Tikal 2 Ways
Located in the Peten region, in a lush rain forrest, Tikal is one of the largest uncovered Mayan archeological sites in North America.
The most common way to see Tikal is to fly or bus into Flores, the sleepy Italianesque island near by, book a hotel or hostel there for a few days and make the trek into Tikal with a tour and guide for sunset or sunrise. I’ve done it before and it’s decent. But knowing what I know now about Tikal, I’d never do it again. Here’s my picks on the two best ways to see this majestic place.
#1 The Broke Hippie Experience
There is a campground right in the park and it’s campground cheap to stay. To get into the park you have to pay about $20USD anyway, so you can just walk in in the morning. And I recommend you go super early to avoid the crowds and the heat. Tikal was uncovered over 100 years ago and has had a UNESCO designation since 1979; needless to say it’s a very diverse rainforest and incredible arboretum, so that in itself is worth the trip. I had a friend camp there once, sneak into the park and do a blood sacrifice on the new moon in one of the temples. Seriously, this is your opportunity to get weird at a very ancient and sacred site. Price: $40USD approx. includes camping, the grounds and a sandwich.
#2 Ball Out and Fly
My father recently visited me in Antigua, and I decided to go all out and book the one day round trip to Tikal from Antigua. It’s usually 8-10 hours by land, and that’s how most people make the trip, but I wanted to get fancy for the holidays. My biggest fear was that I would take the same $25 trip I did from Flores before with a 4 out of 10 guide and a rubbery sandwich for lunch. I emailed the tour company several questions and they were great in answering all of them, even though I must have seemed annoying. In the end, the trip was worth every penny. We had great drivers who picked us up near my house and from the airports; they knew how to avoid traffic (the struggle is real in Guatemala) and get us there on time. The flight is only 50 minutes to the nearest airport and our guide was extremely knowledgable not just about Tikal and the ruins, but about Guatemalan and Mayan history as well as agriculture and the environment. We had a delicious lunch in a beautiful restaurant in the jungle, and they had no problem making me something diverse and vegetarian. All in all we left at 4AM and were back by 8PM and my father got his socks blown off. Worth every penny. Price: $329USD pp. includes everything except a bottle of water.