You Better Belize It! Day 4 (Zip-line & Tikal)

I’m sorry for enormous size of this post. We had a very busy day! As we were planning this trip, one of the things that we were most excited about was visiting Tikal, which is an ancient Maya city in the Guatemalan jungle. We had heard that the magnitude and architecture of the ruins are breathtaking, and they did not disappoint! We also wanted to do a zip-line through the jungle, and it turns out we got to do both in one day.

The mountain that looks like an alligator. It's more impressive in person.

Rudy decided to come with us to Tikal (which was kind of a weird surprise), so he picked us up at our hotel Sunday morning in a minivan taxi driven by Mr. Dave. The drive to the Belize-Guatemala border is only about 20 minutes, but I wasn’t sure Mr. Dave’s car was going to make it. Every dashboard warning light that could be lit up was. Brake. Oil. Service Engine. Seat belt. Low fuel. The gas situation worried me the most, because the gas gauge was on empty. By some miracle we made it to the border without incident, where we were met by a much newer van. During the hour or so drive to Tikal National Park Bee and I decided that we liked Guatemala better than Belize. The economic situation may have been the same or worse, but the people and the countryside were clean, orderly, and dignified. It was beautiful. We stopped along the way to see a mountain that looks like an alligator overlooking a gorgeous lake.

We stopped just outside of the park to do the zip-line, and it turns out we were the only customers at the moment so we had a personal tour of the jungle canopy. I think there were about nine zip-lines and it took about 45 minutes. We would zip from one platform to the next and then climb higher to reach the next line. It was SO much fun! Our two guides were very nice and offered to take pictures for us.

One of our giudes is just chillin' over there on the edge. No fear.

Climbing up to one of the next platforms.

Bee on one of the lines.

Curly on the zip-line.

It was a long way down, but after the first line we got used to it!

They called this one The Superman!

Super Bee!

A view of the jungle canopy. It was fantastic.

This is a map of Tikal. You can see Bee and our giude in the background.

Then it was on to Tikal. We had our own tour guide who has an amazing knowledge of the ancient Maya civilization so we learned a lot about the city and the Maya. Tikal is massive and would take several days to explore thoroughly, so we hit the major temples and plazas and were sufficiently awed by all of them. We have so many pictures from Tikal that it was really hard to choose which ones to put on the blog! Hopefully they will give you an idea of the grandeur of the ruins. There are several temples that people are allowed to climb for breathtaking views of the jungle canopy. They used to let people climb Templo I, known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar, but at least two people have tumbled to their deaths, so they’ve closed the stairs to that one. The amazing thing is that only one of the temples we climbed has a guard rail, so people could still fall from the other ones. Yikes! We were very careful.

One of the first things we saw as we entered the city was this amazing tree! The ceiba tree plays an important role in the Maya belief system and we saw them all over the Belize jungle too.

Us in front of a massive ceiba tree.

This sign explains the significance of the ceiba tree.

I’m not going to attempt to explain everything we saw, so read the captions on the pictures below. Basically, we saw a lot of ruins, climbed a few temples, learned a lot about the Mayas from our amazing guide, and tried not to get dehydrated in the very intense heat.

Curly in front of Templo I

Templo I (the Jaguar temple), which you can't climb anymore.

This is the Gran Plaza, with Templos I and II to the right and left out of the picture.

Bee at the top of Templo II.

View of the Gran Plaza from Temlpo II

In the Gran Plaza there is large tree with bird nests hanging from the branches. They biuld them out of Spanish moss.

This is one of the birds from the hanging nests.

Detail on one of the small ruins.

A face in the steps at the Gran Plaza.

A mask in the Gran Plaza

An amazing jungle vine!

This is a ruin that hasn't been uncovered, but somehow they found the doorway.

Archeologists think this was the entrance to the city, since it has the only doorways that are open in the back.

Us standing in front of Templo V, which we were just about to climb.

The wooden stairs for Templo V (not part of the original structure, obviously, but they enable tourists to climb it).

Those steps are steep!

Looking down from Templo V.

Curly looking nonchalant at the top of Templo V.

The rounded corners on Templo V are magnificent.

You can see that the back side of Templo V is still buried.

Bee in front of an altar. We didn't sacrifice him.

The ancient Mayas practiced food storage. This was one of the underground storage areas, and food such as honey and bread nuts have been found in similar holes.

Another food storage hole.

An amazing view.

Plaza of the Seven Temples (Plaza de los Siete Templos)

One of the last structures we saw that day. Then we ate a very late lunch.

After our tour we watched a pack of red racoons while we ate the most amazing chicken we had ever tasted and drank fantastic orange soda. It was our favorite meal of the entire trip.