Tikal National Park, Guatemala.

If you’re a fan of the adventures of Indiana Jones, a jungle trip to Tikal, the ancient Mayan city in northern Guatemala, may well suit. In order to experience the incredible dawn cacophony of howler monkeys, coatimundi, toucans and parrots announcing the start of the day, you must spend a night in the Tikal National Park, enduring the humidity and menacing mosquitoes. The electricity goes off at night and the food is hardly haute cuisine.

Yet the Temples at Tikal, used again since 1996 for rituals by the Mayan people, are like no others, reports the New York Times. Surpassing the better known Mexican Mayan site Chichén Itzá, in some respects, Tikal is livelier, with pilgrims coming for major festivals and often on Sundays. In contrast to Chichén Itzá, which was fully cleared, some buildings have been left partly covered by jungle, giving visitors a sense of how the site looked when it was found.

The 150 feet Temples, burial places to Kings and Queens, are on a par with the Pyramids, assure experienced travellers. The plaza was the centre of life in the city’s heyday, from the third to the ninth century A.D. and some parts of the city date back to 800 B.C. At the city’s peak it was a dominant city state, home to about 70,000 people.

Even die-hard ‘Indianas’ can make life more comfortable by visiting between December and February, when the area is less humid and staying in Flores, a cobblestone colonial town on an island in Lake Petén Itzá. La Luna (Calle 30 de Junio) has the best food around.

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