Flores and the nearby Maya ruins of Tikal is maybe the most famous place in Guatemala. Words from other travelers told us that this was going to be one of the highlights of our trip in Central America.
Getting from Orange Walk Town in Belize to Flores in Guatemala proved to be fairly easy, but far from comfortable. First an overloaded local bus almost to the border, then a very short taxi ride. After standing in a fairly long line, we had to pay a silly departure tax of 37 Belize dollars just to get out of this country. This is way too expensive.
The immigration to Guatemala was very fast and we only had to pay a small arrival tax (20 Quetzal). There seemed to be no buses onward to Flores though, because of holy week. But together with a an English couple and a German guy, we found a share-van going straight to Flores. It was only 40 Q for the two hours ride, but the van filled up quickly with locals. In the end we must have been more than 20 persons inside the Toyota Hiace. Extremely cramped, especially for Tommaso who had a couple of local kids on his lap.
It was a blessing to arrive Flores. This is a lovely town situated on a small island in the lake. While our 3 other backpacker friends decided to stay in the dormitory, Tommaso and myself decided on a twinbed room with aircon and balcony. The total damage was 180 Q (90 Q each per night). Certainly more costly than the dorm, but much better value. Later we found out that the aircon was not working properly. Without aircon, the temperature was hoovering around 30 Celsius inside the room during the night. With aircon on max power, the room temperature only went down a meager 2 degree. Impossible to sleep well in that heat.
The first evening in Flores we had dinner with the 3 other backpackers and a girl from Holland who also joined us. We found a public place to sit down, where we could eat cheap street food and buy beer from the local 7Eleven. While the others planned to visit the Maya ruins of Tikal next morning, we decided to take a "rest day" because of a very hectic travel schedule the last couple of weeks.
While I was catching up on work/admin on my computer, Tommaso went for a short cave visit nearby. We also booked a tour for Tikal. None of us wanted to waste a lot of extra money to do the sunrise trip. So we just went for the ordinary tour in the morning. Tikal is really outstanding and much more impressive than the other Maya ruins I've seen to date. I will never forget the steepness of these pyramids, the highest reaching almost 70 meters into the sky. Temple IV was once the tallest building in pre-Colombian America. I would say that Tikal is almost in the same league as Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu.
Our only pain in Flores/Tikal was the heat. So we are indeed looking forward to the highlands of Guatemala. But it will be a torturous journey of 15 hours to reach Xela.