Cox & Kings Latin America expert, Arturo Tapia, recently took a trip to Guatemala and was impressed by Tikal – previously the most powerful kingdom of the ancient Maya.
Today was going to be memorable for all of us – we were visiting Tikal, one of the most important places in the Mayan world. The adventure started at around 8:30 in the morning and the journey took about an hour from our hotel, Camino Real Tikal. The journey itself was very interesting, driving through dense jungle and exotic vegetation. When we arrived, we were told the history of this ancient site. We marvelled at the diversity of the plants and wildlife, beautiful flowers and the greenery opened the way to the main square surrounded by pyramids and beautiful buildings. Nothing had prepared us for this and what made it so special was in fact the location itself.
After this visit, another hour’s journey took us to El Chiclero town where we were met by some local people and the former teacher of our guide who was born in the village. This lady was very proud of her students and took us to the local museum where we saw lots of ancient artefacts, most of them in perfect condition.
It was around 5 o’clock when we went home for the night, to our camp site in the middle of the Uaxactun ruins and jungle. As it was was getting dark we were given a brief explanation about these ruins, it was one of the first places to be built by the Mayans. The most distinctive structure was the observatory dating from around 600 BC. As it had rained the previous day, the floor had puddles which were covered with blossom. Inside our tent everything was organised very neatly and the bed was very comfortable, even if you could feel the humidity of the jungle in the blankets.
The last highlight of the day was the dinner prepared by the local ladies. We walked with torches to where we were eating; as we walked we saw the main pyramid in the distance that had been lit for us with lots of candles. We had a delicious dinner prepared with local ingredients in a tent at the base of the pyramid. The next morning we got up very early, had a cold shower (you don’t mind cold water when you are in the middle of the jungle as it is so hot and humid). The last surprise before heading off was our breakfast – the bowls that we had seen in the museum were on our table full of bananas and other fruit. The experience of sleeping at this camping site was wonderfully memorable, the night was peaceful and comfortable with the noises of the jungle simply adding to the atmosphere.
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