F for famous for a reason
Ok guys, let’s start with a confession… Over the time and through my (what I like to see as extensive) travels, I have become a spoiled traveler. Many sites or places, described as amazing or not to miss, failed to impress me. I did feel guilty at times for feeling that way, especially when I got challenged with comments such as “what do you mean you weren’t overly impressed with the Australian Reef?” or “OMG! You ok liked Grand Canyon?!”. For my defense, if a place is labeled with the best of the best of the best, I may expect (no I demand!) to be swept off my feet. It cannot be too much to ask, right? Yes it was one of those sorry but I’m not sorry apologies… The best apologies… not… Moving on…
Even though my ankle was nicely supported by my hiking boots, Nora was not impressed with my decision not to wait any longer, such a sweetheart. What can I say? We were just ready to conquer the steep pyramids that are known to rise above the jungle’s lush green canopy and to spend hours walking the numerous trails. I discovered that the Tikal National Park was not overrated and we had a wonderful time. That said, it was a beautiful and peaceful place to explore because 1) we succeeded in avoiding the other 10’000 visitors keen to know whether this site is is famous for a reason (yes, it is famous for a reason or several, I should add) 2) we were lucky with the weather (I would highly recommend you to bribe Petrus if you can). No matter how enthusiastic you are about Mayan architecture / history, a pouring day can wash your enthusiasm down, literally!
If, like us, you only have one day to dedicate to Tikal, its pyramids, temples and Acropolis, you clearly won’t have time to see everything. Sorry my dear Mayan friends! We were however pretty happy with our first exploration. After 6 hours of turning right, left, going up, down, back after missing a turn, we were happily knackered and left with a sense of achievement. Our itinerary looked something like this:
- Walk towards Temple IV, checking out complexes Q and R on the way. We were not sure what the fuss temple IV was about. Yes it is one of the tallest but we really couldn’t tell as most of it was not accessible. We were only 5 people on top of the pyramid so it was nicely quiet up there. Bliss!
- Through the jungle, make your way to the lost world ‘Mundo perdido’, also known as the Great Pyramid. It was a great trail and without any tourist encounter, we felt like real adventurers (well the ones following a sign not to get lost).
- From there , the ‘plaza de los siete templos’ and temple V are only a short walk away
- If you enjoyed the peace and quiet, it was time to get a crowd ‘bath’ by exploring the Gran Plaza (temples I & II) and the Acropolis Central, which was, thankfully, less busy (less glamorous on selfies?)
- While walking to temple VI, we stopped at Grupo G. Both are still work in progress but the walks to reach them were more than welcome after a tourist tsunami that hit at Gran Plaza
We probably walked around 10 kilometers, enjoying the sounds of the howler monkeys over our heads, looking for any animal, willing to cross our path. Beautiful spider monkeys, slowly swinging by, fearless coati (pizote) roaming around like the park was human less and numerous birds I couldn’t name made our day in Tikal unforgettable. The jungle is alive and its cacophony charmed and appeased us.
After such an amazing day out, we were lucky to find a cheap ride to Flores (40 Q. Around 6 dollars) where our wanderlust had decided to take us to. Located on a lake, this island, we found out, was tiny tiny but tiny cute. This was the perfect place to give my ankle a rest (yep, the lousy bugger made me pay my adventurous day in the jungle. I wonder if my ankle teamed up with Nora to teach me a lesson). The lake’s cool water refreshed our stay in sunny and hot Flores while our hostel, la casa del Lacandon, nested on the lake shore, provided us with the perfect location to enjoy a fiery sunset and to explore the town. We spent two wonderful nights in Flores but we could have easily stayed a few more nights. Who knows? I might finally be getting the hang on those things called chilling and slowing down.
However after meeting so many travelers who told us about Semuc Champey, we can’t wait to hit the road again to our next destination. Next stop: Semuc Champey!
Happy trails and remember: Carpe Diem!
Travelling backpacking central america exploration flores guatemala Tikal
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