I had seen the pictures, marvelled at its giant towering temples that stood tall above the jungle canopy and now I was here standing at the spot where the pictures had been taken of an ancient Mayan city in all its glory. This was Tikal…
If you’re visiting Belize and have two days to spare, Tikal is a must. It is so easy to just nip across the Belizean border and visit the most popular Mayan site in Guatemala. Or you can just fly instead, then take the 90 minute drive from the airport in Flores, the capital of Peten where Tikal is situated.
The site comprises of many temples including the Great Plaza, the North and Central Acropolis and the Lost World with some temples still being uncovered today.
The oldest part of Tikal dates back to 850BC and was built for astronomical purposes. Each structure was built in five stages and the tallest one is temple 4 that stands 82 metres high and has the iconic view.
But Tikal isn't the only Mayan site to be found in Peten. In fact the whole place is an archeological site with local people living on top of hidden Mayan structures. Maize has even been planted on top of one pyramid!
The whole area is protected and home to 26 lakes and wild cats such as jaguars and pumas as well as the coati, part of the raccoon family. These furry creatures are easily seen around the ancient site of Tikal climbing the trees looking for tarantulas and scorpions. If that is their chosen diet then i'm really happy to see lots more of them!
My trip to Tikal was booked through Maya World Tours who organised my transfers from the border and overnight accommodation at the Hotel Maya International, just a short walk away from the colourful town of Flores.