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GUATEMALA

TIKAL NATIONAL PARK

December 2013 • Canon 60D camera


UNESCO World Heritage site
Tikal National Park

Internal Flight

GUA

La Aurora
International Airport

TAG

1h

FRS

Flores International
Airport

Visiting Tikal National Park was not on our itinerary for Guatemala. We originally planned to spend 2 days in the city of Antigua. But after some enquiries we found it was possible to do a day trip from Antigua to Tikal via an internal domestic flight. Catching an early morning flight from La Aurora International Airport, it was an hour flight to Flores Airport. There we met our tour leader for the day. The weather was nice and hot with blue skies.

Tikal National Park is a huge place with over 3000 structures. It was not something we could see in one day. Our tour leader would take us to visit the key places and temples for the day. Tikal has some of the most famous Mayan architectural structures to be seen. At the entrance of the park, you can see a scale model of the extensive site. Believed to be an ancient Mayan city, the architecture at the site dates back to the 4th Century BC.


Ceiba

Ceiba pentandra




Temple I

Temple of the Janguar, The Great Plaza




Temple II

Temple of the Masks, The Great Plaza




Temple 33

Northern Acropolis, The Great Plaza




Temple 34

Northern Acropolis, The Great Plaza




Temple III

Temple of the Janguar Priest




Views from Temple IV

Temple of the two headed snake

The tallest temple in the park, Temple IV, is 70 metres (230 ft) from the plaza floor level to the top of its roof. It was built in 745 A.D. You need to queue up, to climb a staircase at the side to reach the top of the temple.

It's a lot to climb, but you are rewarded with some awesome views over the jungle canopy with the temple pyramid heads rising through the trees.


Did you know...

Tikal was part of the classic Mayan period (250 CE – 950 CE) which saw the height of maya civilisation in cities such as Chichen Itza and Palenque





Great Pyramid

Mundo Perdido complex




Talud-Tablero Temple

Mundo Perdido complex




East Pyramid

Complex Q




Maler's Palace

Central Acropolis




Structure 5D-43

Central Acropolis




Bat Palace

Palace of Windows




Unexcavated Ruins




Final thoughts

The temples at Tikal were truly impressive! Just like Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat or Palenque, I marveled at how people in the past built such huge buildings with such primitive tools. There is a lot to see in Tikal, but if you want to catch the temple highlights like we did then one day would suffice. If you are someone keen in Mayan history, then you would need to spend more then one day in the park.

It's mosquito central in the park, so pack your insect repellent or wear long-sleeved tops and trousers. The weather in the jungle is very hot and humid, so don't forget to bring plenty of water. In the open areas and if you climb up some of the temples you will need bring sun block, sunglasses and a hat to protect from the sun.


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