The pyramids at Tikal are my new favorite Mayan ruins. Palenque previously held this title over Kabah and even over the world-famous Chichen Itza for many of the same reasons that I now call Tikal the best. Set in the jungle and rolling hills of northern Guatemala, the Tikal ruins sprawl over enough land to keep even the swiftest of visitors occupied for an entire day. Where the Maya ruins on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula occupy very flat and open areas, often bound by ropes and other restrictive barriers, these ruins in northern Guatemala are unobstructed and raw. They dot a rolling landscape, thick with jungle. At times, it’s difficult to tell the difference between flora and human construction. Hundreds of years of natural reclamation have turned the site into an extension of the towering trees and gigantic palm leaves that truly call this place home.
Do visit Tikal. Do stop ahead of the park’s entrance for a chat with the very friendly Milton at Canopy Tikal. Buy a tasty Guatemalan beer if you have the desire. Camp in the park beneath one of the tiki structures. And go for a hike. The park’s 100 kilometers of trail will surely keep you busy, and mystified, for as long as you wish.