Situated in a region of the world where infrastructure is not its forte, Tikal, Guatemala can be a little difficult to get to! There are two major ways of getting there: driving or flying, neither of which are favorable, economically or logistically. So what are you going to do? Just abandon this majestic work of art from ancestors centuries ago? No. We’re going to get creative. Here’s how I got to Tikal, some of the issues I ran into, and how I suggest doing it yourself.
How I Got There
In 2013, my Grandpa and I took a Gulf of Mexico road trip. We began in Cancun and eventually reached Tikal before turning around and heading back. Obviously, there were numerous stops in between at places such as Playa del Carmen, Chetumal, Belize City, Belmopan, and a few others. We rented a car through America Car Rental, something I don’t suggest due to poor service and costs. We drove all the way down into Belize, over to Guatemala, and back in 17 Days. Renting the car gave us the ability to create our own agendas and do as we wished.
Issues I Had
As you could imagine, renting a car and taking it across two different country borders is a task too big for many. I wrote about the whole experience here. But, being the big, macho, manly men we are, we decided to go for it. For starters, let me tell you that it is incredibly difficult to get the correct forms and right number of them in order to take a rented vehicle over borders. Little did we know before setting off, we needed two copies of our release form from America Car Rentals, authorizing our taking of their vehicle into another country. Of course, America Car Rentals didn’t inform us of this, so there we were, stuck at the Belize-Guatemala border with this dilemma, no phone, and very little cash. But like I said, you can read about that experience in the other post.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that, once on the National Park, nobody takes card. Even better? The nearest ATM is an hour away. Even better? So is the nearest gas station….located in Isla de Flores. BRING LOTS OF CASH AND BE FULL ON GAS. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. Just be prepared. On the bright side, Isla de Flores is a wonderful place. Somewhere I would spend an entire vacation in fact!
Other Means of Getting There
There are numerous ways of getting to Tikal; some cheap ways, some not so cheap ways, some fast ways, and some not so fast ways. It depends on your time preference and budget.
Driving: If you’re interested in driving to Tikal, there are two ways that make the most sense: from Guatemala City or from Belize. Obviously, as stated above, I took the Belize route. From Belize City, the location of the largest airport, it’s a three and a half hour drive. That’s nothing in comparison to the eight and a half it would take you from Guatemala City.
Flying: In Isla de Flores, there is an airport with flights arriving from Guatemala City and Belize City. However, once you get there, you will need to take a taxi or bus up to the National Park. I’d suggest budgeting roughly GTQ200 (~$50.00) for a round trip ticket. The costs of tickets from Belize City to Flores can get a little pricy ($300 year round). I would only take this option if it’s your last resort given that there are numerous other ways of getting there.
Flying from Guatemala City is a little cheaper, but not by much. Note: The dates chosen were at random, but were guestimated to be “off-season” times.
Hopping on a Tour: There are plenty of tour companies who are able to get you to Tikal, such as Adrenaline Tours or Tours Guatemala. Some tours base their adventure in Guatemala City, some in Belize, some in Flores! You just need to do your research and know what you’re paying for!
I hope all of this helps! If you’ve been there, have I missed anything? Anything the readers should know? Comment below!