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Central America Tikal Pyramids (Guatemala)

Tikal was one of the main Mayan centers of power and nowdays still is one of the most impressive Mayan ruins hidden in the middle of deep jungle. About mid 4th century, through the reign of king „Big Jaguar Paw“, Tikal adopted some brutal tactics of combat from Teotihuacán (Mexico) and conquered all surrounding territory. About two hundred years later, it grew even more and it is estimated that Tikal´s population counted 100 000 people. When year 900 came, Tikal, as many other Mayan cities, mysteriously disappeared from the Earth...
The ruins are from a classic Maya period, with the oldest building found in the part of Tikal called „Mundo Perdido“ (The Lost World) counting from 600 BC and the newest from 899 AD. The ruins, proclaimed world heritage by UNESCO in 1979, are located in north Guatemala, the scarcely inhabited area of Petén.

Matter of interest: The name „Tikal“ (which means Place of Voices) is not the original one. The authentic one, deciphered from ancient hieroglyphs, is „Mutul“ (knot, chignon). It is believed the name comes from the way Ku´hul Ahaw, one of the kings, styled his hair.
What here: If you want to get some views, then climb up the highest „Templo de la Serpiente“ (64 meters, better in the afternoon) or the „Templo de las Máscaras“ from which you get to see the entire central square. The opposite „Templo del Jaguar“ was closed after few tourist bumped down it steep stairs to the death. There are many palaces hidden in the jungle, some of them excavated, other still covered by foliage. In the tree-tops hop monkeys, tarantulas hide in dark holes and coatis will sometimes cross your way looking for a midday snack. You can easily spend the day here.

Entrance fee 20 USD. If it is still truth, you can by your ticket in the afternoon and still use it the next day morning, seeing the ruins and jungle go to sleep and wake up as well. Should you wish to do that, stay in bungalows near Tikal site, you may try (65 USD/double): http://www.jaguartikal.com 

Where to stay: Many visitors stay in a small island Flores (lake Petén Itzá). There is a variety of hotels, even though few are striking deals. I would recommend one of the newest ones (25 – 60 USD) Casa Amelia. http://hotelcasamelia.com
How to get here: Overnight buses come from Guatemala City. Some of them should take you all the way to Flores, unfortunately they usually kick you out (at 5 am!) in Santa Elena (over the bridge) where a San Juan Travel minibus waits to take you to your hotels. That wouldn´t be so bad, if “rather untrustworthy” travel agents would not try to make deals with you meanwhile. Don´t go for it! Wait till you fresh up and visit San Juan Travel directly, http://sanjuantikal.com (their office is on mainland in Santa Elena and they are not a bad agency). They offer probably the cheapest transfers to Tikal ruins (8 USD round trip) and shuttles to many other destinations, such as Belize or Mexico (Palenque, Yaxchilán or Chetumal). The official bus terminal is also located in Santa Elena, about 8 blocks up from the bridge and it is always cheaper to buy your ticket directly there.

Other buses come to Flores from Río Dulce (4,5 hours).