Tikal, Guatemala

This ancient city juts out from the jungle like something from a sci-fi movie. It has been featured in Star Wars due to its almost otherworldy-ness. The striking temples peek from atop the canopy of the dense jungle. Walking up to each temple, you begin to feel absolutely insignificant, knowing of all the souls that have walked in your path before you. The magnitude of it all, it’s overwhelming and quieting at the same time.

I went with a group and we had a guide who was proud of his heritage and talked in depth about the past uses of each pyramid and temple. We sat in front of Temple V for about an hour and just reflected on its immense size and glory.

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The highlight of the tour was definitely climbing to the top of Temple III and gazed out at the wilderness below us. Nothing can make you feel stranger than standing atop a Mayan structure that was built thousands of years ago but is still taller and more sound than some of our modern buildings.

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We spent the entire day at Tikal and although it was a long day, it was well worth a visit. We stayed the night at Hotel Tikal Inn and travelers beware, the power shuts off at 10 pm so prepare for abrupt absolute darkness and still air while you’re sleeping. The upside to this sprawling campus though is the pool, it’s cooled year round so it’s always refreshing. I think I spent more time in the pool than in the room.

At night, we were able to hear two different howler monkey tribes calling to each other for a couple hours; it alarms you because the howler monkeys in the area have a very distinct call, it’s very guttural. I honestly thought there was a jaguar outside my room for the longest time. My mistake.

Tikal National Park by itself is absolutely stunning and there are local vendors that are more than willing to bargain for hand made souvenirs so definitely be on the lookout.

Overall, Tikal is a place of beauty and tranquility but pick your timing. The bigger monuments can become very crowded and it loses it’s appeal. They are much better appreciated in solace.

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