Welcome to Tikal. As one of the main reasons why I wanted to visit Guatemala, these Mayan ruins definitely deserve their spot on my ‘this is…’ series. They’re worthy of the title ‘UNESCO world heritage’, not only because it used to be one of the most powerful kingdoms in ancient Maya history. When you visit, the atmosphere just breathes greatness and mysteriousness. Questions pop up instantly: how did they manage to make such grand temples in a time with such few building tools? How did they live? Who are those Mayans, that left so many secrets and not enough answers to silence our hunger for knowledge? Where did they sacrifice? – Yep, always interested in the bloody details. – Are there jaguars in the neighbourhood? Is it likely that I’ll be served for breakfast to some jungle animals?
Only one tip from me: take a guide and visit very very early in the morning. – Ok, those are two tips, but you can combine them, no worries. – First of all, you’re in a jungle area where it can get very hot and very humid at the same time. The last thing you want to do is climbing thousands – I’m exaggerating a little bit – of stairs while liters of sweat are gushing out of your pores. You will sweat a lot already in the early morning, but at least it’ll be bearable. Also,take a guide. Preferable one that can speak. Not only does he make sure you don’t get lost in the forest, he also tells wonderful stories about the Mayans, shows you animals you wouldn’t see otherwise and you actually know at which kind of buildings you’re looking at.
Don’t forget, Tikal is HUGE. Only a small percentage is excavated, but the site contains about 3000 different structures. Loads of them are buried beneath heaps of foliage, trees and other vegetation. – Tomb Raider level 3467 – Nevertheless, the small percentage of uncovered ruins are more than worth the visit. My favorite part of Tikal? The view from the top of Temple IV, overseeing the heads of the other temples above the crests of the jungle, is just priceless.