Photo by Gil Cohen
Even though Tikal is in Guatemala, it is a popular tour that many people who are vacationing in Belize do since it is only 2 hours away from the Belizean border.
Tikal is the largest archaeological site in Guatemala and consists of over 3,000 structures that extend over six square miles. Temples, palaces, ceremonial platforms, ball courts, terraces, avenues and plazas are just a few of the top highlights that will fascinate your eyes when you visit.
For those who are not familiar with Tikal, here are five things that you need to know before you visit:
1.) The Maya built Tikal around 600 B.C. and at its peak some 1,500 years ago, it was a wealthy metropolis and home to an estimated 100,000 Maya. Tikal was also an important religious, scientific, and political center.
2.) The tallest structure in Tikal is 65 meters in height and is the temple of the two-headed snake that was built by King Yaxkin Caan Choc in 470 A.D. This temple is a must climb for the adventurous!
3.) Tikal is a unique and magnificent place for wondering because of the engineering accomplishments of the Maya and the jungle splendors of the Petén region in Guatemala. Tikal is also located within a national park where the native flora and fauna flourish relatively undisturbed.
4.) Visit Museo Cerámico in Tikal where you will find some fascinating archaeological exhibits, including a skeleton with ornate jade jewelry in a reproduction of a burial vault, stelae (stone monuments), shells, ceramics, inscribed bones and other items recovered from the excavations. The museum is near the park entrance.
5.) In addition to it's numerous well-excavated temples and pyramids, Tikal presents an excellent opportunity for animal and bird-watching. Roaring howler monkeys and squawking parrots provide nature's soundtrack and along the paths, spider monkeys, gray foxes, coatis-mundis, deer, and peccary are visible to the visitor.