From the pier, transfer to a nearby airport for a 90-minute flight by chartered aircraft to the vast northern region of Petén. A one-hour drive along a rain forest-lined road brings you to the famous Mayan ruins of Tikal. Begin a guided hike along dirt roads and pathways that will lead you back in time. A mysterious realm unfolds as you enter the forest surrounding the ruins, and the Great Plaza will come into view. You will visit the Pyramid of the Great Jaguar, the Central Plaza, the Palace of the Masks and Pyramid IV. Marvel at the size of the Central Acropolis and the North Acropolis, as well as the temples that tower above the tree line. Lunch is served on the premises as you relax and reflect on your exclusive encounter with the magnificent remnants of the Mayan culture. If time permits, you’ll stop at the Sylvanus Morley Museum before you retrace your route by air and land back to the ship.Notes:Bring your passport on tour. The walking tour takes three hours and covers 2½ miles of dirt roads and pathways with gradual inclines and stairways. Wear sturdy, comfortable, closed-toe walking shoes, a long-sleeved shirt and trousers; bring a waterproof jacket. A $3 per person airport security fee must be paid to the airport authorities on the return flight. A ship’s escort will travel with you to Tikal, where you will meet your tour guide. Tour is available only on select sailings.
Average Customer Rating:
(12 Reviews) 12
Rating Snapshot(12 reviews)
11 out of 12(92%)reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for Tikal, Mayan City of Voices
Review 1 for Tikal, Mayan City of Voices
A Hot and Frustrating Day
Date:February 23, 2015
Cruise Date Year:2014
Cruise Date Month:April
Would you recommend this product to a friend? No
If you REALLY want to see Tikal, you might want to do this. But be prepared for a very long, hot, humid day with long waits in uncomfortable conditions. It was exhausting and took us several days to recover from. You spend all day suffering in unbearable heat in order to see ruins for a couple of hours. We were quite disappointed. It's also very expensive and not worth the cost.
My day in Tikal National Park was a very special time. The TAG chartered 34 seat SAAB 340A turboprop left from a nearby military base. The 1 1/4 hour flight climbed over the ocean with the pier and ship below and flew past a smoldering volcano. The verdant Guatemalan landscape was visible below. The flight was comfortable, with a flight attendant and cabin service. It was an added bonus to the excursion!
At the Peten airport use the facilities and sign in. There was a small bus and a 7 passenger van to take us to the park. I chose to go in the small van, since I was a single participant. It took about 45 minutes to get to the front gate of the park. Our group was permitted to drive into the Main Plaza, which saved valuable time.
The Main Plaza was level and grassy and surrounded by temples. Mayan descendants were preforming rituals and groups of visitors were in awe of the temples and ruins. A wooden staircase wound up the back of one temple...a fairly easy climb...for a great view of the plaza and temples peeking up though the jungle.
Because our group was small, our guide took us through the jungle on a more remote path to see other plazas and temples. There were bathrooms along the way. Sites were identified with signs in several languages. The walk was beautiful and peaceful, with our guide pointing things out along the way. We met up with the rest of our group and had the opportunity to climb the wooden stairs to another spectacular temple. Our group walked back to the Main Plaza for one last look before heading out of the park.
I had hoped that we would eat in the park as stated in the tour description, but we drove instead to a roadside restaurant for a "typical Guatemalan meal". A number of tour members said they would rather have a box lunch and more time in the park...I agree! The restaurant conveniently had very high priced mementos . This was the only disappointment in the tour. We did not go to a museum.
The plane flight (you do have to go through security but water is OK) back was again a chance to see the countryside.
There were 1200 passengers on the ship, but only 22 of us took this tour. I suspect both the time and the expense were deterrents, but this was well worth both. A little intimidating to enter a heavily guarded military airport, and the plane was a 30 passenger. I admit to not being fond of small planes. The flight into the interior afforded beautiful views of volcanoes rising out of the clouds. The flight back was through rain clouds and some unpleasant turbulence, but we made it safely back. This does involve a considerable bus ride, as well. The tour guide made good use of the time giving us a feel for the country, its history, its political background, its progress. Tikal was breathtaking. There is a fantastic history of the Mayans at San Diego's Museum of Man. Definitely read about this site before visiting. You will absorb so much more of the information the tour guide is valiantly trying to relate as you walk along. Our bus had permission to drive past the bus parking area and up to behind Temple 1, which gave us more time to walk amidst the ruins. The view from the top of Temple 2 was incredible, overlooking the plaza and Temple 1. It is a hike up steep stairs but worth it. Temple 4 is a considerable hike, and those who braved the steps to its top said the view was vast. We were overheated - the directions said to wear long sleeves and long pants - we wish we had not. The admonition is to protect against mosquitoes. We saw none, though we did bring repellant, we did not have to use it. Lightweight clothing should be your attire. You will be hiking in a hot environment. We were there on November 1, All Saint's Day. Tikal is a National Park, and there were many locals visiting and enjoying family gatherings. It was a festive day and, in spite of an armed presence at the gate, we felt safe and welcome. A delicious lunch on the way back, at a gaily painted restaurant, was delicious and hospitably served. Restrooms were clean. Souvenir shop was off to one side and definitely optional. I highly recommend this excursion - the highlight of our trip.
Be prepared for a very long day of travel -- bus, plane, bus and then the reverse on the way back to the ship. But it is so worth it and worth the money.
No point in trying to "review" Tikal -- it is simply amazing, and I would only recommend that you take your eyes and brain to soak it all in. Cameras (except for the very best) can't do it justice. If you are able, definitely do the two climbs up rather steep wooden staircases to get you to the top of two of the monuments. The views, including over the top of the canopy, are out of this world.
One thing HAL will have to fix before next trip -- making sure that whatever transportation is provided to get the group into the park can actually get EVERYBODY into the park. Apparently the park would only allow one bus from the tour operator, but we were one medium sized bus and one small bus. The medium sized bus sailed through, but we got stopped for an infuriating 20 minutes while somebody was trying to decide what to do. Word to the wise: if, at the airport, you see two buses, check with your HAL tour host to verify that both buses will be allowed in. This is a big problem.
Having said that, after we saw Tikal, nearly every thought about the bus problem fled from our minds. It is THAT amazing.
Lunch was rather delayed. It would be better if lunch could've been at a restaurant closer to the entrance to Tikal rather than quite a ways toward the airport. Not that the restaurant was bad, just that it was a long day, and a long way from Tikal. One hint: it's always a good idea to grab a couple of individual cereal boxes from the Lido and take with you. It's amazing what a good snack a box of Fruit Loops is!
Okay, a little bit of info that no one knows: you can take water with you on the flight, and make sure you take it. It is a long day, but that’s what the description says, so grin and bear it. This is so overwhelming I don’t know where to start. Let’s just say it is a “bucket list” item and FANTASTIC! To be in Tikal – what a city it must have been. I suggest you have a bit of understanding of Tikal – the guide we had gave us quick info on some of the temples and then let us to our own devices. Lunch was not on the premises – some little place on the road (it was adequate/fair). We did not stop at the Morley Museum; there wasn’t time. This was an incredible experience.
This is a tour not to be missed if you can afford it! While you spend 15 minutes on a bus to get to the airport, an hour on the plane, and another hour on the bus to get to Tikal you will want to explore these ruins. Our guide was outstanding, the best of the best. I learned so much and it was a bonus to have lunch at a little place with great, authentic food. Loved it!
What a day! Long, exciting and truly unique. We hadn't realized beforehand that it was Easter week and that all roads, beaches and the town of Puerto Quetzal would be jammed, so the bus trip to the airport took a little patience, but added to the experience. The flights both ways provided wonderful views of the rugged Guatemalan Central Highlands and close up views of several major volcanoes including Acatenango, the highest in the country. The second bus ride to Tikal itself was picturesque and quite enjoyable. As for Tikal ruins - in a word, truly awe-inspiring. The pace of the tour is pretty brisk and we would have liked to have spent just a little more time there, but the experience that we had was one not to be forgotten. The lunch at a local roadside restaurant was authentic and quite good. Our guide was outstanding and extremely knowledgeable on all aspects of Guatemala, both past and present. And to cap off an already memorable day, we arrived at the local military airport just as our ship was scheduled to disembark. What with the holiday celebrations, one can only guess how long the short trip back to the pier might have taken. As a result, we were provided a military escort, sirens blaring and automatic rifles in full evidence - the Grand Finale! If you are in Guatemala, have any interest in native history and this excursion is available, we definitely recommend it. It is quite likely that we will visit Tikal once again at a more leisurely pace at some later date.
OK - a pricey excursion but this was the excursion that I most wanted to do... Incredible. Could easily spend more time here and makes me interested to visit more native american sites throughout North, Central and South America. A lot of time is spent traveling to Tikal but our tour guide was absolutely fabulous. Total time on site was probably 2-3 hours but the discussion enroute made our time on site quite productive. On the way home we stopped at a local restaurant for lunch - very good! BUT the most exciting element of our excursion was from the airport to the ship where we received a military escort. Because it was holy week - AND - Enrique Iglesias was performing in town, traffic was at a standstill - it was the only way we were going to make it to the ship! What an adventure!
Phenomenal trip. Fantastic site - an absolute treasure. Recommend it to everyone. Worth multiple visits you will never see everything. It's worth every cent of the excursion price.
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4out of4found this review helpful.
Review 10 for Tikal, Mayan City of Voices
Date:May 31, 2012
Cruise Date Year:2011
Cruise Date Month:May
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
If you are at all interested in history, this is the tour for you. It is expensive but consider it as a "once in a lifetime" occasion. To have a chance to visit something of this nature is not something thatshould be overlooked. To be able to stand on the steps of a pyramid that has exixted for thousands of years is a surreal moment. To walk through the doorway of a home that was inhabited in the time of the Mayans gives you a realization of just how short our lifetime is. So don't hesitate! Treat yourself! You will NOT be disappointed! Kudos to the Holland America excursion staff for putting in the effort necessary to be able to offer this most worthwhile excursion.
This is undoubtedly the excursion of the entire trip, as suspected. The tour starts off with delays. Despite the early morning departure, the tour is grounded at the airport. Although the weather in Puerto Quetzal is Ok, it's raining in Peten, our destination airport, so we cant take off until it clears and we can land there. Of course, the coordinators contact the ship and the captain agrees to hold the ship for our return giving us a wee bit more time, and as we departed literally hours before scheduled (6:20 instead of 8:00), we have an hour and a half buffer out of the gate. Once the rain stops, a new wrinkle arises. Apparently there is something wrong with our plane. Another plan shows up and they jack up the nose of our plane. very exciting. what appears to be a slightly deflated tire actually turns out to be a stuck nose wheel (can't steer/turn). As that's not good, they jack up the nose and turn it by hand to get it unstuck, and then test - looks reasonable. The captain says "It's good": as a signal for boarding. A worried HAL coordinator asks anxiously, are you sure it safe, who which he responds "It's all OK". Falcon boards confidently having no doubt pyramids are on the horizon and knowing he cant perish until at least the para-sailing adventure in Half Moon Cay. The flight leaves at around 8:45 so only slightly behind schedule. At Peten we transfer to a tour bus which beetles along the highway past roadside stands, churches, school yards and the sort of roadside scenery one expects to see in Mexico and Central America. The trip takes an hour, and as we are late, the tour obtains permission to drive through the park to a drop off point by the first pyramid. This will add almost 45 minutes to our touring time at the site.
The tour starts with the very impressive roaring of nearby howler monkeys as we get off the tour bus. On first contact, the sound is more like that of an African lion than a smaller Monkey. A climb up 210 wooden stairs and a few stone ones put the team atop the majestic pyramid called Temple IV looking out over the jungle. We look out across the "Star Wars Rebel Moon of Yavin Star" scene and can spot at least 4 other pyramids. This is the breathtaking moment when one stands on a 1500 year old structure with no sign of modern civilization as far as the eye can see. Very cool. On the way down the stairs, a brown praying mantis is spotted on a side railing. We walk through the jungle to Temple III. Along the way our guide infuriates the Howlers into more territorial screams and the flinging of random debris (branches, excrement). Spider Monkeys are also seen as are clouds of midges. Temple III is mostly still buried by the jungle which has climbed up and covered all 4 sides.
Time to enter the Grand Plaza. The Temple of the Jaguar faces the Temple Odelas Mascoras (Queens temple). On the left, facing the Jaguar temple is the burial tombs and on the right is the residences (for the wealthy class). It is not permitted to climb the very steep steps of the pyramids themselves, and they do not look to be in the right shape for any such attempt. However, the Temple Odelas Mascoras has wooden steps ion the side to allow Falcon to gain a vantage point. One part of these steps is just as steep as those found on the Midway. Random chooses to visit the residences instead while Falcon clambers up and darn near slithers down the last near vertical segment of steps, not significantly different than the temple steps themselves. The climb is worth it for the pictures and being able to look across the plaza at the Jaguar temple. There is no access to the pyramid interior unless one is an excavator archeologist on site.
After returning to the ground and poking around the burial area (with views of a giant face mask and a partial serpent stele siding), the tour eventually leaves the plaze and boards the tour bus. A short ride past a set of smaller twin pyramids (closer to double size Izapa structures), brings the tour to a lunch stop for a variety of Pollo (Chicken). A large green bug (2 inches perhaps) of some nature lands nearby and provides some quick amusement. Much of the bus trip is through torrential rains up until the flight back which offered unusual views of one of the twin volcano's near the port. Fun Rating = 10/10 - Overall Trip Highlight.
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10out of11found this review helpful.
Review 12 for Tikal, Mayan City of Voices
A great trip to Tikal
Date:January 24, 2011
Cruise Date Month:December
Would you recommend this product to a friend? Yes
As part of our New Years holiday cruise we booked an excursion to Tikal. This excursion was one of the reasons we chose this particular cruise itinerary. We took this tour from Santo Tomas de Castilla port on the Caribbean side of Guatemala.
The tour was well organized and took the entire day (9 hours). It included a bus trip from the port to the local airport, a 1 hour plane ride on a chartered plane, a 1 hour bus trip from the destination airport to Tikal, a guided tour of the Tikal site, a lunch in an open air restaurant with cloth table cloths and napkins, soup, a hot chicken lunch, fruit for dessert and a soft drink and transportation back to the ship. The buses that were used were modern comfortable buses. The plane was a two engine turbo prop that held 34 passengers. There were complimentary snacks, coffee and soft drinks on board. Both bus trips had a guide.
On the bus trip in the port city, the guide provided some history of the area. On the trip to Tikal, the guide provided historical information about Tikal and the Mayans. This allowed for more time to see the site. The Tikal site is huge. You can’t possibly see it all on this tour, but we did see major sections. It really was amazing. (BTW if you are a Star Wars fan, part of “A New Hope” was filmed here – Yavin 4. You can climb onto one of the temples and see the scene from the movie).
We really wanted to see Tikal as part of this trip. So, although the excursion is expensive, we viewed it as part of the cost for the cruise fare. We knew this would likely be the only opportunity we would have to see this. Also .... on some cruises, we have booked shore excursions from independent tour operators. I would not recommend this approach for this particular tour. To see Tikal and get to and from the ship in one day takes a great deal of coordination and the work of many people. I would only trust the cruise line to organize this, otherwise your ship may leave without you.