The Ancient Mayan city of Tikal can be taken as a day trip from Belize. Why should this site be on our bucket list? It is an amazing example of a Mayan life and archaeologists are discovering something new here every day.
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While staying in Belize, one of our bucket list items was to see Tikal ruins in Guatemala. San Ignacio is only 9 miles from the border.
We debated on taking our rental car and driving to Guatemala ourselves, but in the end we decided to take the tour.
The tour cost us $145 US per person and included transportation, entrance fees, tour guide, and lunch.
We decided to do this for three reasons:
- We were with our kids and felt it was safer. I have heard stories of families who drove to Guatemala and had no issues, but I have also heard horror stories. We didn’t regret our choice to take a tour.
- It was explained to us that if you take the rental car into Guatemala you do so at your own risk. You also need to purchase special insurance from the car rental place ahead of time.
- We felt a tour would give us a better overview of our short visit.
On the Way to Tikal
We met our driver in San Ignacio, Belize and joined another couple in a tour van. With our family we had 7 people in our tour. The van drove to the Guatemalan border, where we switched vehicles to another tour van with Guatemalan plates.
On the way to Tikal we drove through the small village of Macanche. This small village drew water from a well and did their laundry in the lake.
The people drew water from a well and did their laundry in the lake. It made me appreciate my washing machine at home even more.
Not too far from the village we arrived at small souvenir shop in El Remata, Guatemala where we met and picked up our tour guide. We returned to this shop on our return trip for a late lunch.
From here we drove another 22 miles to the entrance of Tikal. Our guide was very knowledgeable and talked about Guatemala as we drove. From our hotel in Belize to Tikal we drove about 2 hours.
Visiting Tikal Ruins in Guatemala
Tikal was a major site for Mayan civilization and was an important ceremonial and commercial centre. The jungle surrounds Tikal and hides thousands of Mayan ruins. From the parking lot it was about a 15 minute walk to the Grand Plaza.
Two temples on either end mark the Grand Plaza: Temple I, also called the Grand Jaguar, and Temple II also called the Temple of the Masks. Due to safety concerns, visitors can no longer climb Temple I, however you can climb to the top of Temple II. You have a great view of Temple I and the entire Grand Plaza from on top.
Tikal is huge and you will spend a lot of time walking through the jungle. If you look up you will see all the curious monkeys.
Tikal Temple IV is the highest structure at Tikal. Built around 741 AD, it is 230 feet high. If you are willing to climb the nearly 200 stairs to reach the top you will be rewarded with an amazing view of the jungle.