In the heart of the Guatemalan jungle, hidden by lush vegetation stands Tikal – an impressive Mayan complex just waiting to be explored while travelling around the world. As you approach the towering pyramids, you will probably first encounter the sheer noise made by the local community of howler monkeys that have made Tikal their home. You will then notice exotic birds taken flight above the jungle canopy before stumbling on your first towering pyramid.
Tikal means “place of voices” and as the largest Mayan site known and studied, it offers enough history and archeology to spend a day at leisure. The most-striking features of this Mayan complex is by far its towering steep-sided temples that rise to heights of more than 45m.
One of the most-impressive sites within the complex is the Major Plaza, which is surrounded by Temples I and II, the North and Central Acropolis as well as a series of altars. Others include the Temple I, also known as the Big Jaguar Temple which rises 45 meters high above the Major Plaza and the Temple IV, where you will be able to climb until the crest base to have an aerial view of Tikal. While you sit atop Tikal, take a moment to listen to the noises emanating from the jungle beneath – it is nothing like the city.
You can easily visit Tikal as a road trip from Flores or El Remate, or if you are in Belize, from either San Ignacio or Hopkins Bay. The road from Belize to Tikal will give a glimpse of the beauty residing in Guatemala. Although the grounds are large enough never to feel crowded, you might want to consider exploring Tikal at sunrise to see this Mayan site come to life alongside nature. Tikal Guatemala should definitively be added to your ultimate bucket list.