Tikal is an expansive ancient Maya citadel with hundreds of excavated Maya buildings and hundreds more lying under the jungle. Tikal was probably the largest Maya city which flourished between 300 and 850 CE. Visitors can easily spend a couple of days exploring the ruins and the rainforest which is filled with spider monkeys, coatis, and tropical birds like toucans and macaws. Visit Tikal as part of your trip to Guatemala, or extend your trip to nearby Belize. Contact one of Adventure Life's Guatemala specialists for help planning the perfect trip to Tikal.
900 CE: The city was abandoned and reclaimed by the jungle.
Purpose: Tikal served as one of the major Mayan metropolises, serving as a center of politics, science, religion, and society.
Why was Tikal abandoned? The Maya empire was a powerful kingdom for over a thousand years, and while Tikal was a prominent city for much of that, other cities also vied to be the seat of power for the empire. Although Tikal was able to recover from several valleys when political power was taken to another city by competing Maya royals, ultimately, it was abandoned in the late 9th century.
Getting to Tikal
To get to Tikal, you will likely catch a flight into the rainforest, from which point you will use land transportation for several hours before arriving in this impressive complex.
Where to stay around Tikal La Lancha - This 10-room lodge on Lago Peten Itza is a sanctuary for those exploring Tikal. Each room is air conditioned and the lodge itself features a pool, an open-air restaurant, and exclusive access to the Lake and the jungle.
The Jungle Lodge - Located in the heart of the Tikal National Park, this lodge features 36 bungalows, each with a private bathroom and comfortable amenitites. There are also two luxurious Junior Suites that have hot tubs and 12 rooms that have shared bathrooms. The hotel also hosts a restaurant/ bar and swimming pool.
If you are doing Tikal as an extension tour or as a one-day destination, you might not stay in one of these hotels and simply take a bus to Tikal from neighboring Belize or other destinations in Guatemala.
Activities to do around Tikal
Exploring the ruins: The expansive complex of ruins at Tikal is the main attraction and in fact is enough to fill several days of exploration without even scratching the surface. The towering pyramids where kings were entombed are the centerpiece of the ancient city, but the surrounding buildings are also well preserved considering the environment and offer a rare glimpse into the early architecture and development of Mayan building. Much of the complex was actually reclaimed by the jungle and is still hidden, creating a more mysterious atmosphere.
Wildlife spotting: Since Tikal is located deep within the jungles of Guatemala, you are likely to come across all manner of tropical rainforest species, including spider & howler monkeys, white lipped peccary, brocket deer, coati-mundis, toucans, scarlet macaws, parrots, ocelots and even jaguars.