on March 19, 2006
Tikal was one of the great cities of the Mayan empire. It was abandoned over 1,000 years ago and has become overgrown by jungle, painting a vivid picture of an advanced society's demise followed by the reclaiming of the land by nature. It is an awe-inspiring site. The Mayan empire was once the most developed civilization in the New World, before the Europeans arrived in North America. One of the details that makes this area so interesting is that no one has inhabited the area since... the ruins remain buried deep in the jungle, giving it an extra air of mystery and discovery. Until the mid-1800s, in fact, knowledge of their existence to Europeans and North Americans was limited to rumors. Tikal was inhabited approximately between 800BC and 900AD and supported as many as 100,000 inhabitants at its peak. See the pictures attached of the huge pyramids, organized into plazas, varying in size and date. They are unbelievable to witness from the ground, and you can climb some of them, giving you a birds eye view of the vastness of the area and the surrounding jungle.Tikal is an amazing experience. We spent one very full day exploring the park, and found that there was a lot to see. It is do-able in 1 day, but 2 or even 3 days could be spent walking around and exploring without getting bored, especially if you hired a guide.We did not hire a guide (on a student's budget) and did not find that we were missing much. The maps provided by the park are very detailed, and we were able to use descriptions of the history in our guidebooks to enhance our experience. Basic knowledge of the Mayan story is nice to have and will make the experience all the more powerful, however, the sheer size of the site alone is striking.
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