Tikal is a legendary Mayan city located in the northern wilderness of Guatemala. There are many reasons why this is a can’t miss bucket-list destination. This site has some of the best preserved and most iconic ruins found anywhere in Mexico or Central America. It was one of the most important cities during the Mayan Classical Period and has incredible pyramids which you can climb. By the time we visited here it had been on our list of things to do for far too long.
Our adventure began in Playa del Carmen and our destination was Guatemala. The trip to get here was an ordeal on its own, but we made it! We arrived early in the morning on a rainy overcast day. We were not able to see the sunrise, but we still had the ruins mostly to ourselves. It certainly felt like an Indiana Jones adventure, exploring the lost city in the jungle. We felt like we were chased out when the tropical rainstorm forced us to dudge the puddles on the way back to the parking lot.
Aside from the sounds of the howler monkeys in the trees, it was very quiet. In the afternoon, more busses began to arrive, and certain “popular” temples were surrounded by tourists, but there are plenty of ruins to get lost amongst. There are many reasons why we fell in love with the Mayan Ruins at Tikal.
What makes Tikal so amazing?
On of the top highlights of Tikal was that you can still climb to the top of some of the temples. The views from the top of these temples are unparalleled, especially the views of the temples poking above the jungle canopy.
Many of the temples are still covered by dirt and overgrown with trees. Archeologists are still to this day discovering more structures in the jungle. The size of the city is expected to grow exponentially using new discovery techniques such as LIDAR. It is an ongoing excavation.
At times it was hard to find other tourists on the site. The location is quite large, so it’s easy to get lost (and away from other visitors). We often found parts of the ruins to be completely empty of other people. Many of the temples are still just piles of grass and overgrown with trees.
Once the city was abandoned, the jungle quickly took back the city, which is why it remained undiscovered for such a long time.
May the Force be with you
It was one of the locations where parts of the first Star Wars movie was filmed back in 1977. The ruins was used to represent Yavin base, where the rebels staged their last stand against the Death Star. As a big Star Wars fan, this was one of those destinations that you just have to see with your own eyes.
Climbing to the top of Temple IV, you can almost picture the Millenium Falcon taking off and flying off on an adventure to save the Galaxy.
While the climb up any staircase is never fun, and this was quite the trek, especially with the heat and humidity. The views from the top were worth it. The view from the top of Temple V is definitely one of the main reasons you want to visit here.
Where is Tikal and How do you get there?
Tikal is located in the jungles of norther Guatemala. It is quite remote, but it’s popularity means there are plenty of places to explore nearby. The Mayan Ruins of Tikal is quite remote, located in the dense jungle, makes visiting so much more exciting. We drove from Mexico, and had to cross several borders – from Mexico through Belize and into Guatemala and back again.
Driving to Guatemala should have been easy, but we struggled with the execution. This was both because of our own mistakes and some external forces which forced us to alter our plans. This mis-adventure was deserving of it’s own cautionary tale; How to Rent a Car in Mexico and Drive to Tikal.
While not everything went as we would have planned, it all became part of the adventure. The following pictures will certainly prove the hardships we endured were worth the effort.
Firstly, the View from the top of Temple V
The Ruins of Tikal:
Looking up to Temple V. 2018.