Our trip to Tikal began as an adventure on the local bus, a 4- 5 hr. ride (depending on who you asked) to the city of Flores where we picked up a collectivo to the park. It was standing room only when we boarded in Fronteras and there was a long and windy road ahead of us with no hand holds. On more than one occassion I almost landed in my neighbor”s lap. The adventure continued on the way to the park, which led me to wonder if it is actually a blessing to speak limited spanish, insert long story here where the bus driver pulled a fast one on the young German we were riding with. It took all day to arrive and we were both exhausted by the time we checked into our hotel.
Tikal is more than just a pile of ancient ruins, it is a national park in the middle of a verdant jungle teeming with tangled vines and exotic creatures. Being a major political, economic and military center, it was one of the most influential Mayan Kingdoms. Tikal’s civilization peaked between 200 – 900 AD, and was governed by a long line of dynastic rulers.
This visit was nothing like our trek to the Lost City, different civilizations and terrain created a unique experience. Tikal is a vast park with groupings of temples and palaces spread throughout. What is fascinating is that there is much that remains to be excavated and you can see these buried pyramids as little hillocks covered with jungle. It is impossible to look at the monolithic size and construction of these ancient buildings and not wonder how in the world the Maya accomplished it. As we walked through the dense jungle we could hear the roar of howler monkeys, squawking parrots and sat watching as a pack of Koatymundi rooted through the ground with their long snouts.
This side trip inland was well worth the time and effort, I might even come back someday. Next time I think that I would hire a guide and then spend the next day taking pictures. Our planning of the walk through the park was not timed to get great shots of the major sites and views. The view from Temple IV is out of this world as you can see the other monolithic temples rising up out of the jungle. From one grouping to the next you get to soak up the natural landscape of the jungle and maybe this is what I loved the most about this particular site. I would encourage any and all to go visit, it truly is extraordinary!