Tikal Mayan Ruins in the Jungle

Large temple in the El Mundo Perdido group, Tikal In Tikal in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle, the largest of the ancient Mayan cities was located. Large pyramids rise above the high trees, but large numbers of lower Tikal Mayan Ruins are still unexcavated. It is a great place to explore, both for culture lovers and wildlife spotters.

We arrive early in the afternoon in Flores. Flores is a small town on an island in Lake Peten, located in the middle of the jungle near the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal. In Flores itself a Mayan tribe resisted the Spanish conquerors the longest, but there is nothing that reminds of that fact. It is a very pleasant town though. Sunset over Lake Peten, Flores Guatemala We walk around, watch a beautiful sunset over the water, eat in a nice restaurant, and have a few drinks in a small bar. Life can be very nice…


We set out for Tikal very early in the morning. The park will open at 6 AM and we want to hurry to see the sun rise from the pyramids. But still in the bus we see it’s getting light already, so we can forget about that. So when we arrive in the park we decide to follow the sounds of the howler monkeys, not without result. A little later we see them high in the trees. We amaze ourselves how much noisy these relatively small animals make.

After seeing the monkeys, we decide to go to Temple IV, the highest in Tikal, and the second highest in Central America. Although we missed the sunrise, we still want to enjoy the view over the jungle with the low sun. It’s a long walk however, and when we arrive we also have to climb 60 meters high. But it’s relatively easy to climb because of the stairway constructed over the jungle which is covering the temple completely. When we arrive at the top, we notice that we can only look 50 meters far, because of the fog.

Instead of watching the view, we watch how a coati (funny small Central American mammal) is curiously searching for some food amongst the tourists. When we try to eat something he comes very close, and indeed he tries to grab it from our hands. But he doesn’t succeed and we scare him off, so he tries his luck elsewhere. And not without success, a little later he grabs a bag of potato crisps from the hands of a German tourist. And a Japanese guy looses a few cookies to the funny little animal. When we have rested enough we decide to walk the stairs back down to visit the rest of the park.

El Mundo Perdido

Accompanied by a fox in Tikal We walk through the jungle towards El Mundo Perdido, the Lost World. This is a quiet part of the park, containing the oldest structures. We climb the large central pyramid of this group, to have another great view. But we also came here since we were told the chances are good to see toucans here. So we climb a smaller structure and sit down to watch. All of a sudden, not a toucan appears, but a small fox. It sits down only two meters away from us. After a couple of minutes he decides to move on. We stay a little longer to enjoy the surroundings.

On our way to the central square we hear, and after a search we also see a woodpecker. It’s very crowded at the central square with the two most important pyramids, so we decide to move on to the southern group of pyramids. Here it is quiet again, but although we enjoy the silence, we don’t see more wildlife. But walking back to El Mundo Perdido, we finally see the toucans high in the trees. Since the fog is now gone, we also visit Temple IV again, and have a magnificent view over the park.

Enliving history

Finally, we return to the central square. Because of the heat the crowds are gone now. Here it’s time to take in more of the Maya culture. The square is dotted with stelae, each one covered with inscriptions of Mayan history. The pyramids I and II are facing each other and are the best reconstructed ones in the park. Sitting on top of them, we read and take in the rituals that must have taken place here. It is an amazing experience just to sit here.

In total, we have spent almost 7 hours at the Tikal Mayan Ruins. We are tired, but in fact we are not keen to leave. There is so much to see here, and the natural surroundings are so great to walk in, that we want to go back the next day. Unfortunately, we have to move on to the next hotspot in Central America. We will remember Tikal, however, as the excellent destination to experience a combination of nature and (Mayan) culture.

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