Tikal, situated in the El Peten region of Guatemala, is the ruins of the capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms in the ancient Maya World. It remained somewhat prosperous until the decline of the Maya civilization around 900 AD and was eventually abandoned completely and consumed by the rainforest surrounding it. Tikal was rediscovered in 1848 and it is one of the largest archaeological sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. Excavation work is still ongoing and temples still being uncovered. Tunnels have been mapped under the complex which extend 800 km to the opposite side of the country.
We stayed at the Camino Real Tikal Hotel on the shores of Lake Peten. The hotel is supposedly the best one in the vicinity but really needs some updating. The rooms are very basic and dated with weak air-conditioning. Since we didn’t have a car, we had to eat in the hotel restaurant for the 2 nights we were there. The food was very average and for one of the nights, we were the only ones there.
Locals at the Lake Peten in the afternoon.
We were driven to Tikal bright and early. The site felt less overrun with tourists than other Mayan sites like Chichen Itza, perhaps due to its remoteness in the jungle.
The super tall ceiba tree.
One of the Twin Temples at Tikal.
Tikal temples were once concealed by 40-meter tall trees.
Twin temple at Tikal.
The back of Tikal Temple I.
Grounds of the former king’s residence.
Former King’s residence
Tikal Tempe I also known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar because of the discovery of a lintel that represents a king sitting upon a jaguar throne.
View of Tikal Temple II also known as the Temple of the Masks.
View of Tikal Temple I on the east side of the Great Plaza from the top of Tikal Temple II.
Mundo Perdido is the largest ceremonial complex at Tikal.
Climbing up the back of Temple IV which is one of the tallest buildings in the Maya world and the tallest one still standing. Archaeologists believe that the tomb of the 27th king of the Tikal Dynasty, Yik’in Chan K’awiil, lies somewhere underneath this pyramid.
View from the top of Temple IV which is about 65 meters tall.
No railings at the top of Temple IV…a bit scary.
The following day, we departed Tikal enroute to Belize with a stop at another ancient site, Yaxha. Yaxha, which translates to “Blue Green Waters”, is a former ceremonial centre and city of the pre-Columbian Maya world. It is situated on the north shore of Lake Yaxha about 30 km southeast of Tikal. At its peak, it had a population of 42,000 and is the third largest Mayan ruin in Guatemala, with only Tikal and El Mirador being larger.
The site was empty except for a few Guatemalans who manned the grounds.
You will see many of these mounds which are unexcavated pyramids.
Here you can see new layers of structure over the old ones built by the different reigning kings.
Ancient Ball Court at Yaxha
Do climb up to the top of the tallest temple for a panoramic view of the surrounding.
Local kid named Vani
More Maya civilisation coming in the next posts on Belize.