Flashback: Tikal, Guatemala (Belize 2012)

We did a day trip from San Ignacio to Tikal National Park in neighboring country, Guatemala with Pacz Tours. The border between Belize and Guatemala is located incredibly close to San Ignacio and after a brief stop at the border to get our passports checked and exchange money, we started on our almost two hour drive to Tikal National Park.

Tikal National Park is the largest archeological site within the American continent and is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Tikal comprises over 500 square kilometers of jungle, including approximately 16 square kilometers of buildings. The park was rediscovered in 1848 when a gum collector saw some of the temples roofs off in the distance and went to inform the governor of the northern Guatemalan province. At the peak, Tikal likely had up to 100,000 residents within the city in the 8th century.

The first part of the park we visited was Complexes Q and R, which is a unique twin pyramid complex that has rarely been found in other Mayan sites. The Complex Q was built to celebrate the end of a twenty year period, called a Katun in the Mayan calendar. It consists of four buildings based on the four directional points with pyramids on the east/west and rectangular buildings on the north/south. We were able to climb to the top of the east pyramid for a good view. The east pyramid was used for rituals and celebrations, while the west pyramid remains covered still. Our guide said they haven’t uncovered all the complexes yet because no remains have been found and they haven’t wanted to spend the money to continue the excavations. The north building in the complex contains an important stela that displays Chitam, who was the last ruler to leave a written record of Tikal before the collapse.

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