For our one splurge night on our Belize/Guatemalan vacation, Lindsay and I stayed at the Tikal Inn in Tikal National Park in Guatemala. Tikal National Park is located in the Peten region of Northern Guatemala and is home to the largest excavated Mayan ruins. Only about 25-30% of the area is uncovered and the rest of the vast ruins lie under the deep jungle canopies. Most visitors will do Tikal National Park on a day trip from either Belize or from Flores, Guatemala.
However, you can also stay overnight in the park at one of the three hotels in park – Tikal Inn, Jaguar Inn, or Jungle Lodge. Each hotel is slightly different, but offer similar packaging. The hotels are also located right next to each other near the parking lot about 1km from the Grand Plaza.
We chose to stay at the Tikal Inn. Lindsay made reservations in advance of our arrival and I’m glad she did. A student ecology class from Loyola University in New Orleans, LA arrived a few hours after we did and thus the entire hotel was sold out! We opted for a jungle-side bungalow for about $135 USD (or $67 USD each). The price included dinner, breakfast, and a sunrise tour.
It was certainly our most expensive night of the trip, but it was worth the cost. The Tikal Inn feels like a small resort in the middle of the jungle of Guatemala. The staff were welcoming and friendly. A few spoke fluent English while many knew some English. It’s best to know a little Spanish if you go (or bring a Spanish phase book to help you get by). After paying (the hotel will give you a 5% discount if you pay in cash versus credit card), we were shown to our little bungalow located a short walk from the main hotel building.
Our bungalow room was simple with two queen beds and a small bathroom in the back. The roof was thatched in a traditional-style. The room was cool, but in case we got hot, we could turn on the over-head fan when we had power. What’s that you say… no power? There are no power lines that run to Tikal, thus all the electricity in the park is run by generators. To conserve energy, the generators only run from about 6pm to 11pm each night. So bring a flashlight or headlamp with you for ease of going to the bathroom at night!
As we arrived at the park it started to rain. I grabbed a book and read in one of the chairs on the porch of our little bungalow for awhile. Soon the rain shower stopped and Lindsay and I explored the grounds a little before embarking on our first visit to the ruins. We eyed the welcoming aqua blue pool that called our sweaty, humid-soaked bodies to jump in. After exploring a bit of the park we decided we would come back and swim a few laps.
We checked out some of the local flora around the grounds. I spied mangoes and cashews (although we didn’t know they were cashews until our cave tubing trip the next day) and many colorful and sweet-smelling flowers. In the distance of the jungle we could hear the songs of various birds flying about.
After exploring the Mayan ruins a bit, we returned to our room to change into our swimsuits to hit the pool. The power came on as we were changing and thus I was able to charge my camera batteries and my phone! The pool was cool and felt wonderful on our tired muscles. Those steps up the Mayan ruins are quite massive! Just as we entered the pool to relax, the group of college students started jumping in in droves. We chatted a bit with a couple of the students and then retreated back to our bungalow for a hot shower! Oh, did that feel fabulous! Both the water temperature and water pressure were delightful. The only thing about the shower that was not so delightful was its poor ability to drain through the drainage pipe so our shower was about 5 inches deep. Luckily, the shower stall was sunk a few inches in the ground so the water didn’t spread out across the rest of the bathroom.
After dressing, Lindsay and I headed to the dining room for dinner. Dinner was excellent. There is not many options on the menu. As I recall, the options were fish, chicken, or beef with vegetables and rice. I chose the fish and Lindsay tried the beef. Both dishes were cooked well and quite yummy. Then again I’m not super picky when I’m hungry!
After dinner, we both read a while until the lights went out. I set my alarm for 3:45am so we could go on the sunrise tour in the morning. I slept quite well that night. I did get a little cold in the middle of the night when the temperature of the jungle cooled, but luckily they provide you extra blankets. I enjoyed sleeping to the sounds of the jungle. If you don’t like jungle sounds or are a light sleeper then I highly suggest bringing ear plugs!
My alarm went off and I quickly put my contacts in to realize that it was pouring rain out! Bummer. Lindsay and I decided we would sleep in and skip the sunrise tour since we predicted the sunrise would be cloudy. The downfall of going to Tikal in the beginning of the rainy season. We woke up (again) and headed back to the park for the 6am opening of the gate. We spent a couple hours exploring the parts of the park we missed yesterday and taking in the sites. The rain had stopped and the day was turning out to be quite nice.
After working up an appetite walking around the Grand Plaza, we headed back to our rooms to pack and eat breakfast. Breakfast was just a delicious as dinner. I opted for the pancakes and Lindsay ordered the eggs. We were both served fresh squeezed juice and tea or coffee.
On taxi driver arrived promptly at 10am to bring us back across the border to Belize. It was time to say goodbye to our time at Tikal. I will definitely be back.