Two Days at Tikal – The Mayan Ruins in the Jungle of Guatemala

Ruins at Tikal in Guatemala

some ruins on the way to the Gran Plaza of Tikal

Located in the jungles of Guatemala, the relatively remote Mayan Ruins of Tikal are impressive. I spent the better part of two days inside the grounds and still didn’t see everything. But from my time walking among the ruins I learned to further appreciate the Mayan Culture I’ve already grown to know from places like Coba, Tulum, and Chichen Itza.

Inside I climbed multiple pyramids, hiked through jungle, listened to howler monkeys, spotted some magnificent birds, admired wild turkeys watched both a sunrise and a sunset atop a temple in Tikal and loved it all. I loved every minute.

Here are a few photos from my time.

The Gran Plaza and Temple of the Jaguar

on the trail in the jugles of the mayan ruins of Tikal, Guatemala

on the path sometimes you didn't see any ruins

The path in to the Gran Plaza and the first two temples (Templo I and Templo II) is through the jungle and filled with a few smaller, yet impressive ruins (first photo). But when  you arrive at the Gran Plaza, the site of the famous Temple of the Grand Jaguar (Templo I) you know it.

Templo I - The Temple of the Gran Jaguar, at the Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala

the temple of the Gran Jaguar (can't climb)

Templo II - Tikal, Guatemala

Templo II, across from Templo I and the Gran Plaza (you can climb)

Serving as the “center” of the city in the past it also served as the main meeting place. I noticed fellow tourists gathering to enjoy the sights and some relax time in the “plaza.”

the Gran Plaza of the Mayan Ruins of Tikal is still in use today...

the Gran Plaza is still in use today...

Templo IV

first view of Templo IV at the mayan ruins of Tikal, Guatemala

Templo IV - the place I'd watch a sunset and sunrise comes into view

Here at the sight of the highest pyramid, sixty-five meters, and one of the highest in pre-columbian America, steep wooden steps lead you up (all climbs are on wooden steps or ladders in Tikal) to the top of the most impressive panoramic views. I climbed a top three times; once in mid-day, once to see a sunset, and then once again the following morning to watch the sunrise from atop a Tikal pyramid.

a colorful bird spotted on the climb up to Templo IV, Tikal, Guatemala

sometimes you see wonderful birds on the climbs

Craig Zabransky of Stay Adventurous on top of Templo IV Pyramid at the Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala

Staying Adventurous on top of Templo IV


the afternoon view from atop Templo IV at the Mayan Ruins of Tikal in Guatemala

the view at the top

The Lost World, Temple V and the South Acropolis

Walking to through the lost world, you wonder why just one section receives this name as to you, the entire city seems like a lost world. It seems the architecture is from many of the time periods (early and late classic) but excavation revealed some of the oldest Mayan structures at Tikal.

a building from the lost world soputh acropolis in the mayan ruins of tikal, guatemala

still partly covered... many building are in Tikal

Also, a little further down the path, Temple V, will definitely challenge anyone’s fear of heights. The stairs are the steepest I’ve climbed, but well worth it.

the hike up the wooden stairs at templo V at the Mayan Ruins of Tikal Guatemala

the step stairs of Templo V, well worth the climb

Templo V at Tikal, Guatemala

the temple just comes into view from the jungle


Stay Adventurous, Craig

PS – And I’d like to wish everyone a happy new Baktun, and new era as the Mayan Calendar begins a new chapter today. I hope you do too.



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  • Maria Falvey

    Whoa! Those “stairs” on Templo V – that takes mad skills for agility, endurance and lack of vertigo no doubt.

    Favorite pic featured: Templo IV – the place I’d watch a sunset and sunrise comes into view – Sublime!

  • Maryann

    Great article. What a fascinating place to visit. I am surprised that you don’t hear more about it in other travel articles especially today with all the talk about the Mayan calendar. Would love to see it but those steps; they must be quite a challenge.

  • The World of Deej

    Great timing for this post…Looking forward to the new era:)

    • craig zabransky

      yes, looking forward to it too… it is going to be an adventurous one 😉 stay adventurous, Craig

  • Kieu – GQ trippin

    I’ve always been fascinated with Mayan history.. so mysterious and “lost”. Those stairs are way too steep for my blood. Lol

    • craig zabransky

      The stairs were much tougher on the way down… but well worth it. And so agree, there are so many “lost” or undiscovered ruins in Central America… so fun to visit. stay adventurous, Craig

  • Lazy Travelers

    we’re just glad the whole world-ending fiasco was wrong. great photos, as per usual!

    • craig zabransky

      thanks, glad you like the photos… and many never believe it was the end, but just a new beginning… a toast to new beginnings. stay adventurous, Craig

  • Traveling Ted

    I love the fact you can see beautiful birds and animals at the ruins. This is my type of place where you can combine nature with history and civilization.

    • craig zabransky

      I agree, always great to explore in a sense of “wild” it definitely enhances the adventurous nature of it all…. stay adventurous, Craig

  • Ana Silva O’Reilly

    Those stairs were mad!! OMg!!

  • Anita Mac

    Great shots….takes me right back to Tikal! The Templo V stairs are insane…don’t know how I missed them! I have no doubt the views were spectacular from the top!

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