Mayan capital




December 2013 • Canon 60D camera

UNESCO World Heritage site
Tikal National Park

Internal Flight


La Aurora
International Airport




Flores International

Visiting Tikal National Park was not on our itinerary for Guatemala. We originally planned to spend 2 days in the city of Antigua. But after some enquiries we found it was possible to do a day trip from Antigua to Tikal via an internal domestic flight. Catching an early morning flight from La Aurora International Airport, it was an hour flight to Flores Airport. There we met our tour leader for the day. The weather was nice and hot with blue skies.

Tikal National Park is a huge place with over 3000 structures. It was not something we could see in one day. Our tour leader would take us to visit the key places and temples for the day. Tikal has some of the most famous Mayan architectural structures to be seen. At the entrance of the park, you can see a scale model of the extensive site. Believed to be an ancient Mayan city, the architecture at the site dates back to the 4th Century BC.


Ceiba pentandra

Temple I

Temple of the Janguar, The Great Plaza

Temple II

Temple of the Masks, The Great Plaza

Temple 33

Northern Acropolis, The Great Plaza

Temple 34

Northern Acropolis, The Great Plaza

Temple III

Temple of the Janguar Priest

Views from Temple IV

Temple of the two headed snake

The tallest temple in the park, Temple IV, is 70 metres (230 ft) from the plaza floor level to the top of its roof. It was built in 745 A.D. You need to queue up, to climb a staircase at the side to reach the top of the temple.

It's a lot to climb, but you are rewarded with some awesome views over the jungle canopy with the temple pyramid heads rising through the trees.

Did you know...

Tikal was part of the classic Mayan period (250 CE – 950 CE) which saw the height of maya civilisation in cities such as Chichen Itza and Palenque

Great Pyramid

Mundo Perdido complex

Talud-Tablero Temple

Mundo Perdido complex

East Pyramid

Complex Q

Maler's Palace

Central Acropolis

Structure 5D-43

Central Acropolis

Bat Palace

Palace of Windows

Unexcavated Ruins

Final thoughts

The temples at Tikal were truly impressive! Just like Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat or Palenque, I marveled at how people in the past built such huge buildings with such primitive tools. There is a lot to see in Tikal, but if you want to catch the temple highlights like we did then one day would suffice. If you are someone keen in Mayan history, then you would need to spend more then one day in the park.

It's mosquito central in the park, so pack your insect repellent or wear long-sleeved tops and trousers. The weather in the jungle is very hot and humid, so don't forget to bring plenty of water. In the open areas and if you climb up some of the temples you will need bring sun block, sunglasses and a hat to protect from the sun.

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