How to get from San Ignacio to Tikal – Stay in Tikal overnight
Staying overnight in Tikal is a great way to beat the crowds and experience the Jungle that the ancient city is surrounded by. In our first couple of hours in the area we saw coatis, spider monkeys, howler monkeys and many birds. But what are the logistics of getting here from San Ignacio in Belize? I can tell you now it’s a journey I wasn’t looking forward to after a few crowded chicken buses in Belize. But it actually getting from San Ignacio to Tikal worked out really well.
So here’s a run down of times and prices for the San Ignacio to Tikal border crossing.
Taxi 15 Belizean Dollars to border, 30 mins. You can get a Collectivo if not travelling on a Sunday for 5 Belize per person.
You can change any leftover Belizean Dollar at the Belize border, but the rate isn’t the best.
Pay 40 Belizean Dollar exit fee at Belize immigration.
Walk through to Guatemala immigration (on the left in a green building, be careful not to miss it!) No entry cost for tourists.
Walk 500 meters straight up road to Banrural bank. ATM is always open but the bank opening hours are 9:00-18:00 Monday – Friday, Saturday closed, Sunday 9:00-12:00. This is where you can also buy your tickets for Tikal.
-Tickets to Tikal can also be purchased 20 minutes before you get to the Tikal hotels at the first gate. Hours are 06:00-18:00 everyday, just make sure to request a stop from your driver (there’s a barrier anyway so it’s pretty obvious).
Walk along the road and it’s easy to find a Taxi to Tikal. It should be between 350 to 450 Quetzals, feel free to barter according to your budget. You can also get a Collectivo if you turn right from the border then take the first left. It costs just 55 Quetzals each but involves changing at El Cruce as the Collectivos from here only go to Flores. It takes about 2 and a half hours instead of the hour and a half by taxi. You can read a more in depth guide about this option here.
You have a few options for staying at Tikal to make the most of the 6am start and being one of the first there.
-Remember, you have to buy your tickets at the border or on the way in from the first gate, there are no tickets at the hotel or second entrance.
Hotel Jaguar Inn is a good option for backpackers, at $50 a night it’s not exactly budget, but you are in a jungle surrounded by nature and right next to the entrance to Tikal. We’d heard the food wasn’t great and a little expensive so we ate in the comedors in the park. The WiFi is bad/non existent and there isn’t any electric between 21:00 and 09:00 so make sure you get a shower the night before. They do exchange USD, EURO and BZD but the rate isn’t amazing. You can pay by card!
We went and visited Tikal at 6am, left the bags in the room, came back at 11:30, showered and checked out at 12. The bus to Flores is at 12:30 so time for a quick lunch. You can also stay at Jungle Lodge and Tikal Inn which are similar but a bit more pricey. There is even an option to camp here but it’s a jungle, so it’s a no from me.
I highly recommend the Tikal App. It has offline maps, info on wildlife and explanations of everything you will see. Take the jungle path in and the first thing you will come across is the grand plaza, it’s about a 20 minute walk through the jungle and you are sure to see some wildlife on the way.
Getting to Flores from Tikal
Now there’s one easy option to make the next journey to Flores. We just left our bags in the hotel, grabbed them after visiting Tikal, then jumped in one of the collectivo’s leaving from the main car park. They run from 6:30 to 17:00 apart from Sunday’s when the last one is 11am. They cost 35 for the 1 hour journey and drop you off in Flores bus station. Then you can get a quick 5 minute ride in a tuk tuk to Flores Island (where everyone stays).
If you do stay in Flores check out ARCAS a rehabilitation center for wildlife and victims of the pet trade. Just donate 25 Quetzals (or more!) at the entrance or stay for a week as a volunteer for just 200USD. Find out more here.
The San Ignacio to Tikal border crossing is super easy. Going by collectivo costs less if there’s not many of you travelling together, but takes longer and is of course more crowded.
You will need to get cash out in Quetzals at the border as there are no ATMs in the jungle (seems obvious?).
The total journey time is around 2.5 hours via taxi including the border crossing. You can add an hour or two if using public transport.
There is always someone waiting to make money. By which I mean ignore anyone saying there aren’t any collectivos running or taxi’s will not go from town. As long as you make the park gate by 6pm to buy tickets you will be fine.
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