Tikal National Park, Guatemala

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Tikal National Park is a gorgeous and lush jungle with magnificent temples scattered throughout the hills. It definitely tops the charts for the most interesting ruins we’ve seen, along with the Palenque Ruins in Mexico. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Tikal was the capital of the one of the most powerful Mayan kingdoms. The oldest architecture dates back to the 4th century BC. Teotihuacan, the first site we visited in Mexico, conquered Tikal. The name is thought to mean “the place of the voices.” We spent a few hours strolling along the jungle paths and climbing to the top of a few of the temples. We spotted a few toucans, as well as spider monkeys. Spider monkeys are known to defecate on people when they feel their territory is being threatened. Thankfully, we did not experience it.

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We camped in Tikal National Park that night. And let me tell you, it was hot as all get out. As sweat pooled and we craved even the slightest of breezes, we finally drifted to sleep. At around 3am, we awoke to the deep bellowing of howler monkeys above. For about thirty minutes, all you could hear was the terrifying hollering of the males claiming their territory. Filmmakers recorded their threatening hollers for the movie Jurassic Park. I was instantly thankful for the flimsy flaps of the tent separating us from the unpredictable noises outside. Although no one slept well, it was an incredible experience.

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