Tikal is the site of one of the greatest ancient Mayan ruins. Settled more than 2,500 years ago, the ancient city of Tikal is spread over six square miles with over 3,000 separate constructions. Towering temples, immense palaces, enclosed courtyards, ancient ball courts, and intricate causeways remain as a testament to a once-glorious civilization. You explore this grand city of the ancient Maya with experienced Guatemalan guides who provide insight into the contemporary life of the Maya.
Day 1 Tikal
This morning you fly to the island village of Flores in Guatemala. Travel from here by road through the Peten lowlands and gain an insight into rural Guatemalan life along the route. Local drivers whose knowledge of both the roads and the countryside adds to your adventure. Once settled at your lodge, there is time for an afternoon birding walk through some of the park’s rainforest trails, an introduction to the park, and a visit to one of the museums. Enjoy a relaxing evening with a nice meal and discussion of Mayan history.
The year-round growing season, abundant rainfall, and generations of evolution have yielded this area with a huge complexity and diversity of plant life. The forest floor is a spongy mass of roots, fungi, bacteria, and microorganisms which is broken down with the assistance of insects and chemical decay. Each plant fulfills its own ecological niche, as the continuous recycling of the decayed plant matter fuels new growth. This rich soil, in turn, feeds the diverse range of plant life, from the huge buttressed trunks of the Ceiba trees to the smallest of fungi. High above the forest floor is the enchanted world of the broad-leafed canopy. This system has its own unique infrastructure which supports much of the forest’s bird life and a diverse range of mammals. The canopy ranges from the treetops of Cecropias and Gumbo Limbo to the many species of Epiphytes (air plants). This complex and diverse plant and animal life produces biological compounds that are just recently being discovered and understood by the scientific community.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 2 Mayan Temples
Your day of discovery includes a small group guided tour, visiting the many temples, plazas, palaces, and museums within the park boundaries. Your schedule is flexible to allow you to experience Tikal in a unique and personal way, whether your guides are taking you through the ancient ball courts, describing the sports of the Maya, or leading you on ancient footpaths while describing a once-glorious civilization. The highlight of the day is ending your tour high atop a temple to watch the sun beginning to set into the forest below before you return back to the lodge for the night.
While traveling inland through Guatemala, you have great opportunities to view all sorts of animals. Whether you are catching a glimpse of a spiny-tailed iguana perched on a tree branch, or being startled by the tiny red-eyed tree frog jumping from limb to limb, you are totally immersed in a strange and wonderful world. You will more than likely get a visit or two from toucans, sitting high above you and watching your every move, or see a flash of the brilliant red and blue plumage of the scarlet macaw. There are also an assortment of raptors, falcons, and hawks that are scavenging and hunting the rich forest floor. Among the tall trees of the rainforest are the howler monkeys, alerting their troops as you explore the network of trails around the site. The white-lipped peccary, the jaguar, and the puma, all unique to the area, are among some of the larger mammals you may see.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 Tikal/Flores/Onward
For those who wish to rise early, the morning provides a unique opportunity see the site before the majority of the park visitors arrive. This morning also allows for individual exploration of the site as you’ll have an opportunity to visit the more outlying areas and to focus on the wildlife within the park. You may hike through the rainforest to a treetop observatory or visit ruins outside the center core. You depart Tikal by mid-morning traveling back to Flores for your flight to onward. Overnight in a local hotel or connect with international flight home.
What to Expect
Duration 3 days
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.