As I high step my way through the ankle deep grass growing on the main grounds of the Tikal ruins in eastern Guatemala my curiosity can’t help but wander like a child in a toy castle. I walk to the foot of a two thousand year old pyramid made of large limestone bricks and sit on the bottom step as my eyes gently pan the area in awe, curiosity and confusion.
I climb the rudimentary wooden ladder leading to the top of the pyramid, careful of my every step. As I reach the top I walk to the center of the platform before looking out on my wide view of the landscape that lays before me. Great pyramids poke their silver heads through the monotonous green natural playground that has encapsulated it.
“Did great kings once sit on thrones where I now stand looking out upon their subjects,” I think while shaking disbelief from my head and chills from my spin.
The eerie cry of howler monkeys soon overtakes the air of calm which had gently hung up in the skies like clouds waiting for their turn to storm. The jungle now rules this city. Vines hang from trees and join to foliage pierced between stones of covered temples. Spider monkeys swing gracefully between the branches of trees in search of food. Mischievous coatis rummage through the site seeking unsuspecting tourists to steal a lunch from, while at the top of the canopy toucans, macaws and hummingbirds sing their early morning songs.
Tikal has a magic and mystique to it on level with some of the other great archaeological sites in the world. Places like Tikal remind us of a human history that never failed to carve out its history in the earth’s surface, proving how great mankind can be. The way the jungle has recaptured the city now reminds us that nature too is as powerful an entity as any.
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If you’re going to Tikal, chances are you’ll be staying in the nearby town of Flores. However, if you want to take advantage of the best light as a photographer to get the best photos of Tikal as possible, there is a hotel right on the grounds. You’ll still have to adhere to the opening hours of Tikal, but it will still make life easier.