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Camping at Tikal

Camping at TikalCamping at Tikal. Got eaten by jungle insects; a loud drunk moron kept yelling all night long without regard or care for the other campers; and the only facilities at the campsite were a small palm leaf pavilion placed over a concrete slab. I think, though am still not sure, that we were [...]

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Camping at Tikal

Camping at Tikal. Got eaten by jungle insects; a loud drunk moron kept yelling all night long without regard or care for the other campers; and the only facilities at the campsite were a small palm leaf pavilion placed over a concrete slab. I think, though am still not sure, that we were suppose to sleep on the barren concrete (who the hell wants to camp on concrete?).

Mira and I arrived at Tikal at noonday by shuttle bus from Flores, Guatemala. Our plan was to camp at the front gate, and we figured that we would arrive early to secure our sleeping place before entering the archaeology site after three PM. I was also excited and could not bear sitting around in tranquil Flores when the great archaeology site of Tikal lays only 60km away. You see, if you enter Tikal after three in the afternoon you get a ticket that is good for the next day as well. So, being a thrifty vagabond, I figured that it would be a far better value to get two days of Tikal for the price of one. This seemed to be a given, but we could not know the perils that were to come.

Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Tikal, Guatemala- Early May, 2008
Travel Photos

The pyramids of Tikal

First off, we had to hide out in a field by the front gates of the archaeology site so we would be detected by the park rangers and forced to pay and enter the park before three o’clock. It seems as if the park stooges have grown wise to the ways of beachcombers, and knew that many travelers like the idea of getting two days of Tikal for the price of one, and, consequently, were cracking down on this. So we hid for three hours in the grass. We then entered the park without incident, had a nice time among the ruins, and then went back out to the campsite for a night of jungle sleeping.

Insect bites endured while camping at Tikal

Now, as has come to be our usual way of traveling, neither Mira nor I were prepared for camping in the jungle. Our only equipment was a mosquito net and a sleeping back cover that Mira had the foresight to pack in her rucksack before leaving home. I seem to think that I have the dumb ability to handle any situation that I am thrust into regardless of how ill-prepared I may be.

Uncomfortable situations have the hopeful tendency of always passing. So I tend to not waste thought in preparation. So I smiled dumbly as I went on an entire diatribe of how I refused to sleep on a concrete slab in the middle of the jungle. Mira knew better but gave in to my bought of iron-willed resolve.

Bites from some kind of Guatemalan jungle insect all over my body.

I tied up the mosquito net to a nearby tree, and then laid down under it on the comfortable grass. I thought that I was smart. I thought that I had outwitted all of the other campers that were tossing uncomfortably on their respective concrete slabs. But Mira questioned my genius by mentioning something about insects coming up from the grass in the night and biting us.

“Insects? Bah!” I roared. I thought that just because I was not being bitten at sundown that I would be good and comfortable for the entire night.

I was wrong.

Around midnight a group of drunken idiot expat campers came rolling into the campsite. “Wow, look at all the stars!” one especially stupid one yelled. He had a USA southern accent, and really he continued yelling drunk yells for the next hour.

Jungle insect bites all over my hands.

Mira and I kept our cools and tried to go back to sleep in lieu of the idiot drunkard’s onslaught. But then – suddenly – we felt the biting of some kind of small insect that we could neither see, kill, nor even feel. They were all over out bodies. Mira and I were their feast for the night, and we could do nothing about it. We swatted, scratched, grabbed, and slapped in vain. We could not see them or feel them. We only knew of their perilous presence by their little bites that would chomp on us a few times a minute. I did not feel so smart now.

Mira grumbled, and we retreated to the concrete slab. But it was all to no avail, as the insects – whatever they were – were already fully dispersed within the fibers of the sleeping bag. There was nothing for us to do other than accept our fate and be eaten.

“Uncomfortable situations have a tendency of passing,” I whispered to myself. But ages passed, and I was still uncomfortable. I could not sleep. The drunken idiot kept yelling:

“Wow, dude! We are in the jungle! We are in the F’ in jungle.”

Yes, I agree, Tikal is in the jungle. But I simply did not want to be reminded of such as I was being feasted upon by jungle insects at 2AM. I planned on waking up at the crack of dawn the coming day to go back into the archaeology site, I wanted to sleep. But I swatted on in futile submission.

On this night, I was the dinner of the Tikal grass insects. I suppose everything needs to be eaten by something someday.

I should have just gotten drunk.

Camping at Tikal

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Filed under: Accommodation, Archaeology, Camping, Central America, Guatemala

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

2 comments… add one

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  • Rohan May 25, 2011, 2:04 am

    Now that’s a story! Much more exciting than “we camped at Tikal, woke upland entered the site”. And much more memorable than being drunk. Thanks for sharing the story. I’m heading there in July

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com May 25, 2011, 8:37 am

      Great clarity on this. Sure you will have a truly worthy experience in Central America. Thanks.

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