The ancient Mayan citadel of Tikal is truly one of the most fascinating man-made creations on Earth. Hidden deep in the lush rainforests of northern Guatemala, a visit to these remarkable ruins in Flores is not to be missed on your Central America itinerary!
I have put together this post of my own personal Tikal Tour experience with Tikal Go, one of the most reputable tour companies in Guatemala.
Also in the post, I have included some useful information on where to stay in Flores and the best time to visit.
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WHERE TO BOOK YOUR TIKAL TOUR
There are countless tour companies in Flores offering Tikal tours, but in my experience, it can be overwhelming trying to decide which one is best.
As I mentioned earlier, I booked my Tikal tour with Tikal Go and can’t recommend them enough. The entire day was incredible from start to finish, not to mention their tour guides are the most top-ranked in the country and full of knowledge when it comes to Mayan history. Ask them anything!
Tikal Go has a few different Tikal tour packages to choose from such as the Exclusive Tour, Sunrise Tour, Sunset Tour and Bird Tour.
All tours include private transport from your hotel in Flores, Tikal entrance fee, a tour of Tikal with an experienced guide and a hearty lunch with beverages.
I personally went on a private Tikal Exclusive Tour which is a full-day guided tour of Tikal from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Tikal Go also offers personalized service from Antigua, Guatemala City and Belize.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT TIKAL
Tikal was officially discovered in 1848 but before that, this Mayan citadel went completely unnoticed for hundreds of years.
Why? Because when the Mayans abandoned Tikal back in the day, nature took over and the temples became overgrown in thick vegetation making it near impossible to see the stone structures behind the shrubs.
When the Spanish came through north Guatemala in the 1500s, they never discovered or reported findings of any structures as they were completely covered in soil, bushes, trees and just looked like a hilly area, so to speak.
Tikal covers an area of 64 square kilometers and there are said to be more than 4000 stone structures scattered across these lands with many more still yet to be uncovered. It takes archaeologists years of careful excavations to uncover and preserve these incredible temples of Tikal.
Each temple you will see on the Tikal tour took more than 50 years to construct and they were built to honor the gods. There are 35 gods in the Mayan culture with the most important gods being sun, rain and corn.
Tikal was declared at UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
THE MORNING OF THE TIKAL TOUR
Reol, an experienced tour guide from Tikal Go, picked us up from our accommodation in Flores at 5am to make the 1-hour drive to Tikal. The plan was to arrive at the entrance at 6:00 am when doors open and to be the first ones inside the archeological area. Sure enough, everything went according to plan and we were one of the first groups to enter.
When we arrived, Reol sorted us out with the Tikal entrance fee and we were each given wristbands to wear during our visit. Before making our way along the trailhead to the Tikal ruins, Reol gave us a rundown of the Tikal tour itinerary on a small scale model which is located at the entrance to the national park.
Book Now → Tikal Tour
GRAND PLAZA TIKAL & TEMPLE IV
For the first stop on our Tikal tour, we headed straight to the Grand Plaza which is home to Temple I, Temple II, Acropolis del Norte and Acropolis Central. The Grand Plaza is the most popular spot to visit on the Tikal tour so if you want to get photos without the crowds be sure to get there first thing.
The next stop was Temple IV which is the tallest structure in the park, standing a whopping 70 meters high above the ground. To get to the top there is a set of wooden stairs located on the backside of the temple and it takes around 5 minutes to reach the viewpoint.
When you reach the summit of Temple IV, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the other Tikal temples and surrounding rainforests that stretch as far as the eye can see.
GRAND PYRAMID TEMPLE
After hanging out on the top of Temple IV, we made our way over to the Grand Pyramid Temple which was one of my favorites on the Tikal tour.
The Grand Pyramid was once used by the Mayan astronomers hence why it is completely flat on top. Climb the stairs on the backside of the pyramid to reach the wooden viewing deck boasting yet another panoramic view of Tikal.
Must Read → Semuc Champey Guide
PLAZA DE LOS SIETE TEMPLOS
Next up on our Tikal tour was Plaza de Los Siete Templos (Plaza of the Seven Temples) which takes its name from a row of seven temples and features a central ball court.
These particular Tikal ruins are much smaller than the other temples though they are equally as impressive, in my opinion. Plaza de Los Siete Templos has been very well preserved and not to be missed when visiting Tikal.
Book Now → Tikal Tour
TEMPLE V TIKAL
Last but not least on our Tikal tour was Temple V and my personal favorite of all. The grandeur size and its vibrant mossy exterior are just some of the features that make this Tikal temple so impressive.
It’s possible to climb the first few steps of Temple V to get a photo but it’s prohibited to go all the way to the top.
On the right-hand side of Tikal Temple Five, you can see it has been completed excavated and uncovered, whereas the opposite side still remains hidden behind soil and bushes.
FINAL THOUGHTS OF THE TIKAL TOUR
My experience on the Tikal tour with Tikal Go was one I will not soon forget. As I mentioned earlier, the entire tour from start to finish was flawless and great value for money.
Tikal happened to be the last location that I visited during my travels in Guatemala and it was indeed the icing on the cake! It’s one of those places in the world that you need to visit at least once and experience it first hand.
Be sure to check out the Tikal Go website and choose a Tikal Tour that best suits you!
BEST TIME TO VISIT TIKAL
The best time to visit Tikal is in the cool, dry season months from November to April when temperatures are just right and there is little to no rainfall.
The rainy season is typically May through to October which sees a lot of rainfall and temperatures are much higher. The only plus side to visiting Tikal during these months is that there will be fewer tourists.
WHERE TO STAY IN FLORES
Flores has hundreds of accommodations to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Flores to suit the needs of luxury travelers and budget backpackers. See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: HOTEL ISLA DE FLORES
Mid Range: HOTEL CASAZUL
Budget: CIAO CACAO HOSTEL
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN FLORES, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
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LONELY PLANET – GUATEMALA
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Guatemala Travel Guide!
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MORE CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA TRAVEL GUIDES
- Guatemala: 2 Week Guatemala Itinerary
- Mexico: 4 Week Mexico Itinerary
- Cuba: 10 Day Cuba Itinerary
- Peru: Backpacking Peru – 3 Week Itinerary
- Bolivia: Things To Do In Bolivia
- Brazil: 2 Day Rio De Janeiro Itinerary
- Argentina: Things To Do In Argentina
- Chile: Things To Do In Chile
WHAT TO PACK FOR GUATEMALA
Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables, drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.
Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.
Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!
Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.
Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.
Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions.
Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.
MY CAMERA GEAR
Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included.
Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.
GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!
Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket.
Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!
Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.
GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!
Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.
External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.
ONLINE ENGLISH TEACHING
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Before you go, don’t forget to check out My Online Shop!
I’ve got a wide range of digital products for sale and I’m sure you’ll find something that will come in handy during your travels!
SEE MORE → MY SHOP
If you have any questions at all about my Tikal tour experience with Tikal Go, please drop me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!