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.
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.
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.
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.