If you are visiting Guatemala, don’t miss Tikal National Park as this is a must see near Flores. It’s two hours driving from the border of Belize and only one hour from the nice village of Flores. It’s listed as UNESCO World Heritage and this is with a reason. Tikal has dozens of acient temples and ruines surrounded by tropical rainforest where the Maya’s used to live. Some are small but there are also very large temples with a magnificient view. As it’s such an impressive place, you expect a lot of tourists but luckily that’s not the case.
We stayed in a mid-range hotel in Flores and woke up early as we had to catch the minivan at 06.00 in the morning. Quickly we put on some clothes and waited in front of the hotel. After 20 minutes no minivan…so I discussed this in my best Spanish with reception, turned out they already left and forgot us?! Great… The hotel arranged another minivan that took us as fast as he could to the minivan that was already on it’s way to Tikal. The minivan was crowded, we had to stand up for almost an hour but we didn’t mind. We were told it was the sunrise tour, but by the time we arrived the sun was already up. So if you really want to see a sunrise you should look for accommodation in Tikal the night before.
When we arrived in the park, we bought a map. The map shows how big the area really is. You can also choose to go with a guide, but I usually don’t like this as it’s always big groups and I like to wander off and take my time. The map is easy to read and we choose to walk to the furthest temple and walk back from there. Walking through this jungle gave me the feeling I was Mowgli from Jungle Book (altough I wasn’t raised by wolves). You hear all the sounds of birds, trees, insects and monkeys. There are some temples where you can climb on and enjoy the view of Tikal and the jungle. Definitely do this! It’s one of the best views I have ever seen.
I was surprised it wasn’t busy at all. Sure, at the large temple complex were groups of tourists but there were many times we didn’t see a person for a long time. We have seen a group of moneys, two snakes, parrots and a toucan. This must have been such a great and holy place for the Maya’s. We headed back with the minivan around 12.30 pm, but there are more scheduled departures so you have plenty of time to discover the complex. Just take your time and enjoy!