Since I started blogging, I’ve been really lucky to meet some great blogger friends. This is one of my favorite blogs that I’ve been reading daily! Dave and Deb, Canada’s Adventure Couple, have traveled to way more places than I ever had, and it’s hard for me to keep up with all their amazing adventures. One place that they ventured to was in my neck of the woods – Tikal National Park in Guatemala! As a matter of fact, this place is extra magical for me, because this is where I met my husband:)
We have visited several ruins in our life; The Pyramids of Giza, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat, and Bagan to name a few, but it was when we visited Tikal in Guatemala that we were absolutely blown away.
This unique and fascinating Mayan complex is hidden in the middle of a rainforest. Stone towers rise above the vast jungle canopy in this 576 square km reserve. We arrive early in the morning to watch the sunrise over the ruins from Building IV.
As the mist burns off, howler monkeys can be heard in the distance and the jungle comes alive for the day. I was expecting a different sound from the howler monkeys, more of a high pitch wail. Instead, I found that howls sounded more like a deep growl or roar. We never did see a howler monkey, but their presence was definitely heard. They are considered to be among the loudest animal on earth.
Walking through the complex, we see mounds of dirt shaped in the forms of pyramids, and it takes a few moments to realize that those mounds are actually temples that have yet to be excavated. These pointed hills are covered with rich vegetation and have trees growing out of the tops and twisting through the structures, Tikalâ€™s jungle setting mesmerizes us. We stay very still and quiet and notice that we are surrounded by life. Spider monkeys play in the trees overhead, toucans fly through the air, ocellated turkeys reminiscent of a peacock strut on the grounds, and cute pizotes from the raccoon family run through the trails. All the while, the buzz of frogs and insects never stops.
It is a bird watcher’s paradise in Tikal. There are 300 different types of birds and organized tours can be booked to truly catch sight of everything the park has to offer.
We spend a good chunk of time watching leaf cutter ants work away on a track that looks like a mountain bike trail. We are fascinated by their organization as they carry chunks of leaves from one side of the trail to the other. Taking a closer look, it seems as if they are a well-run construction sight. When one ant stumbles under its load, several others come to help.
Some ants seem to be in charge supervising the entire operation while others run around frantically looking busy, but actually avoiding the hard labor. They must have walked this trail for years to make such an impression in the dirt.
Forgetting for a while that we are in fact in the middle of one of the greatest temple complexes on earth, we snap back to reality and make our way to the Great Plaza to climb to the top of Temple II at 38 metres high. My trepidation is founded since the 44 metre high Temple I has been closed due to two tourists falling to their death.
The climb is steep and the narrow steps are not for the faint of heart. Unlike Chichen Itza (which I hear is no longer open to climb) there isnâ€™t a rope provided to hang onto for safety. So it is a slow climb up with hands holding on tight to the steps above as I make my ascent.
Reaching the top with great relief, I make sure to stay away from the edge. One false move and we could tumble to our death. Trying not to think about the fall, I take in the magnificent view. Seeing only the tops of trees with stone structures jutting through them, I ponder how earth did they build this complex so long ago.
Tikal is truly one of the greatest ruins on earth. It can take days to explore, not only the 10 square kilometers of temples but also the trails and the Guatemala wildlife of the Tikal National Park. Give yourself the time to truly enjoy the peace and beauty of this awe-inspiring wonder of the world.
Tikal is located in the Northern Guatemalan Department of PetÃ©n. Accommodations can be found in the near-by town of Flores. Shuttle buses, minibusses, and local buses will take you to and from the ruins. Day trips can be booked by plane from Belize and Guatemala City.
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Dave and Deb are an adventure travel couple from Canada. They have traveled to over 35 countries where they have taken on extreme adventures from Cycling from Cairo to Cape Town and Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Follow their adventures at The Planet D as they paddle, hike, climb, scuba dive and trek their way around the globe.
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