Guatemala was one of the highlights of the Mayan Explorer tour we took with Kuoni, but our journey in the country end in the most comfortable way. We had been warned that the road would be bumpy but as we travelled through a small town we saw that the road... ended. Instead there was a dirt track with huge stones and pot holes and we spent about an hour and a half bumping up and down on the most uncomfortable journey I have ever experienced! The relief when we got to the border crossing - and a proper road - was wonderful, but the whole experience was worth it.
We visited Tikal National Park, the ruins of an ancient city 575 square kilometres big. There are apparently thousands of structures in the park; from a distance many of the buildings are surrounded and partly hidden by trees which make it very atmospheric. We had a guided tour which even included covering some of the distance between temples in an open-topped jeep but the paths are easy to walk along.
Temple I cannot be climbed any more (the steps are quite worn away and in the past there were a few accidents) but you can ascend Temple II - which luckily has a proper wooden staircase with handrails. It's a fair climb - 124 feet- but it's easy to stop and catch your breath and the view from the top is great.
It was quite something to be able to stand in the exact same spot and take the same photo! Here's a slightly closer-up view:
Again there are wooden stairs with a handrail so it was a much easier climb than I was expecting; it's incredibly high at 212 feet and once you're at the top, there's a wide ledge - ledge isn't really the right word as there is plenty of room and you can stay well back from the edge if you are nervous (with solid rock behind you because you are not literally on the top of the structure). This temple is thought to be the tallest erected by the Mayan people.
There were other temples and structures to see; we saw a few brave people climbing one but then really struggling to get down again, no wonder when the steps were worn away and looked like this!
Tikal is near the coast so is popular with cruise ships (or so I've read); by road it's a fair way from any of the other main tourist sites but it really is a must-see.
We had lunch at a restaurant on site, I didn't get its name. It was a set meal for our group, of chicken and gammon, flour tortillas and rice followed by banana cake and tea or coffee. We were all very hot when we arrived so were glad to be given wet flannels by the attentive staff!
There are a lot of steps - I can't vouch for whether they have disabled access but to get down to the pool (which we didn't use) or the boat there were several steep flights of steps. There were several power cuts during our stay but they only lasted a couple of minutes each.
We ate in the restaurant both nights since we didn't have transport; service was very slow both times.
They didn’t have a printed dessert menu but told us they had chocolate cake, apple pie, cheesecake or crème caramel. My boyfriend had the chocolate cake which turned out to be a chocolate fondant with melting middle which looked nice though he said it tasted like it was out of a packet. I had the cheesecake which was a small circle and tasted very good. The bill came to US$70 (£45) including tip and two glasses of wine, making it one of our most expensive meals. on this tour.
Our second dinner in the hotel restaurant was OK but nothing special,;y boyfriend had grilled chicken with rice while I had chicken enchiladas.
He had the chocolate fondant again for dessert (mainly through lack of choice for anything else he wanted) and I had the tres leche cake which is a cake soaked in condensed milk; it was quite nice but very, very sweet.