|Map of Tikal Park - Jungle Lodge hotel was right in the middle of it all.|
We woke early to take advantage of the location and tour the park before the tourist shuttles arrived from Flores. We entered the park at 6:00am with our headlamps on as it was still dark. It was creepy to walk in the dark with the sounds of the howler monkeys nearby. We had heard stories that they throw their feces on tourist that stand under the trees. Uggh. We were able to avoid that fate, but couldn't escape their early morning wake-up calls:
|Monkeys in the trees of Tikal - don't look up!|
We were rewarded for our early start with a quiet park and few others wandering around. Unfortunately it was overcast with some low hanging clouds which lingered all day...but at least we didn't wake up at 4:30am for the "sunrise" tour, as there was no discernible sunrise to be had anyway!
|Gran Plaza and Templo I|
After checking out we headed back out to tour the other half the park. Despite it being a Saturday during high season, the park never seemed all that crowded to us...at most of the outer ring temples and ruins, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We didn't hire a guide for any portion of our day, instead saving relevant web pages on Tikal to the iPad and reading those as we visited each section. Some of the of the paths around the outside ring were pretty decent walks between seeing anything or any person, and you could even see some ruins that were yet to be excavated, still looking like a hill of dirt and rocks with trees growing out of it.
|Templo V (no climbing, limited step-sitting allowed)|
|Exploring the ruins of Tikal|
|Stopping to smell the palm leaves (?) near Templo VI|
|Juli climbing the steps of ruins in Zona Norte|
|View from the top of Templo IV (Templo I and II in the distance)|
|Collared aracari snacking at our hotel|
After a long day of walking, we returned to our hotel where we had arranged for private transportation to the Belize border. The trip took about 2 hours, alternating between paved and unpaved roads. When we got to the border, our driver was happy to help us spend our last Quetzals and show us how to cross the border. We entered Belize without any fanfare and grabbed a “cab” to San Ignacio.