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Stay in El Remate or Tikal

London
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Stay in El Remate or Tikal

Hi

Is it better to stay in Tikal Park overnight (maybe Tikal inn) or stay in El Remate? The reviews sound ok for staying in Tikal but quite overpriced for what you get. The accommodation in El Remate sounds much nicer but obviously you still have to get to the park and it is far more convenient staying in the park.

We would like to go to the park for sunrise - do you know how easy this is to do from El Remate, and also would like to stay until sunset the day before? Again, is it easy to get transport back to El Remate at this time? Is it possible to get a 24 ticket for Tikal so that you can go at sunset one day and sunrise the next, or do you have to pay the entrance fee twice?

Many thanks for your help!

P

California
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1. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

We stayed in Tikal at the Jungle Lodge a couple of weeks ago and loved it. We stayed in the rooms with shared bathrooms which were $45 for a double. They're more reasonably priced than private bath lodgings. The bathroom were close and immaculate. We only saw one other woman in the shared bathroom area. Showers were hot and had good pressure. All around, it worked very well for us. Jungle Lodge is the closest to the entrance too, and everyone was very nice.

As far as the ticket goes, we arrived at the outer gate at about 4 pm. (The vehicles stop at the outer gate to the park which is well before the entrance to the ruin section of the park.) I went to pay for the tickets, and the guy was already dating them for the following day. So if you arrive late in the day, they will automatically date them for the next day -- and we used them that day as well as the next day. I'm not sure that's true if you arrive at noon or something close to that.

Huatulco, Mexico
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2. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

I agree with the recommendation that you should stay at Jungle Lodge. My wife and I were there about 10 days ago. It is very convenient for what you want to do and the manager provided us with an excellent guide, both for birds and for the Mayan ruins. From 3:30 onwards, you can purchase a ticket at the gate which would be stamped for the next day. To organise a sunrise trip, I believe that you would need to pay an additional amount. Also, you are normally required to be out of the park by 6:00 p.m. Jungle Lodge will be able to make all the arrangements for you.

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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3. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

I recommend staying in the park - so great to explore the ruins and jungle during the cooler evening and early morning hours when the wildlife is active and you practically have the place to yourselves. There are cheaper options in Flores (about an hour away) which opens up some transportation options including 1st class buses heading to the dock in Belize City (early morning, ~$25, ~5 hours) and flights. Sometimes I've stayed 1 night in the park and 1 in Flores. In the park my favorite hotel is the Tikal Inn and for Flores check out the Corpetur link or consider Mesa de los Mayas (no website) if you want a good value budget option.

http://www.tikalinnsunrise.com

http://corpetur.com/

Mesa de Mayas Flores - Alfaro Lopez <mesamayas@hotmail.com>

The El Remate area is in between and there appear to be some nice options there. I enjoyed a quick stay in July 2012 at the Hotel La Mansion Del Pajaro Serpiente.

http://www.30minutesfromtikal.com/

I'm not usually a guided tour sort of a gal but highly recommend archaeologist/naturalist Roxy Ortiz. She guides in the area when she's not away on a dig. She's a wealth of knowledge about the flora and fauna as well as about the history and architecture of the ruins and she's a blast to hang out with. She knows the area inside out - her mom runs the Pajaro Serpiente place and her brothers manage the Tikal Inn.

http://www.tikalroxy.blogspot.com

Here's what Roxy said was the latest on the park fees at Tikal when I was there in July 2012: the 150 quetzales (~$20) entrance fee to Tikal can still be stamped for the next day if purchased after 4pm if you're staying at 1 of the hotels in the park; it used to be 3pm and isn't automatically offered. You can only enter for the sunrise tour (we were at the gate by 4:30am) if you're staying in the park (so folks staying in Flores and likely El Remate, don't let the tour agencies convince you otherwise) and the cost is an additional 100 quetzales (~$12). We were blessed with a rare, bright, sunny sunrise which is rare, though I enjoy the gold brightening misty sort, too.

Happy trails!

California
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4. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

I should also mention that there is at least one collectivo mini-van that runs from Santa Elena back and forth to Tikal many times daily. It's just a mini-van that locals hop of and on from various places along the route, but they welcome tourists (in part because we pay more than the locals but also because our assistant wanted to practice his English). We caught it in Santa Elena, and it left at about 2:45 pm. We went the full length of the ride to Tikal for Q30, but I know it said the fare to El Remate was Q20.

The ride up to Tikal on this collectivo was the most enjoyable ride for us the entire time we were in Guatemala, and I think we took just about every mode of transportation there was. We saw women with children get off and on, goods transported from place to place, etc. It was people going about their normal business. We just got a glimpse into their daily lives. The van was full at times but never crowded, and the stops they made were very quick. When goods were dropped off, the person receiving them was there to meet the van with exact change to quickly hand over.

We were the last ones off, so they took us straight to Jungle Lodge, and we arranged for them to pick us up at the Jungle Lodge the next day for the ride back on their 5 pm return (last run of the day). Our luggage was strapped on top, and both gentleman were very nice as was everyone on the van.

It might be hard to pick them up in El Remate because you have to flag them down, but if you were to pick them up at the very back of the Santa Elena bus terminal (outside from the Linea Dorada office) like we did, you could arrange for pick up the next morning along the way on their first run (and I know they start at 6:30 but don't remember which direction they're going). They don't generally stop at hotels as they did for us, but that's because we rode from end point to end point (although we were dropped in Flores on the way back per our request).

Just mentioning this because we didn't see any mention of this on the forum, and we were looking for options to avoid riding the problem-plagued San Juan shuttles.

Edited: 18 March 2013, 12:03
London
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5. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

Thanks for the advice - some good points and tips here. Think staying in the park is the way to go - maybe at Jungle Inn. Think will go to ruins about 4pm and get ticket for following day and then do sunrise tour the following morning. Will this get the most out of the site?

Duncan - did you have to book in advance or just turn up? Was it 45 dollars in total or pp? Seems a pretty good deal if in total. What does this include? I am guessing that there is a restaurant to eat at at all the hotel places in the park that you can just turn up to and use, right?

California
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6. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

>>>Think will go to ruins about 4pm and get ticket for following day and then do sunrise tour the following morning. Will this get the most out of the site?

For most people, you'll have seen what you want to see in the park in that amount of time. We went to everything except one of the more remote portions of the ruins after talking to others. We still had time to go to temple 6 and the other smaller ruins out that direction. We also had time to sit and watch the wildlife including the spider monkeys, toucans, coatis, oscillated turkeys, and other assorted critters.

>>>Duncan - did you have to book in advance or just turn up?

They want you to reserve ahead of time, and we did because we were warned that sometimes a tour books their rooms. At the time we were there, though, we could have walked in off the street and gotten a place. You just don't know ahead of time, and we wanted to make sure we had a room.

>>>Was it 45 dollars in total or pp? Seems a pretty good deal if in total. What does this include?

It was $45 for two people. It's cheaper for a single. This only includes the room, but it has a nice shared patio area with chairs. We were on the side facing the jungle and got to sit and watch the monkeys and other critters pass by. It was a very peaceful stay, but again the shared rooms were mostly deserted.

>>>I am guessing that there is a restaurant to eat at at all the hotel places in the park that you can just turn up to and use, right?

The Jungle Lodge has a restaurant, and it's quite formal looking. We never saw anyone eating there, but I'm sure some people do. We ate down the way at the first comedor. I think it was Comedor Tikal. Their fajitas were great (and we went back for more the second day). The sandwich left a lot to be desired. I think the fajitas were about Q60 or $8, and we were warned the hotel restaurants are very pricey for what you get.

The first night when we went to the comedor, it was entirely dark with what turned out to be a couple of employees sitting in the dark waiting for customers. As soon as they saw us approach, they turned on a couple of lights over the tables they offered us. Once we ordered and the lights were on, others came in to eat too, and the place had about 20 people by the time we left (and all lights were on). They need to conserve power because they only run on generators, but don't let that dissuade you from going in. They'll turn on the lights for you.

And the Jungle Lodge will also turn their lights off for part of the night -- less than for the other hotels from what I've heard. When we were there, they turned them off at 2 am and back on at 6 am. That's nice if you plan to stay up at all, but it also means the ceiling fan still runs. It's often hot there, so having the ceiling fan makes sleeping better.

And people complained that the internet at some hotels didn't work during the day, but it did at the Jungle Lodge. As we waited for our 5 pm shuttle, we were on the internet in the lobby with no problems. Others were too.

Enjoy!

London
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7. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

Thanks Duncan - very good reply. Just one further question though - did Jungle Lodge organise transport pick-up for you from Flores ? Just want to make sure i avoid San Juan Travel, as have heard nothing but terrible stories about them and really don't want to have to use their shuttles to get to Tikal.

regards

Paul

California
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8. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

No. We never even asked Jungle Lodge for transportation, but we'd been warned that any of the hotels would charge $60-65 for pick up. Yes, Tikal Inn provides pick up once a day in the morning and return once in the afternoon, but we couldn't meet their times.

We were coming from Rio Dulce and didn't know exactly when we'd arrive. Thus, it was hard to schedule any transport. Not pre-scheduling turned out to be a wise decision because our Fuente Del Norte bus was an hour late in picking up in Rio Dulce (by far the worst ride we had in all of Guatemala and can't recommend them at all). Thus, we might have missed anything we'd scheduled.

We arrived at the Santa Elena bus terminal and were greeted by a slew of taxi drivers yelling all kinds of wild stories. It's a bit overwhelming. When we finally mentioned Tikal, we were told nothing from the terminal went to Tikal, but if we paid their fee, they'd take us to a place where we could catch a ride to Tikal. There were other such stories that I didn't necessarily believe. They'll say anything to get a fare. I wanted to wander around and ask questions myself (and my Spanish is mediocre at best, but it got us by).

We were also trying to avoid the San Juan buses, so I took off wandering through the bus terminal looking for options. I saw the Linea Dorada office in the back of the terminal, and the Moon Guide said they make the run to Tikal. When I asked them if they went to Tikal, they pointed me to the collectivos just out their back door. The collectivo actually has an office apparently in the terminal a couple of doors down from Linea Dorada. It wasn't anything I could recognize.

I was told there were also chicken buses that go up to Tikal. We rode them in other parts of Guatemala and really enjoyed them. Maybe we're strange. We didn't find them nearly as scary as others have warned (although I wouldn't ride them in or out of Guatemala City due to the reports of robberies). We found the collectivo first, and he was leaving soon, so we jumped on that option. The price was right for what we had budgeted although I'm sure the chicken buses would have been cheaper. (We paid less than $1.50 for the ride from Pana to Chichi on a chicken bus. The collectivo to Tikal was $4 per person, but that was fine by us.)

I found it really difficult to plan for the leg from Flores/Santa Elena to Tikal before leaving the US just because there isn't much information, and our arrival time was so uncertain. We couldn't have really even planned for a San Juan bus had we been so inclined. We had to play it by ear and hope we found something. I figured the worst case was a taxi ride for about $50 or whatever we could negotiate.

What time of day are you arriving in Flores/Santa Elena if I may ask?

London
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9. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

I think we should be in Flores around 6am - we are getting the overnight bus from GC. Maybe we'll just relax in Flores for a few hours and then get a shuttle or collectivo over to Tikal in the afternoon, ready to go to the site around 4pm. Is Flores/Santa Elena one station, or are they separate ?

P

California
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10. Re: Stay in El Remate or Tikal

Flores and Santa Elena are the same bus terminal. I assume the overnight buses stop at the main terminal, so I'd recommend going to the back of the terminal and talking to the folks at the collectivo office to verify the schedule for the day. It's a few doors down from Linea Dorada. The only challenge is that they might not be open at that time. You might have to check back.

We left on what they called the 3 pm collectivo, but it left the terminal at 2:45 and then went to a big market area to pick up more passengers at 3 pm. Thus, I'd get there a bit early. And it sounds like you'll probably want the one at the same time that we took.

You'll have quite a while to look around in Flores, and hopefully there's a place to leave your luggage at the terminal. Flores isn't that big, but it's a nice little area. We walked around the perimeter, and it's an easy and pleasant walk along the water.

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