Tikal & Yaxha Oct 2014

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.

DSCF2512Lake Peten

DSCF2504Locals 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.

DSCF2376The super tall ceiba tree.

DSCF2377Ceiba tree

DSCF2382One of the Twin Temples at Tikal.

DSCF2388Tikal temples were once concealed by 40-meter tall trees.

DSCF2393Twin temple at Tikal.

DSCF2400The back of Tikal Temple I.

DSCF2412Grounds of the former king’s residence.

DSCF2414Former King’s residence

DSCF2419Tikal 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.

DSCF2432View of Tikal Temple II also known as the Temple of the Masks.

DSCF2454View of Tikal Temple I on the east side of the Great Plaza from the top of Tikal Temple II.

DSCF2472Mundo Perdido is the largest ceremonial complex at Tikal.

DSCF2480Climbing 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.

DSCF2483View from the top of Temple IV which is about 65 meters tall.

DSCF2493No 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.

DSCF2526The site was empty except for a few Guatemalans who manned the grounds.

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DSCF2556You will see many of these mounds which are unexcavated pyramids.

DSCF2574Here you can see new layers of structure over the old ones built by the different reigning kings.

DSCF2606Ancient Ball Court at Yaxha

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DSCF2536Do climb up to the top of the tallest temple for a panoramic view of the surrounding.

DSCF2613Local kid named Vani

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More Maya civilisation coming in the next posts on Belize.

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