Just a short two day and eleven hours northeast from Antigua is Tikal, now a National Park that was once a Great Mayan City set way back in the jungle. Cheers to Guatemala City for showing us the worst traffic that we have seen in five thousand miles. We got so far behind schedule that it turned dark before we could get anywhere safe to stay the night, for hours we were in the middle of nowhere. We did our first nighttime drive for three hours and with great luck the road was in decent enough shape to make it ro Rio Dulce without getting a flat. I was stressed!
We finished the long drive to Tikal the next day early afternoon. We found a great little spot to camp just outside the park gates to rest up for an early sunrise hike in the morning. 5:15am still dark the alarm goes off and I hear the jungle breathing above the van. We gathered the camera, a fresh made thermos of coffee and a couple of granola bars to make the long trek through the jungle alone and looking for the tallest ruin. There’s no short of wild animals on our walk; greeting us right away were a couple of coatimundis wrestling eachother on the trail, then a colorful wild turkey guarded the restrooms, and a couple of monkeys accidentally I assume drop mangoes a foot from our heads. After an hour and a half through the mayan city, Tikal we arrive to the tallest ruin Temple IV there standing 212 feet high. We climbed the side of it, grabbed a seat at the highest step, opened the coffee and took in the unprecedented view. We were sitting above the clouds and waiting for the sun to appear while toucans were flying below our feet. Virtally we had this park to ourselves, there was a quiet moment had while listening to the howler monkeys travel around us and off deep into the jungle.
Christian descibes the sound of the howler monkeys like this “imagine King Kong angry and ripping through the jungle heading right for you!” Their sound together is like one giant beast, it was beautiful. No jaguars were spotted on this adventure.
On the way back to Antigua we stopped at Rio Dulce for a few nights during a monsoon. However it’s hard to complain when you camp at a place on a river with a pool, bar and restaurant in the jungle.