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The highlight of our time in Guatemala was Tikal National Park, the most incredible set of Mayan ruins in the world. But Tikal with kids, is that really going to work? Is it safe? Is it too hot, too high, too boring, too far? No way, the boys had a ball. It’s always important to learn something about the places you visit, before you go, we include some YouTube videos about Tikal for kids in this post.
Get your children interested in the Maya, Guatemala and Tikal before you visit. We include links to educational resources in this post.
Tikal with Kids. Is it Safe?
Well, it’s as safe as you make it. The pyramids are up to 70m high and yes, you can climb some of the incredibly steep stone stairs. Some of the pyramids have wooden stairways built out of sight to protect the monuments, some are closed to climbers.
If your children are anything like mine they’ll race off to the top without even pausing for breath leaving the adults puffing below. We had to insist on a degree of hand holding and edge avoidance, but we were happy that the kids were safe enough. Normal supervision really.
Is it Too Far for Kids to Walk Around the Tikal Site in the Heat?
It’s hot, but most of the vast Tikal site is shaded by sub-tropical rainforest, you’re not often in direct sunlight. There is a fair bit of ground to cover, the pyramids and temples are scattered through the forest, linked by clear paths. We spent almost 7 hours at Tikal and didn’t see it all. We had a guide, so we spent some time listening to him, sitting down. By the end of our visit my 7-year-old was really tired, hot and wanting a break for a while. Maybe we’re too soft, but he’s our baby, look how pleased he was to be carried.
TIPS for Tikal with kids: Go early, we left Flores at 4.30am to be at Tikal for 6am. By lunchtime the park was super hot and super crowded. There are toilets in the park and stalls to buy drinks and snacks but take as much water as you can carry. You can take small children into the park in buggies and strollers, the paths are good enough.
Is Tikal Interesting For Kids?
Tikal was a huge hit with my boys. Their highlights included:
- The great wildlife. Coatis, monkeys, birds, spiders and the ultra exciting bullet ants. ( Blame Steve Backshall for that!)
- The Star Wars connection.
- The Transformers Face.
- The tarantula tree.
- Exploring the residences, jumping and climbing, Tikal is like a huge adventure playground.
- Gory stories and interesting tales of blood letting and sacrifice from our wonderful guide. He also taught the boys how to call to birds and monkeys.
Nothing will get your kids racing to Tikal faster, than telling them it was in Star Wars.
I’m a zoologist by training, but Steve Backshall has been responsible for more of my kids’ biological education than I have.
At Tikal we took the boys to the learning, it was an adventure, it was fun and it gave them lasting insight into the Mayans, history and archaeology.
Want to read more about our time in Guatemala, try these posts:
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