The Maya ruins of Tikal is one of those places you just can’t miss. We drove north from Lanquin along a narrow and winding road trying to cut short to the highway north to El Petén area. It was pouring rain. We hadn’t given much thought to the fact that it was Saturday, but when we got closer to the first village we understood that something was going on. There were heaps of people walking along the road, and they were all going in the same direction. Market day! And the main road through the village was closed… After detours and detours from the detour, we finally managed to get back on the main road on the other side of the village. Now driving against the flow of people. It would probably have been both fun and interesting to see what you could find on a market in a small village up in the Guatemalan mountains, but we had a long way to drive this day and the roads were really slippery from all the rain.
As you drive down from the mountains going further north, the landscape changes into more and more farmland. It has probably been dense jungle at one point, but now it all seems to be banana production. On the road north (Highway 11) we also got to try a nice little river crossing (this time on a ferry…).
The closest bigger town to Tikal is Flores/Santa Elena, and we stopped there to fill up with food and fuel. From here the roads in to Tikal are paved and pretty good, and with some quite entertaining road signs….
We camped behind the restaurant Jaguar Inn that is located just next to the Tikal ruins. We spent a good five hours to explore the old Maya city, and this is a magical place. Several of the temples are well restored, and the view from the highest pyramid is nothing less than spectacular! The archeologists think that there could have been as many as 115,000 people living here, and the city must have been a majestic sight in the jungle with all its temples painted bright red.
Back on the parking lot we ran into Judith and Christof in their Land Rover Defender 110, and they camped next to us the following night. It is always fun to catch up with other travellers, and we were discussing ruins and jungle roads until quite late….