Tikal

Well the journey from Lanquin to Flores was only 250km and we were going by shuttle and being picked up at 8 so we’re hoping to be there at around lunchtime. No unfortunately the horror stories of transit in Guatemala continues and we eventually got dropped off at 6pm!! I have a feeling that the guys we met further south who decided to by pass Guatemala might have had some information that they didn’t share with us!
At this stage we were both a bit over Guatemala and those we were meeting on the shuttles were feeling the same too. There was a sense of gloom and despondency that so much time and money was being spent on travelling relatively short distances. In fact we were already pretty excited about leaving Guatemala and moving on.
We had two last nights and one last day to enjoy and we were still managing to get excited about the prospect of visiting Tikal which was meant to be spectacular. We had been told that sunrise was the thing to see in Tikal so even though we were a bit knackered we signed up for a tour departing at 3am the next morning!!
We treated ourselves to a some delicious cerviche and fish tacos and tried to get some sleep before our early rise.
The 2:45 am alarm came around pretty quickly but we were genuinely excited about the prospect of seeing the sun rise over Tikal. We hopped in the bus and said hello to all the others we had now got to know who were all following on similar Gringo trails through Guatemala. We were meant to be in a group with a guide of 8-10 max but there were 30 of us. No longer a surprise to any of us and there was much joking amongst the group as to how the locals had scammed us once again! (Not sure how this is going to work out for their tourist industry long term)
Anyway none of us were bothered or surprised and we all followed our guide on a rapid hike to the far side of the park. Sarah and I were really getting excited as we had caught glimpses of stars in the sky as we began the journey so were expecting a clear night. We climbed up the 196 steps to the top of one of the temples and all sat down facing east to await the sun coming up.  
The fog set in and we didn’t see one ray of sunshine.
Still it did give the place a mystical air and the views of the temples across the jungle was impressive.
We then all descended and began the tour. 30 people to one guide was a few too many and a lot soon lost interest but the guy tried his hardest and although a lot of what he told us was a repeat of what we had heard in Copan it was still good to have him explain the bits and bobs about what we were seeing here.
The tour didn’t start off too impressively as he walked us through the jungle passing mounds of earth under which were I excavated temples. Not overly impressive. We eventually arrived at the main square which to be fair was very impressive and that was where the tour ended.
The temples in the main square were quite something to behold but they were lacking the interesting artful carvings which we had seen in Copan. It was at this point that we both gave ourselves a high five for making the effort to get to Copan as we only really realised now how impressive it really was. It’s difficult when you see the best first but it’s still great to see Tikal too.  
It was really nice walking around the jungle in the early morning and coming across these quite wonderful temples. It’s something I have seen a lot of in pictures but is certainly quite awesome to see in real life.
We finished the morning sitting in the shade under a tree in the main square just taking it all in.
For the afternoon we went for a very short walk around the island of Flores which was quite cute but ultimately very touristy and then collapsed in a heap exhausted. T

The sight greeting us when we got to the top of the temple just before dawn was pretty impressive.

Umm we think this is the moment the sun rose!


Some of the glimpses of the temples through the forest are fantastic.

This temple has been built upon another temple, in fact they built another temple every 51 years (a human lifespan) right on top of the previous temple.

Great to see a fully excavated temple.

One of the local howler monkeys looking on.  The sounds of them waking up in the morning were amazing.


There were a few of these temples scattered around the forest.  When they were in their prime there wouldn’t have been any forest here at all the whole area would have been used for housing and farming. 

This temple was only half excavated and when I asked the guide why more wasn’t being excavated he said that the view was that one example of each temple was enough.

The Agouti of Tikal.  These gather in families of up to 60 in size.

The main temples of the main plaza really spectacular.


The view we had for our well deserved lunch when we got back to Flores.

Another little village with beautifully coloured houses.  Every time I see it though I think it’s great.

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