Tikal, travelling into the past to an ancient Maya City

Marta's Adventures in Belize - Part 17

Having explored some of the most beautiful and amazing Maya ruins in Belize, we decided to explore one more site. Now that we were staying at Sleeping Giant, we didn’t wanted to miss the opportunity to discover one of the largest and most well-preserved Mayan City in the World – TIKAL. This ancient site is situated in Guatemala within 2.5 hours drive from the Belize border and about 3.5 hours from Sleeping Giant Lodge.

Even though this trip is quite long, it is well worth the drive. The staff at the lodge will organize the entire trip for you one day in advance.

During the drive to Tikal you will pass through the bustling town of San Ignacio and some kilometers from there you will find the border of Guatemala. From there your journey will take you on the road through the rainforest and on to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal.

Tikal was once the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, c. 200 to 900 AD.

Tikal Maya Ruins

This site is literally in the middle of the jungle so it is normal to see lots of wildlife next to the ruins, like Gibnuts, Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys…

Spider Monkeys around the ruins of Tikal
Spider Monkeys around the ruins of Tikal

Our knowledgeable guide took us around this great Mayan City, where we had the opportunity to see dozens of stelae (monuments carved out of stone), Mayan homes and temples as we walked on real ancient Maya road. While we walked around we started feeling the magic of the Maya culture. The population estimates place the demographic size of the site between 10,000 and 90,000. So this was a huge city and you can imagine the crowd living there hundreds of years ago.

After an interesting hike through the low area of the city, we started going up to the royal area and the famous Great Plaza. One of the most awesome things of this site is the preservation of all the buildings. We also walked around the palaces where the Maya aristocracy lived. We entered their private chambers and imagined taking a “nap” on one of their stone beds.

One of the rooms and the bed of the royal palace
One of the rooms and the bed of the royal palace

I strongly recommend you to the visit this area at the beginning of your tour because from the balconies of the palaces you will have the most stunning view of the Great Plaza flanked on the east and west sides by two great temple-pyramids. You can sit at the same place where the royal families used to enjoy the views of the Great Plaza from up above. How could they build such massive and wonderful temples?! It is absolutely incredible!

The views of the Great Plaza from the balconies of the royal area
The views of the Great Plaza from the balconies of the royal area

Once you are on the ground in the middle of the Great Plaza you will delight yourself with the magnitude of the buildings around this Plaza! It looks like they are touching the sky!

The perfect finale of this tour is to climb to one the highest temples of the Great Plaza and enjoy the views from another perspective. From the top, we admired the grandeur of this Mayan city and enjoyed seeing the other temples and pyramids emerging from the rainforest.

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The most fantastic thing of this site is that it is doesn’t matter where you are located, you will adore every view and detail of this wonderful ancient Maya City! You will fall in love with it! Just like we did!

Duarte and I on the top of one of the Pyramids of the Great Plaza!
Duarte and I on the top of one of the Pyramids of the Great Plaza!
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