We had one goal in coming to Tikal: see some coatis. I know. It’s weird. I guess we were interested in the ruins as well. You can go here or here or here to find useful information on Tikal. I just have these 3 useful tips to add for visiting Tikal.
Get your transportation from Fernando Rodas. He is amazingly friendly and can tell you lots about the history of the region and has very reasonable rates.
Get to the park by 6am. There will be very few people and it will not yet be unbearably hot. This is best done by staying in one of the lodges in the vicinity of the ruins. We liked Tikal Inn for the pool that you can lounge in during the extremely hot and humid late morning/early afternoon hours. If you are on a budget, there are also campgrounds near the park. You will need a flashlight to enter the park at this hour. Most of the time it is misty in Tikal so rushing to get to Temple 4 with all of the other tour groups will get you a view of fog rather than sunrise. Save it for a bit later and instead go to one of the side temples and have it all to yourself (might I suggest Temple 6 to see monkeys in the morning).
Bring a raincoat. It rains all of the time. Tikal is in the rainforest. You should probably also wear mosquito repellent.
After our 3 day trek, we decided to relax at Lake Atitlan for a few days. Best choice ever! The lake is beautiful and calming and there are lots of little villages to visit if you get tired of just lazing about. Here’s some of things that we loved at the lake:
We loved staying at Casa del Mundo. It’s set into the mountain near the town of Jaibalito and is extremely peaceful. There are kayaks to rent (go in the morning, the wind on the lake is no joke) and terraces with places to jump into the lake and swim. The food is also delicious; it’s just generally a lovely place to sit and read and relax. Continue reading “Relaxing at Lake Atitlan”→
Quetzaltrekkers is a fantastic organization and this was an amazing trek. The guides are all volunteers and they donate all of their proceeds to a local school. They were also super friendly; they arranged our transportation from Guatemala and also accommodated us when our shuttle was late to the pre-trip meeting. Everything (camping gear, food, housing) is included in the trek price of 750 quetzales. Over the 3 days we ate delicious food, saw beautiful landscapes, and met many wonderful people. Also, there’s a sauna and smoothies and some of the best trail mix ever! If you have time and are reasonably fit, do not hesitate. Just go! Words can’t demonstrate how beautiful everything on the hike was so I’ll try to do it with pictures.
After our strenuous hike, we basically wanted to do nothing so we spent the day leisurely wandering around Antigua. Here’s our itinerary for a chill day in Antigua.
First stop: Coffee! We walked to Fernando’s Kaffee where I got an iced tea and my boyfriend got what he later determined to be the best coffee in Guatemala. They have a peaceful courtyard to sip your brew and also lots of cool things for sale. I bought a coin purse made from an old truck tire that cost about $5.
Antigua is a great base for exploring volcanoes and ruins. We went for a overnight hike with Ox Expeditions up Acatenango (with an optional extension to Fuego) and it was an amazing experience. While it’s not cheap ($89/person including lunch, dinner, and breakfast and camping gear), I felt taken care of and the porters and guides were really friendly. Note that the hike is strenuous and you may get altitude sickness so it’s important to go with a knowledgeable guide. Continue reading “Hiking up Acatenango Volcano in photos”→