03.12.2007 - 05.12.2007 25 °C
From Lanquin we took a comfortable gringo shuttle straight to Flores, near Tikal. As we were ahead of schedule, we stayed in Flores one night to catch up with our reservation at the Jaguar Inn in Tikal itself - this hotel is one of three located inside of the Tikal National Park and it is pretty expensive! So we decided to stay back in Flores for one night to rest and be ready the next day to take full advantage of our posh night, arriving early and leaving late. We went with the flow and got taken to the current flavour of the month hostel in Flores, Los Amigos, where the rest of the people on the shuttle wanted to go. It was a good choice: the hostel is pleasant, offers all possible facilities that backpackers need including lockable charging units for mobiles and ipods, and all the usual tours and connections and cheap accomodation. We ended up cancelling our second night in the Jaguar Inn and sleeping in a dorm again in Los Amigos the last night, since it cost a fifth.
Tikal is the largest of the ancient ruined cities of the Maya civilization. It is located in the El Petén department of Guatemala, in the north of the country, in the jungle.
Tikal was one of the major cultural and population centers of the Maya civilization. Though monumental architecture at the site dates to the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, ca. 200 AD to 850 AD, during which time the site dominated the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica, such as central Mexican center of Teotihuacan - which we are visiting as our very last spot of our journey, sigh sigh... Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century. It is not really known how it all ended, theories mention either some major social upheaval or maybe an earthquake.
The ruins lie on lowland rainforest. Conspicuous trees at the Tikal park include gigantic ceiba, the sacred tree of the Maya, tropical cedar and mahogany. Regarding the fauna, agouti, coatis, gray fox, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, Harpy Eagles, toucans and green parrots can be seen there regularly, and in fact we saw them all apart from the harpy eagle, which is a pretty rare bird these days. Lots of monkeys everywhere, really nice. I was here before and cannot recollect seeing or hearing a single monkey, which is pretty strange. Is it the memory or I just did not take any notice?
We went into the park in the afternoon and then again at 6 in the morning, when a coat of fog wrapped everything. So we went back to bed for a couple of hours and then into the park again - minus Gregory, who was not feeling too well and stayed back at the hotel playing chess...mmm...
Here are some pics:
Tomorrow we are off to Belize. We are going straight to Caye Caulker, the backpackers spot, from where we should be boarding a Raggamuffin snorkelling cruise of about three days.