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Tikal National Park

Guatemala, Latin America

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Tikal National Park

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  • Fruit from the cajones tree.- Tikal National Park
  • Complex Q pyramid in Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Complex Q with smooth alters. There are twin pyramids in this complex, yet this is the only one that has been unearthed.- Tikal National Park
  • Complex Q pyramid. - Tikal National Park
  • A picture of Yax Ain II is etched into the stela 22. Alter 10 shows men who are tied up. - Tikal National Park
  • Tarantula along a trail in Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Termite ball along a trail in Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Temple 5C-49, otherwise known as Templo Talud-Tablero, in the Lost World part of Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • On top of temple 5C-49 in the Lost World, Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • The Great Pyramid located in the Lost World area of Tikal National Park is the oldest known building.- Tikal National Park
  • Unearthed part of the Great Pyramid.- Tikal National Park
  • Temple IV as seen from the ground.- Tikal National Park
  • From Temple IV, the Two Headed Snake Temple, you can look over the jungle canopy and see other temples peaking up to the east. Built in 740 A.D., it is the tallest temple in the park and in Mesoamerica.- Tikal National Park
  • This section of Tikal National Park appeared as Planet Yavin in Star Wars, Episode IV.- Tikal National Park
  • Coatimundi.- Tikal National Park
  • Hidden mask (face).- Tikal National Park
  • Pyramid with hidden mask.- Tikal National Park
  • Temple III, The Great Priest Temple.- Tikal National Park
  • Stela 6.- Tikal National Park
  • Allspice tree. The leaves smell just like the spice in your kitchen. The tree is also used for medicinal purposes.- Tikal National Park
  • North Acropolis in Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Stela featuring elaborate carvings are found throughout the park.- Tikal National Park
  • Chac stucco mask, Temple 33, North Acropolis.- Tikal National Park
  • Temple II, The Temple of Masks, so named because of the masks that guard the entry. This temple was to honor Lady Kalajuun Une' Mo', the wife of ruler Jasaw Chan K'awiil I. - Tikal National Park
  • Masks over the entry of Temple II.- Tikal National Park
  • Temple I.- Tikal National Park
  • North Acropolis from the Central Acropolis.- Tikal National Park
  • Inside a structure in the palace.- Tikal National Park
  • Side of the Central Acropolis.- Tikal National Park
  • Temple I from the top of Temple II.- Tikal National Park
  • Can you spot the lizard?- Tikal National Park
  • Armed guards patrol the grounds in Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • The ball court, Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Back of Temple I, Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Structure 5D-43, ballcourt, Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Guided walks lead through the jungle surrounding Tikal National Park.- Tikal National Park
  • Strangler fig tree.- Tikal National Park
  • Agouti.- Tikal National Park
  • Spider monkey.- Tikal National Park
  • Spider monkey.- Tikal National Park
  • Howler monkey.- Tikal National Park
  • Toucan.- Tikal National Park
  • - Tikal National Park
  • - Tikal National Park
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Views. History. Exotic animals. Jungle hiking.
Cons: 
Heat. Mosquitos.
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Region:
Guatemala, LT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Parking Pass: 
Other
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Tikal National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must see when visiting Guatemala. This major Mayan site was inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. Thirty-three rulers have been documented to have reigned during this time period. Palaces, temples, monuments, residential areas and ceremonial platforms are all part of the 3,000 buildings in the area, and only about 30% of the structures have been unearthed. Tikal is estimated to have been home to 100,000 Maya during it's time, making it the Maya's greatest city. In fact, the Maya people still hold traditional ceremonies here.

Tikal means “in the lagoon” or “at the watering hole,” but it is also referred to as “the place of spirit voices.” In ancient times it was said to be called Mutal. Tikal was discovered in 1848 by Ambrosio Tut, a gum collector. Why such a great civilization fell is unknown, but there is speculation that drought or deforestation may have played a role. Excavation was performed largely by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology as well as many independent archaeologists, the most notable being William R. Coe.

There are no rivers or lakes nearby, so the Maya created reservoirs to collect seasonal rainfall. The Maya were extremely advanced and understood mathematics, astronomy and engineering. Tikal residents created a calendar with 365 days, and their lunar cycle has been calculated to only be seven minutes off of actual cycles. The spacial arrangement of the temples are no mistake, either; they have an alignment with the sunrise and sunset at the time of the equinoxes, which is otherwise known as an astronomical matrix. For example, in the oldest section of the park, known as The Lost World, the Great Pyramid aligns with the rising sun at the spring solstice (north building), the equinox (center building), and the winter solstice (south building).​

Covering more than 222.4 square miles in the heart of the jungle, Tikal’s biodiversity comprises wetlands, savannah, tropical palm and broadleaf forests. There are 54 species of mammals and 333 species of birds within the park. You will cross the paths of busy leaf cutter ants at work, see termite balls, and catch glimpses of the animals that call this park home. Bird calls and howler monkeys can be heard throughout the park.

The park has two hotels and a campground for guests who want to visit for more than one day. There is a museum and restaurant near the front. The park has several bathrooms near picnic tables under a covering where drinks and snacks are sold (cash only). U.S. dollars are usually accepted, but you can exchange some money prior to your visit. Although you can visit the park on your own, you would be doing yourself a favor by hiring one of the extremely knowledgeable local guides.

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