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Guides at Tikal

Franklin, Tennessee
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29 posts
36 reviews
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Guides at Tikal

I know this has been discussed but I would love to hear someone's personal experience of approaching the gate at Tikal without being part of a tour. Are there guides there just waiting to offer you tours? How much do they charge? Does it depend on the individual or number in group? I know a guide is recommended but has anyone tried to walk it on their own? Also, has anyone had good or bad experiences with arranging guides though the Jungle Lodge?

6 replies to this topic
The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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1. Re: Guides at Tikal

My first visit to Tikal was 15 years ago. Our family (kids were 17, 18, and 20 at the time) read extensively about the site ahead of time and chose to explore without a guide; we had an amazing time. It wasn't until my next visit - 2009 - when based on a recent forum review I hired archaeologist/naturalist Roxy Ortiz for a group of educators I had in tow I learned what we'd missed. The tour was fantastic, 4 hours fled past, and I've been back to tour with Roxy half a dozen more times since then. The difference between no guide - even though we've studied Maya history since adopting our son from Guatemala in the 80s and were well prepared - and having an outstanding guide is like night and day, no turning back for me, although I still enjoy exploring on my own as well during an extended visit.

There's a visitor center where you can arrange a guide on the spot, although there's not an unending supply so arranging in advance or at least early in the day is recommended. I can't speak to the quality of the guides arranged by Jungle Lodge but can say that I've overheard some regrettably poor guides in action and have read some sad reviews over the years. I have not seen more than 1 or 2 people at the building at the entrance to the Maya site so, unless that's changed since my last visit - 2016 - I don't think you can pick up a guide there.

Also in 2016 I met and toured Yaxhá with Marlon Díaz and really enjoyed it. He has worked in tourism in Petén since he was a teenager and started his own business just a few years ago; I think his Trip Advisor reviews speak for themselves. Here are links for Roxy and Marlon:

www.tikalroxy.blogspot.com

www.gemtrips.com

Franklin, Tennessee
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29 posts
36 reviews
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2. Re: Guides at Tikal

Thank you so much, I have attempted several times to contact Roxy but she has never responded. I contacted Marlon and he was very prompt and through with his reply. We are considering his company but trying to make sure we understand all of our options first.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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13,530 posts
331 reviews
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3. Re: Guides at Tikal

There's a caveat on Roxy's website about how busy she is. She feels badly about not being able to respond to everyone but it's just a fact of her busy life.

"PLEASE NOTE that Roxy has work obligations in addition to guiding and is frequently without internet for a week or more at a time, returning to hundreds of emails; it is not possible for her to respond to every request."

I hope it works out for you to tour with Marlon - tell him Stacey says hi. :-)

Edited: 07 June 2018, 00:20
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4. Re: Guides at Tikal

There seems to always be guides available at the Information Center roundabout even in low season (although booking in advance never hurts). However, they are a really mixed bag and you don't have a clue what you are getting. Personally, I think getting a good guide book is probably a better choice than showing up and getting whoever is there. Paying for a bad guide that you can't understand, or who is fabricating history to make a good story will be disappointing.

All the Tikal Park hotel guides are usually decent to good. My experience is that the three hotels make a lot of money off them and seem to screen them well.

Edited: 07 June 2018, 05:12
Paris, Canada
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5. Re: Guides at Tikal

We have been to Tikal 4 times (once as a couple and three times with different groups of friends). We have always visited on our own. We had our guidebook and there is a map in Tikal as well. We found it pretty easy to walk from temple to temple and to explore more off the beaten path areas as well. I am sure a good guide could enhance the visit (tell you more about the history and point out more wildlife) but good guides are not cheap. I also just like exploring on my own. I have heard that the guides you hire on the spot can be hit or miss.

Franklin, Tennessee
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29 posts
36 reviews
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6. Re: Guides at Tikal

thanks so much, still researching and welcome suggestions!

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