
There are a few options when visiting the site from Flores, the best one being simply to book a shuttle bus through one of the numerous travel agencies on Flores island, these take roughly 2 hours. A good price to pay is 60Q for a return (no guide) or 100Q with a guide. We managed to save a few Quetzals by just purchasing a return ticket and paying a guide directly upon arrival. Another option is to use local buses; however, these leave from the mainland, and although slightly cheaper they take over 3 hours, not worth the extra hassle if you ask me!
When to go?
The many travel agencies in Flores offer a variety of tour options, the key ones being Sunrise and sunset tours. For a sunrise tour you leave at 2/3am and reach the park before 6am, entrance to the park before 6am incurs an additional 100Q fee, and for these two options you must have a guide with you. Most agencies will offer a variety of departure times between the sunrise and sunset tours, the most popular being the 4am and 8am. I opted for the 4am, arriving at the site for 6am. It had been particularly foggy, so the sunrise hadn’t been visible, and it meant avoiding the additional 100Q, it also had the added advantage of being much cooler as our visit ended around midday just as the 8am’ers were in full swing.
Guide or not to Guide?
I really wasn’t sure about a guide, I love to go it alone and explore by myself in my own time. However, this is one place that I made an exception, Tikal is HUGE! In the past people have gotten lost for days just looking round it… Our guide took us on the perfect circuit hitting all the major architectural giants and allowed us plenty of time to explore each by ourselves. He was very knowledgeable (considering the lack of real knowledge we have about this era) and was able to point us in the direction of some amazing wildlife, including spider monkeys, toucans and one hell of a tarantula! In summary, get a guide.
I hope this short guide has helped answer a few of your questions, if you have further questions or suggestions leave them in the comments below!
When I came to the decision that I wanted to travel, initially I had no clue what I was doing!? There was no guide and no obvious place to start… After days of searching the internet for everything I might possibly need, I set off on my journey. Only to find that flights several days later had been half the price, I’d massively overpacked and my accommodation although cheap was less than ideal, and so the ‘Simple Travel Steps’ seed was planted. The site is first and…. Read More