Tikal is just two hours away from the Belizean border and remains one of the most popular attractions in Guatemala. Almost any traveler who visits the western part of Belize (San Ignacio Town) travels to Guatemala for the day to visit this majestic Maya site.
Brief Background of Tikal
To fully appreciate how impressive Tikal is it’s best to have a little background on the Mayan site. While today it is an extensive archaeological site in northern Guatemala, in it’s time Tikal was a major city of the Mayans. The history of settlement at Tikal stretches back as far as 1000 BC, but the earliest parts of the site you’ll likely see date back to the 4th century B.C. The city of Tikal was at its most developed from 200 to 900 AD before it was entirely abandoned shortly after that. Over time Tikal became lost to the immense Guatemalan jungle. Although locals remained aware of its existence, it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that Tikal was fully surveyed. And now, amongst the Mayan ruins of today, Tikal had become one of the best archaeologically understood sites in Central America.
Best Time to Visit Tikal
Making the most of your trip to Tikal means taking several things into account, chief among them is the timing of your visit. Since you’re going to be spending quite a lot of time outdoors at Tikal, getting the best weather possible is going to make a big difference. Avoiding crowds of other tourists has its perks too, from maintaining the remote atmosphere, to saving a little on room rates.
Guatemala in general has two seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. Visiting during the rainy season, which runs from May to October, isn’t ideal as showers regularly come during the afternoons and last for hours. Additionally, Tikal can get quite humid at this time of year, making your visit all the more taxing. During dry season Tikal is at its hottest, especially during the months of April and May.
The other factor to keep in mind when planning your visit is the crowds of the high season. In Guatemala high season runs from December through March, although it’s at its peak during the weeks either side of Christmas and Easter. Greater demand for accommodation at these times means prices are likely to be higher than other times of the year. All of this means that the best time to visit Tikal is during the months of February and March, when the weather is a little cooler and drier, and prices are slightly more affordable.
How Long to Visit Tikal
One of the other key factors to planning a trip to Tikal is knowing how long to spend there. The ruins of Tikal can easily be explored in a single day so most people visit on a day trip from nearby Flores.
The park’s opening hours are from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily, but if you’re visiting on a sunrise tour you’ll be able to enter the park at 4:00 AM.
Have you dreamt of exploring ancient and deserted archaeological sites in the hope of discovering some lost artefact from a past civilisation just like Indiana Jones? If you have then you need to go to Tikal in Guatemala. The abandoned Mayan city is more than a ghost town on a grand scale where the jungle is encroaching on the ruins, it’s a real anthropological conundrum. Where did all the people go? And why?
Why Go? You probably won’t be able to solve the mystery of a disappearing civilisation with just one visit, but you will get a chance to understand what it might be like to be alone in a post-apocalyptic city. Just think, Will Smith and I am Legend, with temple ruins instead of skyscrapers and thankfully, no zombies. There’s not many places in the world you can have an experience like that so go for it.
Skip the Queues. To get full force of that post-appcalyptic feeling, you’ll need to be up early. Book on the frist your of the day,which starts at6am and you’ll be there to watch the sunrise above the jungle canpoy and cast its light on the runis of the abandoned city. Avoid the weekends if you can as Tikal recevies many local visitors then.