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Tikal on a Hangover

Flores, GuatemalaI would have never guessed that the jungle surrounding Tikal would smell like allspice and cloves. It was a pleasant surprise and helped ease away the hangover from the night before. Early this morning I was walking through Tikal nursing a hangover, smelling allspice and gawking at how thick the surrounding vegetation was. To [...]

Flores, Guatemala

I would have never guessed that the jungle surrounding Tikal would smell like allspice and cloves. It was a pleasant surprise and helped ease away the hangover from the night before. Early this morning I was walking through Tikal nursing a hangover, smelling allspice and gawking at how thick the surrounding vegetation was. To say ‘it was green’ would be an understatement. I don’t think English language has enough words to describe all of the shades and variety of color; if it does the words are inadequate.


The night before was almost a repeat of my last night in Antigua; almost. I met back up with the same friend from Antigua who had just returned from a quick trip to El Salvador and is now making his way into Mexico. This time I had some foresight into what kind of a shit show the night could turn into and made sure that I wasn’t solely relying on my watch alarm to wake me up at 4:00 am. After three hours my wake-up call came too quickly and the cold beans and tortillas I bought for breakfast were highly inadequate to deal with the exhaustion and hangover I was facing.

The ruins of Tikal were spectacular. I couldn’t help but keep my eyes on the jungle and spot howler monkeys in the trees or some other random four-legged animals walking around me. This was followed up by then seeing some Mayan building complex or pyramid rising out of the jungle before me. I was thankful that many of the buildings hadn’t gone through much restoration and many times me and the lizards would be the only things climbing the pyramids and enjoying the scenery. The five hours went by too fast but I was thankful to be back in the shuttle where I could once again get some sleep. By 12:30 I had put in a full day and was ready for some serious napping for the rest of the afternoon.

From Tikal & Flores 2010-11
The Grand Plaza of Tikal

Getting Into Tikal
The entrance fee for foreigners to Tikal is 150 Q (about $20.00) which is a substantial entrance fee for anything in Central America. This had me mulling over other possible options for entering the park. For any would-be visitor I think there are three main options.

The Normal Way:
From Flores you can take the earliest transport possible (5:00 am) costing 60Q and get to the park just a little after 6:00 am and put in a full day at the ruins. The admission fee is 150Q totaling 210Q.

The Slightly Cheaper but More Adventurous Route:
I could pay 40Q and take the local transport to the park and arrive in the afternoon sometime around noon or 2:00 just as people would start to leave. Once there I could ask someone for their ticket and enter the park for free giving me a couple of hours to explore. If I wanted to experience the sunset the next day I could camp overnight for 85Q at the Jaguar Inn next to the park and then bribe a guard in the morning to let me in at 5:00 am to watch the sunset from atop Temple IV. I’m not sure how much it would cost to bribe the guard but I would guesstimate around 50Q? This is still a bit questionable because I’ve heard mixed reports; some say you can bribe the guard to just let you in and others say that you have to take their under-the-table ‘sunrise tour’ for the cost of admission. Without the guard’s ‘tour’ I would estimate the cost being about 175Q

The Absolute Cheapest Route:
Just show up in the afternoon and try to get a ticket off of someone and only pay the 40Q or 60Q for transportation.

In the end I felt slightly guilty on trying to rip-off the park and paying to enter isn’t breaking my budget, but if you have no qualms about it then it should be easy to get in on the sly. Also, if you don’t want to ask for a ticket you can just try walking through the jungle around the guard house at the entrance. There’s no fence around Tikal so you would just have to put up with the thick vegetation.

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Filed under: Cubicle Ditcher, Guatemala

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.