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Travel on a budget questions

Antigua, Guatemala
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Travel on a budget questions

Hi, I am looking to make a trip to Tikal in August with a friend (two females traveling alone). I speak Spanish fluently having lived here as a missionary for over 2.5 years. I am very comfortable with the "luxuries" of normal Guatemalan Highland life. I earn a Guatemalan wage and obviously I'll have to splurge a little (lot!) for this trip. We have considered stopping at Semuc Champey either on the way or the way back.

1) Would it be better to rent a car, or would we be okay doing this on a bus?

2) Is it better to book a hotel in the park or in a nearby town? (From what I've read, the hotels in the park are quite expensive; however, booking outside of the park would require transport to the park and there are the park hours to consider.)

3) I've heard there is camping allowed; would it be safe for two females to camp in a tent for the night? Where can a tent be rented and how much would it cost?

Bethesda, MD
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1. Re: Travel on a budget questions

Generally, it would be far more expensive to rent a car than to travel on buses and shuttles. Similarly, it is more expensive to stay at one of the park hotels than to stay in, say, El Remate, half an hour outside the park, where hotels are far more affordable. You'd have to pay for the shuttles back and forth to the park, but it would still be cheaper than staying at a park hotel; I could see spending a night in the park, to be able to do a sunrise and/or sunset tour. El Remate will also have electricity at all hours and better and more affordable meals.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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2. Re: Travel on a budget questions

I agree with the above, it would be cheaper to stay in Flores or El Remate but worth the splurge imo to stay at least 1 night in the park. You can only do the sunrise tour while staying in the park and, although often it's misty and you can't actually see the sun, I really treasure the experience of hiking in the dark through the site and watching and listening to the jungle come to life from the top of a Maya temple.

BC
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3. Re: Travel on a budget questions

<< You can only do the sunrise tour while staying in the park>>

Yes, that is what I thought, too. Till I got there and found that there are tours that leave Flores early am to do the sunrise tour. Something isn't as it seems.

The Dalles, Oregon
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4. Re: Travel on a budget questions

They are early and claim sunrise but don't arrive in the dark, at least my experience and observation.

BC
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5. Re: Travel on a budget questions

Yes, it also might depend on the time of year (how early sunrise is). But I was surprised when in Flores to hear the sunrise being offered. And then when you get up to the top of the Temple, to see how many people are up there already.

The Dalles, Oregon
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6. Re: Travel on a budget questions

My sunrise tours have always left by 4am or so and I've been about the 1st up on top. The dawn time doesn't really change much that close to the equator - only about a 45-50 minute swing between December and June. The rules for entry and costs at Tikal are constantly changing and it's obviously possible for folks to end-run around the rules. Won't change my mind about choosing to stay in the park, though! ;-)

BC
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7. Re: Travel on a budget questions

Yes, I liked staying in the park as well. We left the Tikal Inn about 4:15 for the sunrise (waiting for the stragglers), but it just meant that we sat up there in the dark for a long, boring time until it began to get light. No talking allowed during the walk either....

If you are on a budget, one night in the park can suit you well. Check out the options for accommodation.

The Dalles, Oregon
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8. Re: Travel on a budget questions

My most recent sunrise tour I was with Roxy Ortiz and so no worries about boredom - she's a blast. Leaving the temple, we wove through tiny jungle trails - lots of wildlife and another highlight of the morning.

BC
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9. Re: Travel on a budget questions

I was SO disappointed that Roxy wasn't available for our time at Tikal.

I can't remember whether it was you who said this, or someone else, but I remembered the bit about Roxy telling interesting stories at the top of Temple IV. So does she just wait until everyone else has left to talk? I found the mandatory silence up there kinda strange, but I suppose with all those people there has to be some rules.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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10. Re: Travel on a budget questions

We honored the silence on top but talked nonstop the rest of the 4 days we were together last summer. It's impossible not to become a Preclassic junky after a few days with her. Maybe you'll get back there someday - I always figure anything I miss is just an excuse to return. :-)

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