Why You Should go a Tikal Tours

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Day 21: Flores, Guatemala

In general I’m not a fan of tour guides and I was wary of Tikal tours. I’m not a history or archeological buff and I usually get everything I need to know beforehand and with on-site signage.

To be completely honest I usually forget most of the information by the time the sun has set.

In Central America I’m far more wary as there’s so much uncertainty about the Mayans, most often the “facts” are educated guesses and I’ve heard some wild guesses listening in on other tours.

Guatemalan Food

So I wasn’t happy to hear that unlike other sites, Tikal allowed tours in first and the public bus afterwards.

Rather than pout that life wasn’t fair I jumped on a friend’s offer to book me with his tour the next morning.

It was the right decision. Luis, our guide, is only 33 but has an amazing story. His father was a bushman and he grew up in the area.

He was passionate about ecological issues and wanted to share the rainforest with us, which meant showing us every creature he could call into an open space.

Interestingly, he also worked on Survivor Guatemala and is apparently featured in episode 25 – for Survivor fans he says about 60% of the drama is real – which is far more than I had suspected.

Within the first 15 minutes Luis shows us few very large rodents (bigger than some dogs), entices a wild turkey to do its mating call and calls a crocodile to the water’s edge for photos.

Guatemalan Desserts

We hadn’t even entered the main site before he picked up a tarantula and held it next to anyone’s face that was brave enough.

The Tikal tours was delightfully light on dates and “facts” and more about the excavation of the site and plans to preserve the area.

He explained the Mayan calendar and how we really weren’t going to die in 2012, we would just start a new calendar cycle.

As he noticed the group beginning to fade after a couple of hours he arranged for someone to come sell us fruit flavoured ice at the bargain price of one quetzale (12 cents) and recommended the tamarindo flavour.

21 MOST INCREDIBLE: Exotic Fruits

Best of all, when my irrational fear of heights prevented me from climbing the steep ruins, he didn’t say a peep.

I left feeling like people who hadn’t had a tour really missed out on something special.

I think sometimes when people are planning a Central America itinerary they skip out on tours but really thing is something you should do.

If you’re heading to Tikal you may also want to check out the Yaxha ruins, which are about 70km from Flores.

Join the Conversation

  1. Carmie Brogan says:

    Ok, I don’t get it…you won’t climb steps but you “bungee jumped” in New Zealand…..they must have been the mother of all steps!

  2. Carmie Brogan says:

    Oops, I reread your blog and realized that it wasn’t ruin steps but steep ruins…..

  3. ummmm someone needs a manicure!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know, you should see my feet!

  4. Candice says:

    Oh my gawd, that spider. Oh my GOD. I just died.

    Yea, one of my tour guides in Mexico said the same about the Mayan calender. I like that story, I’m stickin’ to it.

  5. Survivor episode 25, is that the one where that guy thought he was in that alliance but they were lying and voted him out?

  6. If that tarantula was that close to me, I’d be running half way around the world already. Lol

    I’m not a history or an architecture buff either. All that stuff evaporates before it enters my ears. Lol

    You made an interesting comment about the “facts” of Mayan culture. It makes me think twice about everything I’ve read and heard before.

  7. Christine says:

    I tend to not be a big fan of tour guides–mostly because I hate being a group that gets shuffled along from spot to spot like cattle–but there have definitely been some exceptions. It’s sometimes nice to hear about a place from the perspective of a local, with a bit more background–I ended up taking a tour of the Dachau concentration camp, and while depressing, I think it made the experience a lot more valuable.

  8. mmm…. “Ice Candy” – I can’t believe you didn’t have that in the Philippines! They also sold those in the street… but no, it wasn’t on a stick.

  9. hey i couldnt steal some more pictures from that amazing day could i?

  10. Manoj Radhakrishnan says:

    The way we solved the problem was staying over at the ruins. There are 3 expensive shacks close to the ruins and if you stay there, you can beat all the buses (tour groups or otherwise) quite comfortably 🙂

    Regardless, looks like you had a great time there. Nice write-up 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The good thing about our guide was he also took us a different route, we didn´t see a lot of other people which helps.

  11. Yay! good thing the world will still be here in 2012, I still have so much to see haha

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s not 2012 yet…

  12. I think in some cases a guide is really worth it. I went to Ephesis in Turkey with a friend (who didnt want a guide) and I feel I missed so much, because I do love history and have an interest in archaeology. But, I went to Pompae with a guide and he was AWFUL and I wandered away on my own.

  13. Bus Colombia says:

    It looks so exciting, I really want to try something like that, actually I love ancestral places and this one in particular seems awesome to me!

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