For the second part of our Guatemalan adventure, my sister and I flew from Antigua to Flores, then took a very crowded shuttle to Tikal ruins. WOW. Amazing. Tikal is a massive collection Mayan ruins set in the jungle, in part of the Mayan biodiversity zone (which is a UN designation). The area was very hot and humid, and the Tikal ruins were a bit crowded for our first visit (but nothing compared to the Disney World type crowds at Machu Picchu!) I went back for a guided pre-dawn hike (with flashlight) and the ruins were deserted except for our small group. What a different experience! Very moving to be sitting quietly and listening to the noise of the jungle awakening – screaming birds, and howler monkeys that sound like a loud predator!
Mindy (sister) and me by jungle tree -- HUGE!
Ruin and Stele (carved standing stone)
Mindy by Stele (Tikal)
Stele and ruins (Tikal)
Acropolis (ruin in Tikal)
We saw wildlife!
Coati (relative of a raccoon)
Wild turkey (sure looks different than the North American wild turkey!)
Our hotel in Tikal was very nice, but more rustic. Power was only available from 6 to 10 p.m. – and it was pitch dark when I got up at 4 a.m. for the dawn hike up to the top of Tower 4 (the highest point, with views overlooking the jungle). My camera battery died on the dawn hike so I have no photos.
We spent a couple of nights in Flores, a beautiful colonial city set beside a lake.
Hotel in Flores (right on the lake!)
Mindy & I took a lancha (small boat) to the island, where there is a zoo and trail to unexcavated Mayan ruins
View of Flores from the lancha (white building in background is church build on top of pyramid ruins)
From Flores, we visited the ruins of Yaxha. WOW. These are MUCH less frequently visited that Tikal, and we really felt that we had traveled back in time.
Mindy & me at ruin
View after climb up tallest pyramid
The howler monkeys make an incredible noise. I’ll try to insert a link to a video – none of it is great quality but the NOISE is amazing. Unfortunately only my very WORST video actually shows the monkeys; so here it is. (Despite the appearance of the video I WAS NOT DRUNK when I recorded it. It just looks that way!) Our guide said that the movie Jurassic Park used howler monkey recordings to capture the imagined sound of dinosaurs in combat.
Hmmm...I haven't figured out how to post the video link to the howler monkeys. I'll edit this blog if I can figure it out.
I’ll post a third and final blog about my trip soon!