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Tikal – Mayan Skyscrapers and the tiny island of Flores

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In front of Temple 2

This is not the first blog written about the Mayan ruins of Tikal and it certainly won’t be the last, so I will be brief and just mainly show you pretty pictures.

We left Lanquín on a tourist shuttle (Q150) with a collection of highly irritating ‘gap yah’s’ from Israel who seemed to be intent on making the journey one of the most unbearable yet.  The hangover of course did not help as well. Arriving in Flores at about 5pm, it is like a scene from ‘The Birds’ with a variety of different winged beasts lining the roof tops and trees, making a deafening racket that gave us both the willies. They do this every night at sunset, it’s very strange.

Too much waffle for you?  Click here to go to gallery.

Colourful cobbled streets of Flores

Colourful cobbled streets of Flores

Flores Alley

Flores Alley

Swimmers in Lake Peten Itza

Swimmers in Lake Peten Itza

Flores is a tiny Island on Lake Petén Itzá.  It has a mock colonial style running throughout with cobbled streets, brightly painted houses and tin roofs all painted red.  It is tiny and you can walk round it in about 10 minutes, although we couldn’t as some of the walkways by the lake appeared to be flooded.  The weather was highly unpredictable at the best of times, with bright sunshine, followed by thunderous downpours without warning.  There’s nothing much to do here apart from seek lodging and have a beer whilst visiting Tikal.  It’s quite expensive for a backpacker, but there is a taco stand at the back of the center square where you can get some cheap eats with a nice view over the lake.

Gallo Beer Sponsored Christmas

Gallo Beer Sponsored Christmas, got to love Guatemala!

Flores Central Square

Flores Central Square

A slippery alleyway down from the Central Square

A slippery alleyway down from the Central Square

Tikal, once described by one explorer as ‘Place where the Gods speak’ is a huge collection of Mayan ruins dating back to as early as 900BC.  It is set in the jungle of ‘National Park Tikal’ and takes around 1.5 hours to get to by bus (Q70 round trip for bus and Q150 for entry).  The site is one of the most impressive in existence mainly due to the collection of 6 temples that stretch up to 64m high from the forest floor peeking through the jungle canopy.  The temples are later works and date from between 600-800AD and as with most of the pre-Columbian cultures, they would simply build on top of the old stuff when a new leader came to power.

The great plaza

The great plaza

Sweaty trek through the jungle

Sweaty trek through the jungle

The temple of Inscriptions (Temple 6)

The temple of Inscriptions (Temple 6)

Ollie is a bit bigger than your average Mayan

Ollie is a bit bigger than your average Mayan

You can quite easily spend a whole day exploring the site and many lunatics opt to go at 3am, where they can climb to the top of Temple 4 and watch the jungle canopy spring to life with the sunrise.  We did not feel this was a good use of our time so ended up going there at midday and exploring for ourselves.  We still managed to see monkeys and other strange furry things through the jungle trails and, to our surprise, it was pretty empty.  We started at Temple 6 and wound our way to all of the great structures, culminating in the view from Temple 4, where you really feel like you are on top if the world.  The top of the canopy is endless and incredibly green, with four other temple tops visible poking through.  This was the top of the Mayan world and yet another incredible sight we have been blessed with.  Here are some more pictures.

Temple 2

Temple 2

Temple 5
Slippery steps...I fell down these shortly afterwards

Slippery steps…I fell down these shortly afterwards

Temple 1

Temple 1

So much to explore

So much to explore

Complex Q

Complex Q

Temple 4 through the jungle

Temple 4 through the jungle

Top of Temple 4 panorama

Top of Temple 4 panorama

For the full gallery, click here.

Thanks for reading.

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