Towering pyramids poke above the jungle's green canopy to catch the sun. Howler monkeys, swing noisily through the branches of ancient trees as brightly colored parrots and toucans dart from perch to perch in a cacophony of squawks. When the complex warbling song of some mysterious jungle bird tapers off, the buzz of the tree frogs provides background noise and it will dawn on you that this is indeed hallowed ground.
Certainly the most striking feature of Tikal is its steep -sided temples, rising to heights of more than 44m. But Tikal is different from Chichen Itzá, Uxmal, Copán and most other great Mayan sites because it is fairly deep in the jungle. Its many plazas have been cleared of trees and vines, its temples uncovered and partially restored, but as you walk from one building to another you pass beneath the dense canopy of the rain forest. Rich, loamy smells of earth and vegetation, a peaceful air and animal noises all contribute to an experience not offered by other, readily accessible Mayan sites.

If you visit from December to February except some cool nights and mornings, March and April are hottest and driest months. The rains begin in May or June, and with them come the mosquitoes - bring rain gear, repellent and if, you plan on slinging a hammock, a mosquito net. July to September is muggy and buggy. October and November see the end of the occasional rains and return to cooler temperatures; this may be the best time weatherwise - for a Tikal Visit.

TIKAL PARK is open from 6:00 am. to 6:00 pm.

Day trips by air from Guatemala City to Tikal are available with VISION TRAVEL AGENCY (landing in Flores/Santa Elena) are popular, as they allow you to get glimpse of this spectacular site in the shortest possible time. Still, the site is so big that you need at least two days to see even the mayor parts toughly.

Tikal in set is a low hill, which becomes evident as you walk up to the Great Plaza from the entry road. The hill, affording relief from the surrounding low lying swampy ground, may be why the Maya settled here around 700 BC. Another reason was the abundance of flint, the valuable stone used by the ancients to make clubs, spear points, arrowheads and knives. The wealth of flint meant good tools could be made, and flint could be exported in the exchange for other goods. Within 200 years the Maya of Tikal had begun to build stone ceremonial structures and by 200 BC there was a complex of buildings on the site of the North Acropolis.


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