Tikal National Park Frequently Asked Questions

Tikal National Park: An Informative Q&A

Explore the ‘Tikal National Park Frequently Asked Questions’ for a comprehensive insight into its history, significance, and attractions. Dive deep into the wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage site and get answers to all your curiosities about this Mayan marvel.

Who discovers Tikal?

The ancient Mayan city of Tikal was first documented in 1848 by Modesto Mendez and Ambrosio Tut, the Corregidor and Governor of Peten, respectively. Eusebio Lara joined this initial expedition, creating the earliest sketches of Tikal’s monuments.

While local natives and possibly Spanish missionaries were aware of Tikal by the late 17th century, its existence gained broader recognition in the scientific community in 1853. This came after Mendez’s diary was published in the Gaceta de Guatemala and subsequently highlighted by the Berlin Academy of Science.”

Who manages Tikal National Park?

The park is overseen by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Cultural and Natural Heritage Directorate, and the Institute of Anthropology and History (IDAEH).

What legal framework supports the park?

Tikal’s foundation is built on:

  • A government agreement from May 26, 1955, declared it a national park.
  • A contract from June 12, 1970, recognizing its archaeological, historical, and artistic significance.
  • Decree No. 4-89, the protected areas law.
  • Decree 5-90, which designates Tikal as the core zone of the Mayan Biosphere Reserve.
  • Government agreement 239-2003, which transferred land ownership to the state of Guatemala.

How expansive is Tikal National Park?

The park covers an area of 575.83 square kilometers.

Where is Tikal located?

Tikal is situated in the northwestern sector of the Petén department, within the jurisdictions of the Flores and San José municipalities.

Why is Tikal National Park important?

Tikal is:

  • A reflection of the Mayan civilization’s grandeur.
  • One of the most visited World Heritage sites in Central America.
  • A symbol of Guatemalan identity.
  • A significant contributor to the nation’s tourism economy.
  • A protector of diverse ecosystems and cultural richness.
  • The inaugural national park of Guatemala.
  • A core area of the Mayan biosphere reserve since 1990.
  • A hub for multidisciplinary scientific research.
  • An ecological linchpin within the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
  • The origin point for several river basins and a contributor to Lake Peten Itza’s drainage.

How is Tikal National Park categorized in terms of management?

Tikal is a National Park (IUCN Category I) and serves as the core zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

What are the tourist attractions of the Tikal National Park?

These attractions have been characterized according to three aspects, listed in order of priority:

a) Cultural-Archaeological

These comprise the whole main square, site temples, temple IV, temple V, Group G, North Zone, Complexes Q, P, and R. All are located in the core archaeological zone. Archaeological collections of the Sylvanus Morley and Lithic Museum museums.

b) Biological-Ecological

Group of fauna that is observed in the core archaeological zone, such as coatis, monkeys, and Ocellated Turkeys; different species of birds; medicinal plants; species of Matapalos (Ficus spp.) that are located on the trails to temples V and VI and the ceiba trees of the core archaeological zone; the population is Xate and Pimienta from the central archaeological area.

c) Landscape-Geophysical

Panoramic views from temples II and IV, the viewpoint of San Antonio, the hill and the Aguada del Yesal, and the mountain of the Mula (on the road to Uaxactun outside the park’s limits).