One of the great Maya cities, Tikal today remains a thrilling place to visit and experience. It is one of the best remaining examples of a once-thriving Pre-Hispanic city anywhere in the Americas. The ruins are remote and buried deep in the rainforest far from urban development. The forest rolls on well into Mexico, meaning access to the area is quite limited and a tour is often the best, and least stressful, way to visit.
Most travellers will often reach the Tikal ruins from a base where there are plenty of hostels or hotels. One such example is San Ignacio, located across the border in Belize. Otherwise, good tours from Guatemala City are also available, although the distance covered to reach Tikal is greater than from San Ignacio so often involves a flight and is therefore more expensive. Here are four of the best tours available.
From: $150/per person
At around 90 minutes away from Tikal Ruins, this tour from San Ignacio is a great way to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tour includes transport and entry fees, along with an English speaking guide who will lead you around the site and help illuminate the Maya world and society that once inhabited this remarkable empire in the forest that is now considered so inhospitable. Spend around six hours at the site, allowing plenty of time to climb the Temple of the Grand Jaguar. Don’t forget to bring a passport though, as you will cross the border of Belize and Guatemala in both directions during the day.
From $340/ per person
Board a light aircraft in Guatemala City and watch the urban area below you give way to a vast expanse of emerald forest. Beneath the canopy are innumerable relics of the Maya Empire, the key site of which is Tikal. Your guide will lead you around the hundreds of structures that have been excavated at the site, like the Central Acropolis and various temples and pyramids. There will also be some free time to explore on your own. Lunch, entry and roundtrip airfare are all taken care of as part of the tour’s price.
From $163/ per person
Pack a passport and let the guide help with the rest on this day trip from San Ignacio to Tikal Archaeological Zone. All border permit fees and entry prices are included in the price. This is a particularly good tour in that the flora and fauna, teeming in the forests surrounding the site, are highlighted by your guide, along with the important buildings at the site and their former purpose. Spot toucans, monkeys and furry coatis scurrying along the paths. There is also a meal included as well as time to shop for souvenirs.
From $319/ per person
Rather than sit for long periods in a car, take a flight to the Petén Basin, close to the Tikal ruins. Swap the sound of jet engines for the chorus of the rainforest as you explore the Maya Royal Residential Complex or the famed Temple IV. All transport and entry fees are covered in the tour price, along with lunch. The trip allows around four hours at the site, with an additional two hour journey each way (one-hour flight and one-hour drive). Be aware that the small airport tax and drinks are not included in the price, so make sure you bring some water with you.