Immersed in the dense Guatemalan jungle where the peaceful air is periodically shattered by the roars of howler monkeys are the phenomenal ruins of Tikal, described as one of the wonders of Central America. We’ve seen our fair share of ruins by now and have to say Tikal is definitely the most impressive so far!

“When the complex warbling song of some mysterious jungle bird tapers off, the buzz of tree frogs fills the background and it will dawn on you that this is, indeed, hallowed ground” Lonely Planet, 2010

Tikal is one of the oldest Mayan sites, with evidence of habitation as early as 700 BC and in its hey-day had a population of around 100,000 people. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979

The original site is 16 square kilometres and had over 4000 buildings which housed the artisans, astrologers, farmers and warriors of the Mayan Civilisation. Underneath the current north acropolis there are more than 100 previous structures. Many of the temples peek their heads through the forest canopy and a climb to the top of them allows for magnificent views across the jungle.

Tikal is different to the other sites we have visited in that the jungle has not been totally cleared away to allow for tourism. In order to go from one pyramid to another you venture down walking tracks. While the main tracks are one car wide to allow for emergencies and disabilities the kilometres of trails mean that you can sometimes feel completely alone with nature.
Awesome little frog
The site is known for its diversity of nature and everyone assured us we would see plenty of it during the day. We certainly weren’t disappointed! Within the first 20 minutes we spotted a group of spider monkeys swinging through the trees above our heads and a little orangey brown frog camouflaged so well into the leaves that we walked past him. Were it not for another group behind us stopping we would have missed him altogether.

The protected reserve around the site saves thousands of trees from logging and rare birds and animals from the black market. The forest is home to over 200 species of birds and even the jaguar, although we weren’t lucky enough to spot one of those!Ty shared his peanut snacks with the racoon–like Coatimundis, much to the amusement of the Mexican tour group nearby.

At the start of the day we had just missed out on seeing a pair of toucans and Ty was really gutted walking back to the entrance that we haddn’t seen any others. We had seen a couple from a real distance when we were in Iguazu Falls 4 years ago but Ty was excited about seeing them closer up. A couple of minutes later we were watching another cool looking red bird when a toucan flew over head. It was almost like he was showing off for us, darting between the branches and then turning his head to pose when we took a photo of him.
Om nom nom, thanks Ty!
Looking across the jungle
Staying in the barrio we were given the opportunity to enjoy the traditional rice, beans and tortillas that Guatemalans enjoy every day. Three times a day. While they do mix it up with the occasional egg, or piece of goats cheese, we are used to a broader range of foods in our diet so It definitely took a bit of getting used and we were really excited to be able to stop and have fried chicken for dinner that night on our way home! First world problems!

Next stop: Semuc Champey
The central plaza

05/13/2013 3:17am

Ahhh toucans!! So cool


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