Tikal and Flores, Guatemala
The peaks of the towering pyramids break through the jungle canopy skyline to create all the mystery you would expect from such a grand archaeological site as Tikal.
Having trekked three days to the site, it felt as though we were uncovering a long lost city in a remote jungle. For those less keen to contend with spiders, poisonous snakes and bats, Tikal can be reached in a short 1.5 hour mini van journey from the cute lake island of Flores.
The early morning sunrise tour (3am start) delivers the phenomenal and frightening sounds of the howler monkeys before dawn and the changing colours reflecting off the pyramids at sunrise.
Hostel: Los Amigos, Flores (avoid the hostel’s travel agency) , amazing showers. 70Q for a dorm.
Sunrise tour: Q200
El Zots, Guatemala
We were keen to trek the jungles and opted for the three day trek to Tikal via the yet to be excavated Mayan site of El Zots and a nearby bat cave.
I would strongly advise against booking a hiking tour with agencies in Flores and in particular the agency at Los Amigos Hostel. The trek was expensive and the local guides were being exploited with less than 15% going to the locals. Due to the poor pay, we didn’t receive the tent accommodation we were sold – hammocks instead, the food was not sufficient to feed our group and there were poisonous snakes that can kill within half an hour that have a natural attack rather than flight response (we saw three but due to vegetation covering the jungle floor it was near impossible to spot the snakes). The guide did not carry the US$70 antivenin.
When we raised our concern with the booking agency, they blamed the guide.
It is possible to make your own way to the village and pay a fraction of the price for a properly equipped tour.