Everything You Need to Know About the Tikal Ruins in Guatemala
There are many ancient ruins all over Central America. But Tikal, Guatemala, nears the top of the list for so many reasons.
Tikal, Guatemala, is one of the most famous Mayan ruins from the Classic Period. It is located in north-central Petén, Guatemala.
Tikal consists of over 3000 buildings including several large and looming temples. There are nine groups of plazas that are connected by bridges and causeways.
The main center of the city is 500 acres in size!
Read on to learn all about Tikal ruins and what you need to know before you visit.
You can’t visit these Guatemala attractions without first understanding some of the Tikal history.
The city began around 1000 B.C. Yet it wasn’t a major city until about 300 B.C. Around 750 A.D., the Tikal ruins were a thriving metropolitan city home to about 15 million Mayans.
If you could travel back in time to the Tikal of 700 A.D, you would have found an advanced city with a library, a school, and a hospital. There were also sports arenas, palaces, and temples.
Recently, lasers have discovered a network of roads that connect more than 60,000 homes, temples and even a fortress for times of war.
There isn’t much rainfall in the region. So the Maya controlled the flow of water with canal, reservoirs and drainage systems.
The odd thing about Tikal, Guatemala is that although this city was the height of power for Mesoamerica, it didn’t last. By 950 A.D., the city was a ghost town.
Archeologists still don’t understand why. It may have been drought, deforestation or something else.
The word Tikal comes from the word ti ak’al in the Yucatec Maya language meaning “at the waterhole.”
The architecture in Tikal is made from limestone. Many of these buildings include inscribed stone monuments.
When you explore to Tikal, you will be drawn to Temple IV – the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas. At 70 meters (230 feet) tall, this temple is a great climb with a rewarding view.
You may recall seeing the breathtaking view in Star Wars: Episode IV.
The second highest temple, Temple I is 47 meters (154 feet) tall. This is called the Temple of the Great Jaguar. It was built for a king named Lord Jasaw Chan K’awil who died near the end of the civilization.
Next to Temple I sits Temple II. This temple, known as the Temple of the Mask. This temple was likely built by Lord K’awil for his wife. The structure is perfectly oriented towards the rising sun.
Make sure to climb up so you can see the magnificent views of the city and the jungle.
The main gates of Tikal park open at 6 am and close at 6 pm each day. Tickets to get into the park cost less than $20USD for adults.
You can buy a map outside of the visitor’s center. But unless you want to keep the map as a souvenir, opt to take a picture of the map on your phone instead.
There are many great walking trails in the park that wind through and around the temple complexes.
In the main area, you’ll find a visitor’s center, tour guide service, a museum, three hotels, a campground, a souvenir shop and a couple of restaurants.
There is no ATM on-site, so make sure to bring the cash you’ll need.
Sunrise or Sunset at the Tikal Ruins
Many tourists opt for either a sunrise or sunset tour of Tikal. With such impressive heights and a lush canopy of the jungle, it’s no wonder why.
Both sunrise and sunset are great options. There are pros and cons to both.
Keep in mind that you must pay for a guide to do a sunrise tour of Tikal. You can expect to pay around $14 USD per person. Make sure to buy your ticket the day before because the ticket booth at Tikal won’t be open when you arrive for the sunrise tour.
Sunrise at Tikal
Sunrise at Tikal means that you have a very early morning. If you are staying at Flores, your bus may leave at 3 am.
The good thing about sunrise at Tikal is that you will enjoy cooler temperatures and have access to the park when there are many fewer visitors. This makes for a private and special experience.
Sunset at Tikal
If you aren’t really an early riser, sunset at Tikal may be your best option. Yet, be warned that you will arrive during the hottest part of the day.
If you plan to do this experience, you should think about staying at the on-site hotels or campground. The last bus returning to Flores leaves at 5:30 pm which doesn’t give you time to enjoy the sunset.
If you come to Tikal as part of a Guatemala Adventure Tour, you will already have a Guatemala guide to help you get the most of the experience.
Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothes
It’s important to remember that Tikal, Guatemala is a jungle. It will be hot and muggy even in the evening.
If you plan to climb up a few temples or explore the paths, you can expect some uphill and uneven paths.
Make sure to wear good walking shoes and clothes that breathe well. Bring a refillable water bottle that keeps your water cold. It will be a relief in the heat of mid-day.
Looking for the Perfect Tour?
Thanks for reading all about the history and tips for visiting the Tikal ruins. We hope this article helps you get prepared for your Guatemala adventure.
Looking for a tailor-made tour in central America? Learn more about how Martsam Travel can make your dreams come true.
Fantastic Belize Tours to Put on Your Must-Do List!
Belize is a country Located in Central America. It is mostly sunny and suitable for touristic tours. It is a small country, but the amount of places to visit and sites to see is unbelievable.
You have traveled and stopped in Belize for a one-day rest before boarding another plane to your destination. This does not give you a chance to do some exploring on the rich history and culture on your next vacation set Belize as your destination to experience the beautiful country.
The country’s lots of adventures and a massive culture makes it a tourist destination. During your vacation, make sure to experience the beauty of Belize tours.
There are many activities someone can do in Belize, and there is also a lot of learning to be done on their culture, histories, languages, and amazing sceneries. These are the ten things you must do during your next trip to Belize:
1. Take a Fly on Top of The Blue Hole
The blue holes location is on the coast of Belize. It is the largest ocean concavity in the whole world. It is one of the seven wonders of Belize’s country heritage site. With its breathtaking appearance, you can’t miss on the touristic places in Belize.
The best way to see it is from the top of the air.
The blue hole and even other destinations in Belize are on the list of Martsam travels tours. They do pickups from literally any hotel in the country. Add a blue hole to your to-do list and ensure you visit the place for a breathtaking experience.
2. Visit Mayan Ruins
After Maya civilization, many magnificent monuments, ceremonial centers, pyramidal temples, and cities were left due to war and famine. Maya ruins had a significant impact on the country’s historic sites.
Mayan ruins consist of twelve significant ruins. Caracol and Lamanai are the biggest ruins. Some of the ruins you are allowed to climb, and some are you are not allowed.
When visiting Mayan ruins start with Xunantunich which is on the western highway. Then head over to Altun Ha and Lamanai which are In Nothern Belize. There are many other Mayan ruins, make an effort to visit them.
3. The Belize Zoo
Belize is home to a broad range of wildlife. An excellent way to spot them is by visiting the nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. Nonetheless, visiting the Belize zoo is the easiest way to spot Belizean wildlife.
The Belize zoo differs with an ordinary zoo since it has rescued native Belize animals and is enclosed in an area large enough to replicate their natural environment. This zoo concentrates education conservation, and wildlife protection is the spotlight of this zoo.
If you love animals or have a family with kids, then the perfect activity for you might be visiting the Belize zoo.
4. Dive in the Belize Barrier Reef
It comes second in the ranking of world most extensive coral reefs with beautiful corals plus islands. The appropriate time to dive is from December to July. There are breathtaking waters, and sandy beaches and this beauty is the reason you should dive.
It brings profit to Belize’s fishing industry. It is among the top touristic places to visit and is also known for scuba diving.
While diving you’ll be able to see shellfish, hammered shark and many others. There are many islands on the Belize coastline. The island has hotels and lodges for tourists. The hotels have dive tours.
5. Visit the Jungle
The southern Belize Maya Mountains have an inland rain-forest in them. The rain-forests have exotic birds and amazing wildlife.
There is a variety of stuff you can do in the jungle. You can go hiking through the jungle, find a waterfall, and visit a butterfly farm and many exciting activities. The resort in the forest is the best location to have your breakfast with the amazing monkeys.
Belize has a lot of white sand beaches. Some have villages on their border which are friendly, and some have jungles on their borders.
With beauty, you will not be resistant to the beaches. Your vacation will not be complete without visiting the beaches.
7. Have a Dance with the Garifuna
Garifuna is a culture in Belize that is a mixture of carbs and African tribes. They are found in a village called Hopkins.
The village is friendly, and the people are welcoming. They share their culture with whenever visitors are there. You open yourself to learn about them and have fun with them.
8. Do Some Exploring in The City
It is the largest city in the country. Some time back it used to be the capital city, but the hurricane crashed it.
It is an exciting city to explore, and it has much historical information to e learned. When you visit the country, take your time to visit the city.
9. Visit Local Farmers and Fishermen
You can have significant interaction with the farmers and fishers of Belize and also practice what they do. Visit their market places where they sell their produce .You can also buy stuff from them because they have almost everything and also offer amazing dishes.
10. Go Cave Tubing
You’ll always be near water no matter the country you’re in, in Belize. Cave tubing is an extraordinary way to explore the beauties of Belize, believe it or not.
Cave tubing involves traveling along the Cave Branch River into the Ancient Maya caves that were once used for rituals. It’s also possible to go for Zip-Lining in this same location.
Wrap-Up on Belize Tours
Belize is a place to visit. You don’t want to miss out on the fantastic sceneries. You will not, at any point, regret visiting Belize because of the constant sites of beautiful landscapes and nature.
There is still plenty of things to do on Belize tours. If you are aware of any other activities one can do, be free to share with us.
For those who have visited Belize before, feel free to comment below on how your trip was. Visit our blogs for more interesting facts.
Looking to Prepare Your Next Vacation? 10 Incredible Reasons to Visit Guatemala
It doesn’t get as much hype as its neighbors, but Guatemala is a star on its own. From the pristine beaches to lush jungles, there’s endless beauty to see here.
It’s no surprise that nearly 2 million tourists visit each year.
Besides the spectacular scenery, there’s a fascinating culture and history. Whether you volunteer or attend a festival, Guatemala has a way of enriching lives. The food isn’t bad, either.
Are you planning a Central American getaway? Make sure that Guatemala is on your list. Here are eight amazing things to do in Guatemala.
1. Infamous Coffee Beans
There’s a reason the biggest coffee chains in the world source beans from Guatemala. The beans grown here are unique and high-quality. One of the hot spots in Guatemala for producing beans is Antigua.
A traditional Antiguan coffee bean is full-bodied and smoky. It has an intensely rich flavor that doesn’t need assistance from cream or sugar.
As a visitor to the country, exploring a coffee plantation will be a highlight of your trip. Explore the fincas and see how their infamous beans get produced. You’ll even get to sample different brews and take some home.
2. Gorgeous Lakes
Guatemala has over 100 lakes dotting the country’s landscape. The most popular and well-known is Lake Atitlán.
Lake Atitlán formed in the basin of a volcano. It erupted 84 000 years ago, leaving behind a massive caldera which filled with river water.
Tourists can hike to Lake Atitlán and explore its surrounding wilderness. You can also take a shuttle or taxi to the lake and then explore on foot.
3. Yummy Traditional Cuisine
You won’t go hungry in Guatemala, nor will you want to. The cuisine is quintessentially Central American, with a Guatemalan flair.
Prepare your palate for corn tamales, chili rellenos, and chicken pepián. Corn, chilis, and beans are the main ingredients in most Guatemalan dishes.
The largest farmers market in Central America is in Guatemala, the Chichicastenango Market. Here you’ll find hundreds of vendors selling food, home goods, textiles, and more. You could spend the day wandering around these lively corridors.
It’s the perfect spot to pick up some souvenirs or sample the traditional Mayan cuisine.
4. The Ancient Mayan Ruins
The majority of Guatemalans originate from the Mayans. It’s one of the few places in the world where indigenous people hold the majority population.
You can see evidence of the ancient Mayans all over Guatemala. One of the most popular places to visit is the Tikal Ruins. After hiking three hours in the jungle, you’ll come upon a spectacular stone pyramid, Tikal.
You may recognize it from one of the original Star Wars movies. George Lucas thought it was so mystical that he used Tikal for the setting of a different planet. You’ll also notice other-worldly creatures like tarantulas and pisotes.
5. Adventure Tourism
Adrenaline junkies, rejoice! Guatemala has some of the best adventure tours in the world. If you want to get your blood racing and heart pumping, pack your outdoor gear.
Amidst the acres of the untouched jungle are over 37 volcanos, some active, some not. Most will require strenuous hiking so wear proper attire.
Speaking of hiking, make sure you check out Semuc Champey. This 300-metre limestone bridge is surrounded by lush jungle and turquoise waters. You can snorkel, swim, scuba dive, and even explore underwater caves.
El Mirador National Park is also worth seeing if you can afford five days of hiking to get there. Or, hop on a helicopter tour to shorten the trek. You’ll get to witness the ancient El Mirador Mayan ruins, a site that few venture to see.
6. Tons of Volunteer Opportunities
Some tourists come to Guatemala with altruistic intent. There are hundreds of charity organizations that operate in Guatemala. Many have awesome volunteer programs.
One of the most compelling organizations is The Turtle Conservation Program. Sea turtles are at drastically endangered due to human interference and pollution.
Volunteers can help in the hatchery with sea turtle eggs. Or, work on the beach protecting the nested eggs from intruders. Volunteers are integral to the work that biologists and conservationists do in Guatemala.
7. Lively Festivals
Guatemala has plenty of celebrations year-round for you to take part in. Besides the Christmas holidays, there’s Independence Day, All Souls Day, and more.
Every year on Dia de la Independencia, Guatemalans spend weeks celebrating. The country gets adorned in blue and white and hosts many fiestas. There are military parades, fireworks, and fairs.
All Souls Day is similar to Day of the Dead in Mexico in which Guatemalans celebrate their ancestors. The Roman Catholic Church builds a float to parade the streets. Families decorate and repair their relative’s tombstones and graves.
8. Bursting with Biodiversity
Guatemala has an abundance of biodiversity in its jungles and lakes. Step off the beaten path and you’re likely to run into a Guatemalan creature.
Expect to see toucans, armadillos, spider monkeys, and vampire bats. As for predators, there are jaguars and panthers in the jungles.
Half of the forests in Guatemala are considered “primary forests”. This means they have one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.
The Guatemalan people are passionate about protecting their wildlife and biodiversity. The UN Environment Organization works closely with Guatemala to keep these spaces safe.
Interested in Learning More Things to Do in Guatemala?
This gorgeous and welcoming country is a must for any Central American traveler. Looking for affordable accommodation, adventure tourism, and amazing cuisine? Then look no further than Guatemala.
Besides having a riveting history, Guatemala’s people and culture are lively and festive. Enjoy one of the annual festivals and get to know the local community.
There are endless things to do in Guatemala. The longer your trip, the better!
If you’re ready to plan your vacation, make sure you book a tour with Martsam Travel. Our experienced tour guides will take you to all the best insider spots. Safety and security are our biggest concerns, next to making sure you have an amazing time.
10 Reasons Why You Should Start Planning Your Belize Vacation Today
Are you in need of a getaway, but don’t know where to go? Do you crave the feeling of the sand between your toes and the view of the sun setting over the ocean?
Sounds like you need to consider planning a Belize vacation!
Belize is one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful hidden gems. It’s not as crowded with tourists as other tropical destinations, but it’s just as – if not more – worthwhile to visit.
Here are 10 reasons why you should put a trip to Belize at the top of your travel bucket list.
1. To Soak in the Beauty of Belize Beaches
If all you do in Belize is sit on the beach and soak your worries away, you won’t regret it. The beaches here are absolutely beautiful. They make you want to slow things down, kick back, and relax.
This goes for the bigger, more popular beaches and the smaller, off-the-beaten-path ones alike. Whichever shore you end up on, you’re in the right place.
2. To Visit the Cayes
For those who want something other than the traditional beach day, plan a visit to one of Belize’s Cayes. These are small, practically untouched beaches just off the coast. Some areas of the Cayes can be rented out for private use, but for the most part, there’s a very intimate feel to these beaches.
3. To Go on Incredible Underwater Adventures
As great as all the beaches in Belize are, there’s more to see than what meets the eye! Once you get out into the water, you’ll find plenty of gorgeous reefs and marine life.
Belize is home to huge coral reefs, sea turtles, and all kinds of tropical fish. You may also see a few stingrays or sharks while out and about.
4. To Dive in the Blue Hole
There are plenty of places in Belize to go snorkeling, diving, or enjoy some other water sport. But, the best dive spot of all is arguably the Blue Hole.
This is a world-famous destination in Belize that’s over 400 feet deep. It is incredibly preserved and a true marvel to take in – from both above and below the water’s surface.
5. To Explore Lush Landscapes
In addition to all the adventure of the water, Belize is also home to a lush rainforest. The rainforest is full of gorgeous dense vegetation, many diverse plant and animal species, and breathtaking caves.
There are many hiking tours available for visitors to explore scenery unlike any other. You can even go zip lining through the forest or do an advanced hike if you feel comfortable with the challenge!
6. To Chase Waterfalls
If you do decide to check out what the rainforest has to offer, make sure you ask your tour guide about the waterfalls. This is a must-do in Belize. There’s nothing like standing at the foot of a waterfall and taking in its beauty.
But, the best part is going for a swim in this refreshing water! After some time spent hiking, swimming under a waterfall is equally as rewarding as it is mind-blowing.
7. To See All Kinds of Unique Animals
Whether you’re on the beach or in the forest in Belize, you have to keep your eyes peeled. This helps you spot all the unique animals sharing the beaches and forests with you!
Between tucans, spider and howler monkeys, you’ll never get bored of looking for new animal species. They’re not exactly what you find in your backyard, after all!
8. To Learn About Mayan History
This is one of the most unique reasons on this list to go to Belize: it is home to incredibly well-preserved, beautiful Mayan ruins. This is a little-known fact to most travelers, which means you’re in for a real treat if you decide to go!
There’s rarely ever a crowd at the Mayan ruins in Belize. You can easily arrive there at any time of day without having to deal with large crowds or rushed guides. Rather, you’d get to take in all you want about the ruins in a setting that is peaceful, quiet, and very unique.
9. To Eat Delicious Food
Good food is an absolute must on any vacation – and in Belize, you can trust you won’t go hungry. It’s easy to find mouthwatering food and to try a lot of different plates, too.
You can find everything from Caribbean lobster to fryjack and refried beans – and many of the country’s popular dishes are a representation of the diverse culture. Belize cuisine truly reflects the melting pot of Mestizo, Maya, and Creole cultures that co-exist here.
10. To Relax and Get Away
Still need more convincing? Close your eyes and picture yourself sitting on a beautiful beach with crystal clear water. Imagine the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, and the refreshing feeling of waking up to the cool ocean air and the sounds of nature waking up with you.
These are simple pleasures that are hard to enjoy in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But in Belize, you can’t ignore them! You’re consumed by a sense of total relaxation – a worry-free, easy-going state of mind.
How to Plan the Ultimate Belize Vacation
It’s one thing to realize you need to go to Belize, and another to plan the perfect Belize vacation. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to get started!
The first step in planning your vacation is to research everything there is to do and prioritize which activities you’d like to do the most. Then, book these activities so that you can be sure you enjoy them!
Click here to let the adventure begin.
Learning Spanish in Antigua Guatemala – Martsam Travel
Learning Spanish in Antigua Guatemala
Antigua, Guatemala is broadly regarded as probably the most stunning holiday destinations on the planet, no Guatemala vacation could be complete with no visiting this colonial town. Ideally located at the highlands of the country, Antigua date ranges from the 1500s, and it has managed to preserve most of its Baroque charm within the cobblestone avenues, buildings, plazas, and water fountains.
Before a massive earthquake in the 1700s, Antigua was the capital city of Guatemala. Once the capital was transferred to Guatemala City, Antigua was able to restore and preserve a lot of its previous elegance. Constructed on the grid system, it’s an easy town to get around utilizing a map.
The Parque Central and the Cathedral of San José are two of the favorite locations for tourists and natives as well.
Antigua charms visitors with its colorful structures and blends of Spanish and Mayan culture, and it has been declared as a Cultural UNESCO World Heritage site. Encompassed by three volcanoes, Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego, the scenery from Antigua are globe well-known.
Currently, Antigua is among the preferred holiday destinations for travelers aiming to study Spanish in an immersion-type setting. The town is sufficiently small to be conveniently traversed by walking, and also the elegance and charm of the colonial structures combined with the spectacular natural views and vibrant Mayan culture turn it into a favorite Guatemala travel destination.
Because of the increase of travelers, Antigua features an exceptional quantity of Spanish language schools supplying all types of language class possible. Traditional day schools with lodging as part of the cost are popular, but there are other revolutionary possibilities for students searching for a more genuine language experience.
Immersion Spanish language schools with a volunteer plan are becoming a lot more preferred with vacationers. Packages work from short, one week plans to extended ones that may run to 30 days or longer. Volunteers frequently work in clinics, schools, assisting with building projects, and much more. The advantages of mixing language courses with volunteer work are numerous.
Volunteers usually work with people that only speak Spanish, pushing students to utilize their recently obtained vocabulary skills. Simultaneously, volunteers are visiting a side of the country which a conventional Guatemala tour probably won’t show them. Finally, volunteers generally execute essential tasks that enhance the life of the residents they meet.
There are lots of Guatemala tours which include Antigua as a featured destination, and many provide possibilities to enroll in Spanish programs at one of the many renowned languages schools in the city. Whether you select a conventional method school, one that donates a percentage of tuition to a charitable organization, or even a work-study alternative, there is no more lovely place in the world to learn Spanish and submerge yourself in such a rich cultural tradition.
5 Amazing Indian Road Trips
Road trips are an amazing experience because they involve the best of both the worlds – the journey and the destination. The joy of steering the wheel which is totally under your control, like your life, while your best buddies are playing through that perfect playlist of yours is what makes memories in your life.
The surprises that the journey has to offer at every turn is something to live for while waiting for the road to give you answers to your unanswered questions. The wind smashing onto your face when you peek out of the window is what will rejuvenate you after a long drive along the flawless road.
The best destinations in Indiawhich can be reached by treading on the best roads. Now that both the journey and the destination are the best, you’re in for a treat of a lifetime if you decide to set foot on any of the roads mentioned below!
- Manali – Leh
One of the most known routes for road trips among bike lovers, the Manali-Leh highway spans about 500 kilometres and is about 4 kilometres over the sea level. The beauty of the surroundings can never be captured in words as words fall short to describe the splendour of the snow-clad mountains and the waviness of the roads. The route has been captured in many movies, including the song “Yeh ishqhai” from Jab we Met, assuring you that the location is definitely picturesque. What could be a better route for a journey than this one which will keep you busy and amazed for two days?!
- Shimla – Manali via Spiti
The Shimla to Manali route viaSpiti and Lahaul valley is the lesser travelled routes, but well known among the community that loves taking to the roads. The journey will put you on some of the most treacherous highways, roads and bridges that you will ever come across. Being a long and tiring journey through the hills, the route has some amazing locations at which you could stay the night. Nako, Sangla, Kalpa and the Chandratal are some must visit destinations along this route.
- Mumbai – Goa
Because DilChahta Hai! The Mumbai-Goa route is just as famous as the destination, Goa, thanks to the movie. Ever since the release, people have gone crazy about the entire experience that the road trip brings. The National Highway 17 is extremely pleasant to drive on and is also developed enough to fill your stomach while you refill your car’s stomach! The numerous food joints along the way will make you realize your love for food and cherish the different tastes each recipe brings with it. Being so close to Mumbai, this should be a definite road trip for your vacation in Goa!
- Guwahati – Tawang
The two definite attractions in the Northeast connected by a road as challenging as the destinations, that’s precisely the Guwahati-Tawang road! Though 520 kilometres apart and spanned over varying terrain, the road trip is relaxing due to the splendid views of the scenery yet challengingto drive because of the mountains. Once in Tawang, it’s all about the 3Ms, the monks, the mountains and the morning prayers which will leave you as fresh and pure as you can imagine. So enjoy the Ms while you drive your Mercedes in the Morning while eating M&Ms!!
- Ahmedabad – Kutch
The best plan for a short weekend holiday in the state of Gujarat is the road trip from Ahmedabad to Rann of Kutch. With a driving distance of 400 kilometres, the journey pleasantly hits you as you enter the infinite expanse of the white salt desert or as your pass through the thick forests that Gujarat is known for. The rich colours of the inhabitants of Kutch complements the single colour of the background in which they live, creating a beautiful contrast for the viewer to enjoy. Wash your car, fill up the gas tank and hit the pedal. The destination is clutch, but the journey is accelerated!
Road trips are the best experiences of a life time because of the conversations you have sitting inside the metal body of your vehicle are what you will remember when you recollect memories about the trip. The destination might be mesmerizing, but nothing beats the combined beauty of friends, a vehicle, your favourite songs and a beautiful road to drive on!
About the Author
Rohit is an extensive traveller who explores a variety of places. He puts forth his travel journeys so as to enlighten the people who share an interest in his kind of journeys. Read more about his blogs at transindiatravels.com.