What to Bring Along
- Comfortable clothes for the tour
- Comfortable shoes for walking around the site
- bug spray
- snacks & extra water
- spending money (for souvenirs. there are money changers at the border)
- Intensity: Easy
Discover the heart of the Maya World, just a 2 hour drive from Belize’s western border. Tikal is an Archaeological Maya city located in the northern Petén province of Guatemala. Discovered in the 1900’s, Tikal represents one of the most fascinating Mayan archaeological sites of the Mundo Maya. During the time of the Maya Empire, Tikal was a very important and influential city, controlling vast stretches of territory and dominating smaller city-states. It was considered one of largest and most powerful cities of the Classic Period, until it was suddenly abandoned over 1000 years ago and the jungle outgrew the massive temples and structures. It is still a mystery as to why the population suddenly disappeared and ceased to exist.
Archaeological records near Tikal go back to about 1000 B.C. and by 300 B.C. or so it was already a thriving city. By the Maya early Classic era (roughly 300 A.D.) it was an important urban center, thriving as other nearby cities declined. The Tikal royal lineage traced their roots to Yax Ehb' Xook, a powerful early ruler who lived sometime during the Preclassic period.
The Maya civilization began to crumble around 700 A.D. and by 900 A.D. or so it was a shadow of its former self. Teotihuacán, once such a powerful influence on Maya politics, itself fell into ruin about 700 and was no longer a factor in Maya life, although its cultural influences in art and architecture remained. Historians disagree on why the Maya civilization collapsed: it may have been due to famine, disease, warfare, climate change or any combination of those factors. Tikal aslo declined, the last recorded date on a Tikal monument is 869 A.D. and historians think that by 950 A.D. the city was essentially abandoned.
Tikal is one of Guatemala's most important tourism sites, enjoyed annually by thousands of visitors from all over the world. Tikal National Park, which included the archaeological complex and the surrounding rainforest, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although the ruins themselves are fascinating, the natural beauty of Tikal National Park merits a mention as well. The rainforests around Tikal are beautiful and home to many birds and animals, including parrots, toucans and monkeys.