Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.Helen Keller
December 8-14 2017
From the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, we picked up a rental car in Playa del Carmen and headed south to spend some time in Guatemala via Belize.
The main attraction of course was visiting Tikal National Park. Tikal was one of the largest cities in the Americas, being the capital, and the ceremonial centre of the ancient Maya civilization.
At it’s peak the cities hinterlands covered 48 square miles and had a population estimated at over 160,000- with 120,000 concentrated in the 8 mile radius of the sites core.
Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its peak during the Classic Period, 200 to 900 AD. After a gradual population decline, the city was finally abandoned by the end of the 10th century.
The city is built from limestone and includes the remains of temples that tower over 230 feet high, large royal palaces, in addition to a number of smaller pyramids, palaces, residences, administrative buildings, platforms and inscribed stone monuments.
There are thousands of ancient structures and only a fraction of have been excavated, after decades of archaeological work. The most prominent surviving buildings include six very large pyramids, labelled Temples I – VI, each of which support a temple structure on their summits. It is estimated that each of these major temples could have been built in as little as two years.
Our drive to and from the Yucatan was largely uneventful, with friendly border crossings and a fairly straight forward amount of paperwork. We had to take the car through customs at the borders, in additon to the immigration procedures.
We overnighted in San Ignacio, Belize on the way down, stayed in the small village of El Remate while in Guatemala for four nights, and stayed in Chetumal on the Mexican side of the Belize border during our return.