I will be staying in AC and my wife and I usually take a day or two off from diving and do some sightseeing. We are considering a trip to Tikal. Has anyone visited Tikal from AC? What tour operators offer that trip? How did you like it? Thanks for any help
Posted By: SP Daily
Re: Tikal - 02/29/04 03:57 PM
Do a search (above right) for Tikal. You will get loads of information.
Posted By: specv
Re: Tikal - 02/29/04 06:13 PM
Been there, done that. My two kids spent three days at Jaguar Inn in the park. The closest lodging is a 30 minute walk from the first ruins and some sites in the park are 30 minutes further from there.
Mayawalk tours from San Ignacio will take you at 8am (two hour drive one way) pay all the fees (border, park,etc) guide you around the park and have you back by 5pm for about $80us. You will only see a few selected sites on a one day trip. Nothing beats watching the sun set from Temple IV or listening to the monkeys first thing in the morning. Mayawalk made a special trip ($80)to pick us up on the third day so we could make the Novelo in Benque and the 4pm Thunderbolt back to AC.
A guide is a good way of understanding things. Good tour guide books would do the same if you are willing.
We stayed at the cheapest park accomodations ($50us a night) and it was fine (see my photos in the Vacation Photos thread). The cafe was OK and had internet access. We did not go to the other cafes but the accomidations were a bit nicer, even a pool.
If you stay in the park, plan on doing several 3-4 hour treks into the ruin sites. Then chilling/eating/naping... My 8 and 12 year olds never complained, I kept it upbeat. You will get tired, wet(in rainy season), hot/wet (dry season is very humid) and sore (walking, walking, walking) from ascending/decending temples.
Posted By: raskage
Re: Tikal - 02/29/04 07:11 PM
I didi this a couple years ago. Spend a night in the park, we stayed at Junge Lodge. Absolutely get up to walk to Temple IV for the sunrise. Off duty park guides will lead you for a couple bucks. It is a breathtaking experience. I also got up in the middle of the night and hiked into the plaza by myself. Bring extra flashlight batteries.
We were there last month and took a package offered by Tropic Air. From AC you fly back to Belize City and change planes for Flores (ours was a very small one with the pilot and 4 passengers - they fly low and you get to see a lot). The package included a night and breakfast at the Hotel Isla Flores, bus to the ruins, tour guide, lunch at the Jungle Lodge in Tikal, then back to the airport for the return trip. It was relatively expensive, but a good trip and it was very easy since all the details are organized. We're not fluent in Spanish, so this was helpful throughout our time in Guatemala. We found a delightful little restaurant for dinner in Flores and several shops to browse through in the afternoon. Our hotel was unable to cash traveller's checks but we found an atm in Santa Elena (Banco Industrial - we reccommend you take a cab from the bridge if you go - Santa Elena is not quaint and does not feel safe like Flores). Our fellow travellers were able to cash a traveller's check at a different hotel. Get small bills if you can - no one has change.
The ruins are fantastic. The trip was wonderful.
Posted By: Anonymous
Re: Tikal - 03/01/04 03:44 AM
I've visited friends in Santa Elena and don't think it's at all unsafe. Obviously no guarantees, but I've walked around alone day and night without feeling in the least bit uncomfortable. I know girls who do the same, equally totally safely. Incidentally, the same is true for San Pedro, though certainly not for Belize City.
Posted By: specv
Re: Tikal - 03/01/04 04:38 AM
Flores and Santa Elena are one thing. Smaller places closer to Tikal (not in the park) are another situation that needs concern. Backpackers stay there with no problems, it's the gold toting/rolex wearing gringos that have no clue that are ripped off.
Be safe, Jeff
Pedro 2 - glad to hear that Santa Elena is "not unsafe" in your opinion. We walked from the causeway up the hill to the main street and stopped at all the banks until we finally found the ATM and did not feel comfortable. It's a bit of a chaotic place and we didn't know our way around. We are not fluent in Spanish. We weren't sure if we should be more afraid of the taxi driver that took us back to Flores (who hacked into his rag and spit out the window and was very impatient with us) or of the pack of young policemen carrying large guns. We have travelled the world a bit and simply felt ill at ease in Santa Elena. We enjoyed ourselves nevertheless, and feel enriched by our time in Guatemala, Santa Elena included. That's what world travel is all about........ And, by the way, we felt very comfortable on Ambergris Caye - day or night, alone or in a crowd.....
SpecV - Thanks for your input. Flores and Santa Elena may be "one thing" to you, but they are really quite different, in my mind. Flores has a lot more history and is quaint. Santa Elena is newer and more chaotic. Flores is really an ancient relic and a tourist destination. The "Rough Guide" that I have says it quite accurately "The modern emphasis lies across the water in the ugly, sprawling twin towns of Santa Elena and San Benito.....Flores retains a genteel air....it offers pleasant surroundings in which to stay, eat and drink". My husband and I are not, by the way "gold toting/rolex wearing gringos"
This was not our first visit to Central America, nor will it be our last. I was simply pointing out that some folks might feel a bit intimidated in certain areas.
California Girl- You say the trip via tropic air to Tikal was expensive. How much did it cost if you dont mind. Thanks
The Tropic Air package was about $250 each for a one night stay. They have other packages as well. Ours included everything except dinner in Flores and we had a very nice one for the equivalent of about $12 US. An important thing to remember is the departure tax - seems to me it was about $30 US per person. You pay that directly to the airport when you leave Guatemala (after having paid the usual Belize departure tax when you leave BC). Tropic Air has a good website and their toll free number is 1-800-422-3435 - very helpful, friendly staff. Whatever you do, have a wonderful trip!
California Girl- Thanks for the info. By the way, where in Calif do you live. My wife was born and raised in the Bay area. I lived there for 11 years as well.
Dave - we live in SoCal - Long Beach. My husband's from the city of Napa and I hail from Toronto originally but we've both been here for 20 years now, so I think we're pretty much "natives" by now.
Enjoy your trip to AC and to Tikal, if you go.
Posted By: Badco
Re: Tikal - 03/02/04 07:06 PM
California girl? Did I meet you & your sister by the pool at Paradise villas last month? I too am a fan of flores & told some nice ladies about the Tropic Air trip. Could it be you?
Badco - Nope, that was someone else. Glad to hear other folks enjoyed this trip, though.
Posted By: Badco
Re: Tikal - 03/03/04 05:52 AM
Thanks calif. girl for the reply.