We journeyed to Tikal on the overnight bus from Guatemala City. It was one of our few trips to the big, scary city that we had deliberately avoided because of the prolific violence. The bus however was relative luxury. We zoomed through the nights on the good roads linking the capital with its biggest tourist attraction. Guatemala really is the most beautiful country, it is the closest thing we have found to New Zealand in terms of the variety and compactness of its geographical wonders, but many tourists only visit for three days, visiting the colonial city of Antigua and it's live volcano Pacaya and the wonders of Tikal.
We arrived early morning in the lakeside village of Flores and arranged transport to Tikal. Flores itself is a pretty little backpacker hub with cobbled streets and lake views
Arriving at Tikal we were surprised and happy that we could camp on a nice piece of grass outside a fancy hotel. Sweaty jungle camping but value nevertheless, especially given after three months in Xela we were used to (close to) locals prices. I can't remember the entrance fee for the ruins themselves, only that it was worth it. The temples soared above the canopy just like the images from unrecallable cartoons, movies and books. We climbed some of them by the precarious wooden steps and explored the jungle paths. Attacks on tourists do happen here so its pays to be wary.
Our favourite structure was the "lost world" pyramid, a more ancient structure than the complex temples, but you could climb the stairs and sit on its summit. After a siesta in the heat of the day we returned to this spot and sat for hours watching the birds and monkeys in the canopy below us, and watching the sunset over the Grand Jaguar temple until the guards moved us on.