Exceptionally easy to fall in love with kind of place!

Published: February 1st 2015
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It is no secret that we love ancient civilisations. If you follow our blog you already know that we would trade any modern city break for a historical site visit. Visiting Central America was no different. If you ask us today what was the most memorable Mayan site we would say Tikal with no hesitation. Why? Well, it is a combination of things but I would say for the discovery part mostly. You truly do feel like an explorer when you enter the vast jungle of the Guatemalan rainforest in Tikal. You immediately think what it must have been like when this site was discovered? Would we want to be the explorers’ shoes? Hell yeah!!! Let’s start from the beginning though.

It was really hard for us to leave Antigua. We rarely stayed in one place for so long during our RTW, so I guess we got sentimental. However, we were conscious of the upcoming end of our trip and with only 3 weeks left we had to make a decision. It was either more Guatemala or beach time in Mexico. The later seemed like a better idea, since we were not sure when would be the next time we actually visit some exotic destination.

We did our research, planned the route and hopped on a rather expensive night bus to Flores ($80 or 2). Of course we could have done it cheaper but this road is supposed to be known for robberies and we did not want to take any chances at this stage of our trip. No, we were not overreacting…we just wanted to finish this trip with no problems what so ever. Imagine if we lost our electronics at this stage? All of our photos would have been lost!

Anyhow, we got on the secure bus (non-stop) and woke up in Flores just when the sun was rising. What a view that was over the Lago (lake) de Peten Itza? We have seen so many and yet this wonder of nature amazes us every time. We looked around and saw a beautiful resort town with hotels and restaurants and all the tourist infrastructure needed. Right, let’s get out of here then, we though!!! We found some ATM, coffee and a bus which took us to the village of El Remate of the way to Tikal National Park. This was more of the kind of place
selfie selfie selfie

we take such photos in every place we visit...always from the hand....
we would like :-)

We found a nice cottage in the Hotel Sun Breeze (Q100 , around $15 a night), cooked some food and relaxed. It was rather hot to walk in the middle of the day so we only emerged in the evening for the sunset and some yummy food. It is difficult to describe how quiet this place was. There was completely nothing going on, people would sit on their verandas drinking and chatting, women gathered by the lake to wash clothes and gossip and we just sat at the shore and observed. We were the only tourists there (probably the rest were in the enclosed hotels) and nobody seemed to have minded us being there. We got nothing but friendly looks and smiles.

We noticed that all the guesthouses had sunrise tours advertised for like $50 a head. It seemed strange as I read somewhere that catching sunrise in Tikal is rather difficult. It’s a rainforest in the end and the morning mist is a common thing. Apart from that there is a very easy way to get to the park as shuttle buses and private minibuses run from Flores to Tikal from 5:30 in the morning. That was exactly part of our plan.

At 5:30, still in complete darkness we were already waiting by the road and must have caught the first transport available. No tourists again but park workers heading to work. It is around 25km to the park from the village so we arrived just in time for opening. As expected it was very misty so with no chance for the sunrise we parked ourselves in one of the cafés to have some breakfast and look at the maps. And then it was only exploring. The historic site is massive (around 6km2) and it takes a lot of time to visit around, at least to those who like this sort of stuff.

We took our time, visiting each of the mighty, steep-sided temples rising high above the tree canopy. There was nobody around us most of the time and we felt like explorers, looking for a new discovery, getting lost in the complex. We climbed every temple, plaza, steps, courtyard we were allowed. We respected the rules although in some instances we were tempted for the great view or picture. We walked staircases, looked into chambers and tried to imagine what used to happen in this place. When the view was great we simply sat down and admire. This place has a certain charm to it and it is not only for the architecture and well preserved buildings. Also the jungle around temples, the distances between them and the mysterious atmosphere make it all incredible.

Every guidebook will tell you which temple to climb for best views and pictures but I guess it is up to an individual to find their own. We loved them all but the Great Plaza and the Acropolis would be our top choices. Most people who visited on that day went straight to the tallest Temple IV. Some asked us for directions and did not even want to know and seemed to care what else there is to see. How sad is that? Some came wearing flip-flops (after seeing people climbing Machu Picchu in flip-flops it does not surprise us any more) or mid-heel shoes so we assumed their trip was only for a photo or ticking the box of ‘I've been there’… we are not judging, just feeling sorry for them as they have missed so much…..

We spent around 6 hours exploring and just when we were leaving, plenty of tour buses arrived…..lucky us to have such an amazing place nearly to ourselves!!!

Additional Note - Summary of Guatemala:

• 14 days, stayed in 2 towns

our favorite landscape: the jungle between Flores and Mexican border (will elaborate more in the next blog)

our favorite activity: climbing temples in Tikal

our favorite experience: watching preparations for Semana Santa

our favorite thing about Guatemala: the fresh food and friendly people

our total cost per day: 48£/72$ per day for both of us including Spanish Course in Antigua

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


1st February 2015

welcome back!
I'm so happy you are blogging again!
2nd February 2015

hey Denidax
thank you so much:-) we are happy as well as it has been way too long!! B&T
1st February 2015
The Grand Plaza

Great adventure!
How wonderful that you made the long trek to Tikal, got there early before the tour buses (yikes!), climbed all the pyramids and properly explored the place! Love the B & W shot that looks as if maybe you were one of the first explorers, and well as again seeing those little, long-tailed bandits, the coati, which I only saw at Iguasu Falls. 37 ago, as a student, I lived in a hammock and worked there and in the jungle with archaeologists for six weeks. So much has changed (Flores, a tourist town?), but with your intrepid approach, you also got to see the real thing! Well-done!
2nd February 2015

Keep them coming...
you are almost done. And the TB rule is that you can't go on another trip until you finish blogging the last one...just kidding!
2nd February 2015

thanks :-)
That is one great rule!!! The plan is to finish them soon as we have so much more to blog about from our 2014 travels plus 2015 trips are planned already as well :-) B&T
3rd February 2015

Nice Blog
Nice blog and photos. I did Tikal 18 months ago and have fond memories. You will both be pleased to hear that I took walking shoes with me :)
3rd February 2015

Nice Blog
Nice blog and photos. I did Tikal 18 months ago and have fond memories. You will both be pleased to hear that I took walking shoes with me :)
5th February 2015

Hi Alan
thank you, that is very nice of you:-) yes, the remark on the shoes was just for an extra humour but to be honest some people could not be bothered with seeing how great this place was:-) B
7th February 2015

2 years 2 long!
Please don't wait two years to write another blog! Tikal has been on our want to see list for years but your blog makes it feel more urgent. Thanks for sharing your impressions. We are glad you left the beach for a bit more exploring.
9th February 2015

Hi Dave and Merry J
I only just realised how long it was, really!!! Time flies and we have so much to catch up on:-) New adventures are planned already and we have not even told the end of the story, not to mention the fab 2014 travels!!! yes, the exploring comes first always but beach blogs are to come as well!!! B

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