Alright, lads! Ready for another Central American travel post?
Lol, I’m honestly so behind on all of these posts and I don’t see myself catching up any time soon. The further away I get from the trip, the less I feel like writing them up. I’m sure they’ll all get churned out eventually. For now, however, you’re just going to have to take what you can get from me, when I give it.
This time I’m going to be giving a brief overview of the morning that we spent at the ancient Mayan city of Tikal, Guatemala.
Having spent the night in Flores, just south of Tikal, we woke up, bleary eyed at 3:30am to jump in a minivan and head for the city. We’d booked a tour the evening before, that included transport, an amazing tour guide, and soft drinks. The catch was the early start. Not so early that we’d see the sunrise from the top of a temple – the clouds would have made it a waste of time and money – but so early that we beat the rest of the tourists and the midday sun. After a sleepy drive, we reached the entrance to Tikal park at 6am.
At the park we met Caesar, a fabulous Guatemalan tour guide, who showed us around the city and told us all sorts of fascinating, and sometimes weird, stuff about how Tikal was built, why and by whom. A particular highlight was when he stopped us all in front of a wall to tell us about how it *must* have been aliens because of similarities between Mayan culture and other indigenous cultures around the world. I’m down for it. He seemed pretty adamant and who were we to argue with him. Guys, Tikal was built by ancient Mayan aliens.
He also told us that Mayan descendants don’t go grey. A bold claim, but I have no facts at all to prove otherwise. Basically, Caesar was awesome and knew everything about the park, loved a good swear word and was all-round fantastic. One of my favourite people on the trip by a long way. Him and the English guy wearing black jeans and a black shirt in the middle of the jungle without breaking a sweat. A modern hero.
It’s a real shame that the morning was so overcast. Not a shame for us, because even by 8am the sweat was running down my face, but a shame for you because the photos make the whole place look like a Tuesday afternoon in October in Sussex. Still beautiful, but not as wow! as I would have liked.
Obviously when you’re there it’s a whole different story. Tikal really is a jungle paradise, with monkeys and toucans and all sorts flying around the tree tops. Unlike Chichen-Itza or a few of the other Mayan sites, you can climb most of the temples at Tikal, and that’s what you go there for. The view is breathtaking from each of the three open temples – the perfect place to catch your breath, wipe the sweat away, and down a litre of water before you have to head back down again. Be warned, the stairs are in their millions and are super steep, but go at your own pace and everything will be worth it. You can see for miles and miles.
Having fully explored the temple, we were ready to go by 11am – hope in time for lunch and to avoid the blistering sun.
Of all the Mayan ruins that we visited on our trip, I’d really have to say that Tikal was my favourite. The temples are stunning, the tour was brilliant, and the views were breathtaking. A must see for anyone travelling Central America.