I took a shuttle from Belize across the border to Guatemala to visit the Maya Ruins of Tikal. Possibly, my favorite part of this trip.
I walked through a rainforest and then voila, I entered a clearing with ancient ruins surrounded by the remains of temples that tower over 70 metres (230 ft) high.
There were 2 memorable parts of this visit:
1) Sunset in Tikal
I went up the tallest (70 metres) temple, Temple IV, with another traveller I met in Belize. At the top of the temple steps, you have a view of the endless rainforest below. It was nearing sunset and the park was closing, but 20 Quetzals to the guard bought us more time and he let us stay to watch the sunset. It was pitch black as we descended the temple and luckily the guard escorted us out of the park or else we would have likely got lost in the forest and would have had to sleep on an ancient sacrificial stone slab - an adventurous idea, but it was super cold out and my bed sounded less eerie.
2) Sunrise in Tikal
A few hours later, we woke up at 3:45 am and went with a guide, who paid off the guards at the park entrance to let us into the park early.
We returned to Temple IV where we sat above the expansive forest floor and underneath a clear sky with shooting stars. It was so serene and unforgettable.
Then the light started to creep in and all of a sudden a spooky howling sound began to permeate through the forest. It was the Howler monkeys waking up the rainforest animal kingdom. They literally `howled` for 20 to 30 minutes until the sun rose like an orange egg through the clouds.
Good Morning sun!
Good Bye moon!
Hello ancient maya temples poking through the trees!
NEXT STOP: Antigua and a hike of an active volcano