The road to Tikal remains a dusty one but the enterprising "Lady Helen" found a new way to travel. In late Jan. '97, a group of ten rented a van (with driver) from a shuttle company in Fronteras. Traveling in relative comfort (the road is still unpaved and bumpy between Finca Ixobel and Flores), they enjoyed food and drinks from a cooler they brought along, and shaved an hour off the (minimum) 8-1/2 hour bus trip from Fronteras to Tikal (usually done in two days).
They made reservations in advance for the Jungle Lodge (bungalows, dbl. $60 U.S., no credit cards) and had the Lodge book a guide for the sunset tour (2-1/2 hours, about $10 U.S. per person, but the group got an excellent rate of $35 U.S.). Arriving at 3:30pm, they were ready to hike through dense jungle to Temple IV for a sunset made spectacular by toucans flying in to perch on the columns and by the infamous "green flash" as the sun disappeared.
Dinner at the Lodge was Q50, breakfast Q25, but there is a nearby comedor where food is inexpensive and good. Lights out from 11pm 'til 5am, so bring a flashlight!
The group was up early for the 5:30am sunrise tour (4 hours, $30 for the group). Since they had entered the park after 1pm the previous day, their ticket was valid for this next day (entrance fee Q30 per day). By lunchtime, they were in Flores.
An hour from Tikal, Flores is a short way over a causeway from St. Elena, and has nicer and more expensive (Q60 and up) hotels and restaurants. The Hotel Casona de La Isla in Flores was pleasant (Q180 dbl). The box lunch they packed fit right beside the drinks in the cooler for the return trip to Fronteras the following morning. All in all, a hassle free trip.
Your trip will be most enjoyable if you pack a wet washcloth in a baggie (that dusty road), flashlight, sweater or light jacket, rain poncho, bug spray and binoculars. Add toilet paper, pure water and snacks if you're going by bus. A guide, especially for the sunset tour, is worthwhile.
This trip may be too short for some to absorb Tikal's grandeur. If so, stay on at the park hotels or go to Flores/Santa Elena and take the minibus round trip to Tikal (Q30 RT).
Whether you go by "dusty bus" (see "By Dusty Bus to Tikal") or van, be sure to go to Tikal.
November 9, 2012
© 1997-2012 Phillip Landmeier