Guatemala / Destinations / Tikal

Tikal

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  • Mayan pyramid at Tikal, Guatemala
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Vast Mayan city surrounded by jungle

In a region that boasts more than its fair share of impressive, ruined city’s, few can match the sheer scale of Tikal.

Located in the hot, jungle-covered plains of Peten in the north of Guatemala, Tikal can trace its history as far back as the 4th century BC although it reached its peak in terms of population size, power and influence in what is known as the Classic Period, approximately 200 to 900 AD.

As the largest and most aggressive of a number of Mayan cities, Tikal was often at war with its neighbours, including Calakmul in modern day Mexico.

With improvements in digital scanning of the surrounding area, which has unearthed previously hidden, small-scale development, it is now thought that Tikal’s population reached as high 100,000. Yet by the end of the 10th century the city lay almost totally abandoned, for reasons that are still being debated today. Was it a result of war, ecological degradation or a combination of the two?

Visiting Tikal today is very straightforward and although the site attracts thousands of visitors a day, it is so large that, aside from the main ruins, you can easily find yourself all on your own.

Many visitors opt to arrive at the site in time to see the sun-rise but, no matter what time you choose to visit, you’ll need to allow at least 4 hours to even begin to do it justice. For those who wish to spend the whole day, there are both restaurants and accommodation near the park entrance.

Accommodation in Tikal

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