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Published: June 10th 2018
Flores at sunset
Flores is our last stop in Guatemala and we hope that we have left the best to last as this is our base for visiting the Mayan city of Tikal. As with many of these ancient sights it has become popular to go for sunrise, but here, that’s only really feasible during the winter months. They also charge a whopping 100Q extra for the privilege on top of an already significant 150Q entrance fee.
I’m happy to have escaped from Antigua and though we pass through the outskirts, to have avoided Guatemala City altogether. We have a long day on a bus to reach Flores and arrive just after dark but this still gives us time to book a shuttle to take us to Tikal the next day leaving at 8am and returning at 3pm. Flores is a very pleasant little town set on an island in a lake. You can walk round the whole island in less than 20 minutes. It’s a bit of a tourist mecca but that means there are plenty of good options for places to stay and to eat.
Tikal is best known for its very steep sided pyramids and also for its atmospheric
Tikal grand plaza
setting. Although the main pyramids have been restored the areas between have been left as jungle. The view from the highest pyramid (number IV) towards the main plaza is of the tops of pyramids poking out from what seems an endless sea of jungle. This classic view has been used in several major films including Star Wars.
The natural jungle here also means that this is as much a wildlife reserve as a historical site. The bird life is everywhere and we see spider monkeys, though they generally keep to the higher tree branches.
It’s hard to say whether Tikal is better than other Mayan cities, such as Chichen Itza, as it is probably a question of personal preference, but I certainly enjoyed the day here. Another unexpected plus is that it doesn’t feel at all crowded, partly I suspect due to the relatively remote location, but also because the site is very extensive.Tikal is definitely my highlight of Guatemala, though I suspect I’ll remember the country as much for the volcano eruption as anything else.
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