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Flores to Tikal

Last Updated on June 15, 2021 by Chef

Tikal National Park is quite possible the most famous place in Guatemala and the majority of people depart from Flores to Tikal. The ancient Mayan city is the biggest and most impressive in Central America, spanning over 100 square km of sub tropical rain-forest  The island town of Flores is where  most  people base themselves for their Tikal trip. Getting from Flores to Tikal requires a 70 km drive around the east of Lake Peten Itza, then north to Tikal National Park, a 90 minute journey.

Getting from Flores to Tikal
Climbing pyramids at Tikal was great fun for everyone.

Flores to Tikal

There are more travel agents than restaurants in Flores, it would seem, all selling Tikal shuttle services. Shuttles run from 3.30 am to 1.30 pm and you can opt for a guided or unguided tour in English or Spanish.

The other option is a private car and driver which would work out more expensive but more comfortable. It depends on your group size and comfort levels.

I didn’t find any usable public buses from Flores to Tikal but I imagine there are. It would be a lot of hassle and quite possibly wouldn’t save you much in the long run.

Flores to Tikal by Shuttle Bus

There are numerous shuttle buses that run all day but most will focus on getting there for sunrise and park opening or to see sunset and leaving as the park closes.

The two most popular shuttles in the morning are the 3.30 am mini bus shuttle which gets you there in the dark to catch the sunrise or the 4 am shuttle. This was the one we took and had us at  Tikal National Park for 6 am, the official opening time.

Entrance to the park is Q150 ($20 USD) collected at the gate of the park. If you arrive before 6 am there is an extra Q100 fee to get in early.

Children under 12 years old are free to enter the park.

Afternoon tours leave at 1:30 pm although I did notice some leaving at 12:30 pm. 1-2 hours in  a cramped mini bus in the middle of the hot day doesn’t sound like my idea of nice though. Still either bus gets you there and both stay for sunset so its really up to how much you want to spend in the park.

The park closes at 5 pm so last buses leave at 5:30 pm back to Flores.

As with most things in Central America the cost of the buses and tours is flexible depending on your bargaining skills. Shop around, walk away if you have to, see if the price drops.

Not all tours are equal, there are some hefty complaints making the rounds on travel websites about rip-offs.

We paid Q100 ($13.50) per adult for bus and tour guide. Our 9 year-old paid full fare, our 7 year-old was free.

Our Tikal Tour Experience

Getting to Tikal from Flores. Tikal National Park, Guatemala
Look a bit Star Wars-y to you. From the top of the largest, 70m pyramid.

We had a great day at Tikal, everything went to plan and our guide was excellent. Our bus was waiting for us outside our hotel at 4.30 am. It was the usual tourist mini bus with no leg room for people over 5 foot but we all had a seat. The journey was hassle free but the road was extremely pot holed in places. Speed bumps were everywhere, including on the highways.

The bus dropped us inside the park at a little cafe to grab some coffee before the tour started.

Our guide was brilliant, he knew his stuff and spoke faultless English. He covered all of the main areas with us and explained each one in detail. He taught our two children how to call to the forest animals and answered every question. He left us at 10.30 am, giving us free time to explore further.

The group was due to return to Flores at 12:30 pm from the cafe. We arrived early for a quick breakfast. The sunrise bus was about to leave, they had spare seats so we didn’t have to wait. There is flexibility with return times, just talk to your guide or driver.

Transport and tours to Tikal from Flores are frequent and easy to arrange but you can arrange and pay for a reputable tour in advance if your time is limited. I recommend GuateGO which can arrange travel to Tikal.

With GuateGO you can book your transportation to secure your places not just  from Flores to Tikal, but also to the main places in Belize (Caye Caulker, Caye Ambergris or San Pedro, San Ignacio, Palencia) and to connect practically every destination in Guatemala (Flores, Lanquin, Antigua, Atitlan). Even between countries or airport transfers.

You can choose what kind of transport you want to use (shuttle, coach, water taxi, luxury bus, private transport or plane) they have all the main transport options on the web site. Use this link to find to the best deals for your trip.

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Jack

Friday 18th of January 2019

Interested in an update on safety concerns traveling to Tikal. Will travel to Belize first. Do we fly to Flores or take a shuttle to Tikal from San Ignacio. We are not interested in taking any security risks.

Chef

Friday 18th of January 2019

Hello Jack,

Security wise it would be fine to take the bus to Tikal. The only issues are with some not so honest tour operators like you'd find anywhere that may try it on and sell a great tour for minimal cost. Only later would you find out it isn't what you've paid for. Flying to Flores seems an overly complicated way of doing things as you'd still need to catch a shuttle back to Tikal. There aren't direct buses as you'd need to change at the Belize border if you go by bus. IF you are traveling further south into Guatemala then going to Flores would be the best place to base yourself. It really depends on your preference and budget which way you go but there isn't a security risk. Hope this helps.

Cheers Chef

Susan

Thursday 13th of December 2018

My family will be visiting Tikal over Christmas. I am interested in booking an English speaking tour. Do you have a link to the tour you used?

Chef

Thursday 13th of December 2018

Hi Susan,

I don't anymore unfortunately but many of the guides and tours will speak English. I wouldn't worry as I'm sure when you're there on the ground you'll find a great tour.

Cheers Chef

Jill

Saturday 1st of December 2018

Can you provide an update on those early morning shuttles? My friends and I are looking to get to Tikal from Flores early in the morning.

Chef

Thursday 6th of December 2018

Hi Jill, Thanks for writing. If you follow the links in the post they will take you to the page so you can organise the time that suits without worry. Hope this helps Cheers James

Monica R

Saturday 27th of October 2018

Hello. Did you use an agency in advance to book the mini shuttle and tour (which one)? Or you just chose one upon arrival to Flores?

Chef

Monday 29th of October 2018

Hi Monica we used one when we arrived in Flores. I'll be updating the post very soon as there are lots more options now compared to a few years ago. Stay tuned and thanks for reading. Chef

laughing Planet

Monday 16th of October 2017

Our new Photography Travel trips is yet to go to Tikal so this is our Beta Test Trip! We will stay at one of the lodges in the park- not sure which yet. We began as a way to go together with others with cameras to really cool places and help others along the way. Good luck with your cooking! I'm sure it is delightful

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