Saturday, May 20, 2017


Welcome to Mexico and Beyond: Laura’s Photo Journey. As many of you might already know and some of you will soon find out, I simply ADORE pre-Colombian Mayan archaeological ruins! My husband and I have lived full time in Latin America for over twenty years. During those many years I have never passed the opportunity to visit the ruins of the “ancient ones” whenever they were nearby. My husband has never had the same passion, but has graciously indulged me whenever possible. I believe, however, he will agree with me that the Mayan Ruins of TIKAL in Guatemala are simply awesome. So without further introduction, let’s visit Tikal.

For those of you who need a sneak preview


“Tikal, located in the north of the Petén region of Guatemala, was a major Mayan city which flourished between 300 and 850 CE. The city, known to the Maya themselves as Mutul, is one of the grandest in Mesoamerica. Among the first Maya cities to gain prominence in the Early Classic period (250-600 CE), Tikal built its wealth by exploiting its natural resources and geographical location to become a Maya superpower, a status it also enjoyed in the 7th century CE when some of the site's most impressive later monuments were constructed.”
For history nuts like me and with thanks:

Tikal is one of the largest pre-Columbian Mayan cities and is one of my personal favorites. The spectacular ruins of this ancient city are found in the Guatemalan rain forest located in the province of El Petén in what is now northern Guatemala and only two hours away from the border with Belize (just in case you are in need of a Caribbean beach fix).

What makes Tikal so special to me are not only its large and amazing pyramids and temples with their fantastic Mayan architecture, but also the biodiversity to be found in this spectacular rain forest jungle environment. Whenever you turn around a corner you can expect something new and exciting. Although archaeologists have been working at Tikal for decades, only a fraction of the buildings has been uncovered. You will still find plenty of structures covered by jungle. The archaeological ruins of Tikal are part of Guatemala’s TIKAL NATIONAL PARK and were declared a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE in 1979.


Tikal National Park in Guatemala measures more than 220 square miles (575 square kilometers) in size, most of it pristine jungle. The park is also home to thousands of ancient Mayan ruins including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal that is roughly 6 square miles (16 square kilometers) in size and contains more than 3,000 buildings! 

Tikal reached its height during the Classic Period (200 to 900 AD) when it was a major political, economic, and military center, and one of the most important archaeological complexes left by the Maya civilization. An inner urban zone of approximately 900 acres (approximately 1.5 square mile) contained the incredible principal monuments which included palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, small and medium sized residences, ball-game courts, terraces, roads, large and small squares.

Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its height during the Classic Period (200 to 900 AD). Following the end of the Late Classic Period no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that the elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline which resulted in Tikal being abandoned by the end of the 10th century. 

By the time the conquistador Hernan Cortes entered the area in 1525 few people remembered the great city lost in the jungle and the Spanish warriors never realized that they had passed so closely to Tikal. It wasn’t until 1848 when an archaeological expedition dispatched by the government of Guatemala officially rediscovered the city.

Among the many interesting finds at the site were dozens of stone pillars each matched with a circular altar. Archaeologists have determined that these were used to record the history of the rulers of Tikal. It is also believed the pyramids of Tikal were used as astronomical observatories by the Maya in order to calculate their extremely accurate 260-day calendar that meshes with modern 365-day calendars every 52 years. 

In the 1950's and 1960's the government of Guatemala in conjunction with the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States of America cleaned and restored the site to its current condition. In 1979 Tikal was honored and declared a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE.


Tikal National Park in Guatemala measures more than 220 square miles (575 square kilometers) in size, most of it pristine jungle. The park is also home to thousands of ancient Mayan ruins including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal that is roughly 6 square miles (16 square kilometers) in size and contains more than 3,000 buildings!

Archaeologists have determined that the Maya first arrived in the area of Tikal around 3,000 years ago. Since its humble beginnings, the mega city state became an important commercial, cultural, and religious center. The world-famous temples were built around the year 700 when Tikal rose to become the most important city in the Maya world with a population of approximately 100,000 people.

Most importantly, slow down and take your time. Look up not only at the ancient stone remains, but look up at the beautiful nature surrounding you. You may see toucans, parrots, rare hawks, and plenty of monkeys. It is not often that you find such an incredible Mayan site which combines the man-made legacy of the Maya with the magic of nature. Take advantage and enjoy! 

I don’t know about you, but I am pooped from our visit to Tikal! I believe it’s time to return to our base in El Remate for some much needed R&R. So come along for a peek at this small and charming town on the shores of Lake Petén Itza.

El Remate is a small, relaxed little village on the eastern shores of Lago Petén Itza. We were looking for a place to stay which was peaceful and quiet and El Remate was perfect for us. It is also the closest jumping off point for visits to the ruins of Tikal.

The village has small Eco-friendly hotels, art workshops, and offers visitors a visit to the lake. Central El Remate is small and very walk able, but if you're staying along the north road on the lake you may want to find a bicycle to rent.

El Remate is visited by many buses as it is only approximately 1.5 miles from the road that takes you to Melchor de Mencos, Flores, Guatemala City, and the airport. 

Our lodging was great in every way including wonderful lake view with sunsets, a comfortable and large cottage, a quiet pool for reading, colorful peacocks strolling the lovely grounds, a tasty breakfast, and friendly hospitable hosts!

Having El Remate almost to ourselves and enjoying our stay at the
THE MANSION OF THE PLUMED SERPENT were a bonus while visiting Tikal.

Looking for a bus in bustling and busy Flores is something of a challenge and I am definitely ready to get back to El Remate!

Before leaving I would like to share some information in regards to the Mayan writing system of glyphs since you may be as interested as I was.

                                   MAYAN GLYPHS

The Mayan script, also known as Mayan glyphs or Mayan hieroglyph, is currently the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been substantially deciphered. The earliest inscriptions found which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BCE in San Bartolo, Guatemala. Maya writing was in continuous use throughout Mesoamerica until the Spanish conquest of the Maya in the 16th and 17th centuries. For more detailed information you may go to the above link.

I also highly recommend you take the following very cool virtual tour of Tikal until you can visit the ruins in person. After opening the link go to the menu and click on TIKAL and then click on the lower right corner icon which reads VER INTRO/VIEW INTRO. Have a wonderful time!


I hope you have enjoyed our visit to the legendary ruins of Tikal in Guatemala. I have certainly enjoyed sharing our visit and memories with you. For me this blog posting has rekindled a personal desire to return to these amazing Mayan ruins. Until then I will just have to be patient and keep on blogging!

When locals refer to their buses as chicky (chicken) buses it's for a good reason.  I didn't have the nerve to ask Felipe what his chicken's destiny was for that night!

For those of you who still have the energy, you may proceed to visit my previous postings on the following Mayan ruins.  If you recall, I did warn you that I simply adore Mayan pre-Colombian ruins!  




Everything grows gigante in the jungle and I appreciated this giant's support while taking a time out at Tikal.

Many thanks for your company and I very much look forward to seeing you again soon.   Laura from Tikal and El Remate, Lago Petén Itza, in Guatemala.

                          And lest we forget:  memories are only a click away!



  1. Laura...just sitting here with my morning cup of tea and enjoyed the Tour. It was wonderful. All is well here. Booked for Jan. 31st to March we will fit in a burger night and wine on our balcony. Are you head back to the rat race of USA for your usual family time? Keep in touch..hugs

    1. So very nice to hear from my friends in Canada and to know that you will be returning for a Spring visit. We are having a very quiet "low season," but will be visiting the California gang later this summer. Keep in touch and looking forward to our burger and wine night! Hugs to you both.

  2. Wonderful. Wonderful. You never disappoint. And I love those glyphs. Love them.

    1. It is so reassuring to know that there is another "glyph-nut" out there! Gracias, amiga, for being such a wonderful blogger inspiration.

  3. Thanks for the wonderfull journey to Tikal.
    We were there about 20 years ago. Brought back lots of great memories.
    It is still cool in Wisconsin. Looking forward to returning to Playas Gemelas for January and February 2018.

    1. How time flies, si! One of the rewards of blogging is the many wonderful memories it brings back. I am happy it brought great memories back to you also. Looking forward to your return in the ano nuevo. Until then..... Laura