So alternatively this guide could be called “Tikal in 24 Hours” because nearly the entirety of our time in Guatemala was spent in Tikal. The site is so close to where we were staying in San Ignacio that there was no way we were going to pass up the opportunity to see it. If you’re like us and deciding to take a excursion from your Belize vacation to Guatemala here are a few things to remember. First, water is a lot better quality in Belize. This won’t be an issue wherever you’re staying but something to keep in mind if/when purchasing street food and drinks. Second, Belize is an English-speaking country but remember that Guatemala’s official language is Spanish. English isn’t widely spoken at all. Lastly, economic conditions are harsher in Guatemala than Belize resulting in a bit more crime. We didn’t have any issues minus a few police stops/reroutes but it’s just something to keep in mind. I really, really loved visiting Tikal so don’t let the above info keep you from going, just keep it at the back of your mind so you’re prepared and know what to expect! So, without further adieu, if you’re going to Tikal here are a few of my recommendations.
Obviously, go visit Tikal. I would also recommend going with a guide. There is so much history that we’re barely taught about in a traditional western education so having a guide really helps you learn as much as you can about the site. It’s also nice having someone on hand to answer your never-ending questions if you’re like me and really into art and cultural heritage. Obviously climb up the main temples, but take time to explore some of the other ruins, we wandered through an old dormitory that was completely devoid of tourists and it was so nice to explore the ruins by ourselves. With that said, Tikal wasn’t super crowded and even the most popular temples had plenty of space on top of them.
2. Stay in Tikal
Inside the park there is an absolutely amazing ecolodge. If you have the chance to stay there, then take it. We didn’t know what to expect when we got to the Lodge. To be honest, were kind of expecting a bit of a rougher experience, but instead this ecolodge turned out to be the nicest place we stayed! The little casitas were cozy and clean with minimalist furnishings and a gorgeous modern bathroom all in marble. The rainhead shower was my favorite. The water pressure was actually as strong as it is here in a America (I think that’s what I missed most about while in Belize). Now, this is an ecolodge so there was no ac at all and no electricity from 10pm-6 am, but the fans kept the room pleasant until the temperature cooled off in the evening and we had flashlights in case we needed to get up at night.
We found the best tortillas while in Guatemala, there are countless roadsides stands that sell them and they’re such a delicious snack when they’re hot off the stone. If you’ve never had homemade tortillas these will change your life. I’m lucky enough to have an abuela that makes me tortillas all the time which means I’m picky when it comes to tortillas, so trust me when I say these were delicious!
4. Mask Workshop
Guatemala has a long tradition of mask-making, the art form has been featured in museums across the world. Around Tikal there are several mask workshops you can visit. They can be a little tourist-y but so are most things in the area. It’s still a really cool opportunity to watch an artisan at his/her craft.
Are you going to Tikal soon? What are you most excited to see?