San Ignacio is only 115km by road to Tikal National Park (a UNESCO site) and home of one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centres of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization.
We piled into the van and headed west to the Guatemala border. Enroute I asked the son of the tour operator: “So, how many people have forgotten their passports when going to Tikal?!”.
He smiles, lets out a chuckle and replies: “seven so far this month”.
It’s amazing people forget that Tikal is not in Belize and you need to do the immigration and customs song & dance when entering Guatemala before heading to the ruins.
Those that forgot their passports? They get 50% of their money back and take a cab back to their hotel.
In order to expedite the crossing, we hand our passports to the owners son while he waits in line #1. Line #2, the one we’re in, is to pay the Belize exit fee of $40BZD. Once we get our receipt, we meet up with our passports to get our exit stamp.
I’m heading back to the van and I start laughing. I see our driver swapping out the licence plate on the van. He replaced his Belizean plates for a Guatemalan one.
“Is this for tax purposes?!” I joke.
“Something like that!” the driver replies.
We spend the next 80 minutes or so on the road heading to the national park and ruins.
Today was hot. It was in the low 30s with the humidity only a rain forest can offer. Even with the sun beating down on us, the trip and views were worth it.
We climbed Temple IV, the tallest Mayan structure ever created. The views from the top gave you complete oversight over the entire city along with tens of kilometres of visibility to the horizon.
Tikal was the first place where I saw jungle wildlife. We encountered spider monkeys and came across a few groups of Coatis. Spotting what looked like a peacock ended up being an Ocellated turkey.
We stopped in the mid afternoon and found a vendor where we spent some of our quetzals on some local beers. Like all beers brewed in this region, it was light and refreshing, just what we needed after climbing all those steps.
By four o’clock we were beat from the sun and the stairs. Our driver was waiting for us near the entrance of the park. The three of us piled into the van and passed out on our drive back to Belize.
Being Christmas eve, we wanted to hit up a nice restaurant for dinner. TripAdvisor lead us the way where we headed out to the #1 rated restaurant in San Igancio: Guava Limb Cafe.
The atmosphere was great and the staff were pleasant. It was a welcome change from the restaurants along the tourist strip on Burn’s Ave. They even had a Turkey dinner special for Christmas.
With full bellies our heads hit the pillow hard. Another action packed day under our belts.