The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal Ruins is one of the most spectacular, if not, the MOST spectacular Mayan ruins in all of Mesoamerica. They are composed of several structures, including palaces, temples, plazas, and other structures which have been carefully preserved over the years, offering visitors a glimpse of their mighty civilization.
Visiting the Tikal Ruins is a must on any Guatemala itinerary, but to really immerse yourself in the ex-glory, camping in Tikal is a must. It is a definitely a bucket list experience in Guatemala!
But camping in Tikal isn’t so straightforward. Matter of fact, visiting the Tikal National Park isn’t as well. That is why we have written this guide so you can have all the information to plan your visit to Tikal National Park and find out how to camp there!
Where Are The Tikal Mayan Ruins?
Tikal Ruins is located inside the Tikal National Park, a protected region in the Peten region of Guatemala. The Peten region of Guatemala consists of one-third of Guatemala’s area and contains some of the most tropical rainforests. Tikal is located in one of those tropical rainforests.
If visiting Mayan ruins in the middle of a rainforest does not excite you, I don’t know what does.
Tikal Ruins are easily accessible from the beautiful town of Flores in Guatemala or even from San Ignacio in Belize. From Flores, it takes about 1.5 hours to get to the Tikal ruins. If you are considering doing a sunrise tour, staying in Flores is the only option you have.
However, if you are satisfied with visiting Tikal in the day, you can easily do it from Belize. However, I highly recommend doing the sunrise tour and staying in Flores. Flores is a small beautiful town with lots of exciting things to do.
If you don’t want to do any planning and want to see Tikal for sunrise, check out our recommended Tikal sunrise tour from Flores!
Entrance Fee For Tikal National Park
The cost to enter Tikal National Park is 150Q for regular entrance and 250Q for sunrise or sunset entrance.
The tricky part is, to enter for sunset and sunrise, you MUST have a tour guide. This is because no one is allowed in the park in the dark for safety reasons (and probably money reasons).
If you want to camp in the campground of Tikal National Park, you have to pay an extra 50Q per person to use their campground. In addition to that, if you want to rent out hammocks or a tent from them, it is 50Q and 75Q, respectively. However, the price could be negotiated down.
There are two ways to get a tour guide.
- You arrive at the park on your own through public buses and rent a private guide at the park (the guide could cost up to 100 USD)
- You get a group tour that includes a tour guide in either Flores or Belize.
How to Purchase Tickets For Tikal Mayan Ruins
READ CAREFULLY: Changes have been recently in regard to purchasing tickets for the ruins.
You can ONLY purchase tickets in BANRURAL banks and at the entrance of the park. For people that are visiting Tikal Ruins during the day, getting your ticket at the entrance of the park is the best way. But since this entrance is only open from 6 AM to 6 PM, anyone that would want to see the sunrise inside the National Park must purchase their ticket another way.
Not to add that the entrance of the park and the actual ruins are 17 kilometers away, and there is no transfer to take you there. So this is where it can get complicated.
For those coming from Flores and wanting to do a Tikal sunrise tour, you must purchase your ticket in advance at a BANRURAL anywhere in the country. Luckily for you, there is a BANRURAL 10 minutes walk from Flores. Here is the map attached below.
The bank ONLY accepts cash, it will be 150Q for day entrance or 250Q for sunrise or sunset entrance. You will also need a form of identification (ID or passport).
For those coming from Belize, chances are you won’t be able to see the sunrise tour and won’t have to go through the hassle of buying the ticket a day in advance.
If you do decide to do a sunrise tour from Belize, you should be on a tour that will give you information on how to purchase a sunrise ticket.
For those that would like to go camping and see the sunrise on the next day, buy your ticket at the bank the day before. Get to the entrance of the park, buy the camping ticket there for 50Q, and then once you are at the campground, you can rent out tents and hammocks for 75Q and 50Q, respectively.
How Much Does A Tikal Tour Cost?
Usually, I am against tours because I like to do things at my own pace. I don’t like to be rushed and told what to do. I would much rather explore at my own pace and find the things that interest me. However, I would highly recommend getting a guided tour for Tikal Ruins.
As the best thing to do in Flores Guatemala, there are numerous travel agencies in Flores offering guided tours to Tikal Ruins. The trick is finding the most affordable one!
After scouting around, we found the best Tikal tour deal at the travel agency inside Los Amigos Youth Hostel.
Camping In Tikal National Park
Camping in Tikal National Park was definitely one of the most amazing things to do in Guatemala.
Tikal National Park is located in the heart of the tropical rainforest. This means that when you go to bed, you are surrounded by wildlife. But remember, the jungle never sleeps.
Throughout the night, you could hear the growling of howler monkeys (which is the same sound they used to make T-rex noises in the movie Jurassic Park), the rustling of the leaves and branches, and much more.
From what I have read, there are jaguars, cougars, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, parrots, toucans, and more in the rainforest. The tour guide that we were with has personally seen a few jaguars in the park himself.
If you aren’t excited by this already, camping allows you to see the sunrise much easier. If you were departing from Flores to see the sunrise, you would have to get up at 3:00 AM. But if you were camping in Tikal, you would get a little more sleep.
Did I mention the stars that you can see at night from the campsite?
The Logistics of Camping in Tikal Ruins
Camping is a little different in Tikal than other campsites because you cannot make a reservation in advance. You simply show up the day of and tell them you want to camp there.
You have to buy a camping pass at the entrance of the park for 50Q per person. Then once you arrive at the campsite (which is near the Visitors Center and quite a far distance from the entrance of the park), you have the option to either rent a tent (fits 2) for 75Q or rent a hammock for 50Q.
If you are planning to do the Tikal sunrise tour, you must purchase your sunrise entrance ticket (250Q) the day before. You will not be able to purchase it on the morning of because the bank is closed and very far from the campground.
Also, remember I mentioned that you will need a tour guide for sunrise tours? Yes, you will need a guide. There are private guides in the morning at the park but those are EXPENSIVE. I heard they cost around 100 USD.
THIS IS WHERE IT GETS TRICKY!
If you want to save money and avoid hiring the expensive tour guides at the entrance of the park, follow these steps:
- Go to the BANRURAL in town and purchase a sunrise entrance ticket for Tikal the day before.
- Purchase a sunrise tour from any of the tour agencies and inform them that you will be camping there and won’t need transportation to get to Tikal National Park.
- Find a way to get to Tikal National Park the day you want to camp overnight. We took public transportation to get there ourselves (we’ll show you how below).
- Arrive at the entrance of Tikal National Park and get the camping pass.
- Arrive at the campsite in Tikal National Park and get your tents or hammocks.
Once you are all settled in, we recommend that you eat at the comedors (Spanish for local restaurants in Guatemala) instead of the restaurants in the hotel. It is much more affordable. After dinner, relax, stargaze, take some cool photos and head to bed early!
You’ll need to get up around 4 AM to meet up with the sunrise group tour coming from Flores!
Tikal Campground Conditions & Amenities
The campground is a big open green space with several thatched huts with no walls and cement ground.
The tent we rented was very basic (pretty much just a plastic shell). To our surprise, the temperature in Tikal was quite chilly at night and we didn’t bring sleeping bags or anything like that. There were bathrooms next to the campground, which was situated about 150 meters away.
The bathrooms had toilet paper, showers, and water for brushing your teeth. Obviously, they did not have hot water. I would suggest bringing a headlamp for the walk to the bathroom. Flashlight from the phone is perfectly fine.
If you want to drink the water, we recommend having a way to filter it or use something like a LifeStraw Water Bottle or a GRAYL Filtered Bottle.
We did not shower and could barely sleep at night due to the wildlife noises and the cold. But if you were to ask me to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat. To be able to be at one with the jungle and experience what that is like is truly an unforgettable experience.
Restaurants Inside Tikal National Park
There are two types of restaurants in Tikal National Park – the comedors or the restaurants that are attached to the hotels.
The three hotel restaurants in Tikal are the Jaguar Inn Restaurant, Restaurant Jungle Lodge Hotel, and the Tikal Inn Restaurant. We didn’t eat there as we heard the food is average and overpriced.
We opted for dinner at the comedors nearby. The food was pretty good there and the prices were a lot more affordable. Keep in mind that the comedors close at 9 PM.
There are also small tiendas (shops) outside the park that sells snacks, drinks, and beers.
How To Get To Tikal National Park From Flores With Public Transportation
Getting to Tikal National Park from Flores is actually quite easy with public transportation. All it requires is one public bus (chicken bus or camionetta in Spanish). Once you arrive at the bus terminal, people will ask you where you are going and you just tell them Tikal and they will point you to the right bus.
We paid 30Q for our bus journey. This bus will stop at the entrance where you can purchase your tickets for the park.
Where to Stay In Flores Guatemala
Best Hostel In Flores – Los Amigos Hostel
Arrive solo, leave with a family.
Los Amigos Youth Hostel is one of the best hostels in Flores Guatemala. Featuring its own tour agency and a beautiful garden area to make new friends, a day in Flores will never be boring. With pets like rabbits, turtles, quail and many more on the property, your heart will melt away!
Best Luxury Hotel In Flores – Hotel Isla de Flores
Hotel Isla de Flores is a luxury hotel that you won’t easily find in Guatemala. Featuring well-decorated rooms and huge beds, guests can properly relax after camping in the Tikal jungle for a night. Their rooftop swimming pool is one of my favorite features of this hotel!
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This concludes our guide on how to visit Tikal Mayan Ruins! We hope it has given you the necessary information to plan a visit to Tikal National Park and more important, how to camp there!
Any questions? Let us know in the comments!
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