Walk beneath a rainforest canopy as you spot towering temples, pyramids and dwellings at the pre-Colombian city of Tikal. Learn about the evolution of an ancient Mayan civilization. Watch monkeys swing between treetops and spot exotic birdlife. Set within the striking Tikal National Park, Tikal is one of the Americas’ largest excavated Mayan sites. It dates back to the 6th century B.C. and was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1979.
Discover dozens of courtyards, palaces, plazas and temples as you walk around the expertly preserved ruins. Some stand imposingly and poke through the treetops while others sit hidden behind lush foliage. Imagine a time when Tikal served as a center of economic, military and political activity. Marvel at the artistic talents of an age-old civilization.
A major highlight is the Gran Plaza, home to the 154-feet (47-meter high) tall Temple of the Grand Jaguar. Climb to the top of the Temple of the Mask for sweeping views over the ruins and jungle. Wander around the labyrinthine courtyards of the Acrópolis Central, thought to be where noblemen once resided.
Go to the Plaza of Seven Temples, flanked by a row of identical pyramid-like structures. Don’t miss El Mundo Perdido, a complex that showcases architectural styles from the pre-classical to late-classical periods.
As you walk, look for varied wildlife. See howler monkeys, spider monkeys and some 300 bird species. Arrive early for the best wildlife-spotting opportunities.
Be sure to visit the Museo Lítico, located at the Visitor Center. See displays of ceramics and stelea (carved stone slabs). Check out the scale model of how the city may have looked in A.D. 800.
Tikal is open daily and there’s an admission fee. Maps of the site are available at the Visitor Center for a small fee. Knowledgeable guides are also available to rent. Allow at least a full day to see all of the sights.
Situated about a 1-hour drive from Flores and a 40-minute drive from El Remate, it’s easy to get to Tikal via public buses. Travel agencies in Flores and El Remate also arrange daytrips with transport and admission fees included.