Guatemala in Photos: Exploring Guatemala's Mayan Ruins of Tikal and Yaxhá

When I was asked several months ago by Expedia to travel with them for my first trip to Guatemala, I was thrilled. My excitement was in part because I’d be visiting the Central American country I wanted to visit the most, but also because it’d be my first time exploring Maya culture.

If you’re not familiar with the Maya, they were an indigenous civilization in current-day Mexico and Central America (and especially Guatemala), renowned for their sophistication and how advanced they were in the way of writing, agriculture and architecture, among other things. Centuries ago, many of the great Maya cities were inhabited by as many people as you’ll find in some metro areas today. However, the abandonment of these great cities, and the collapse of the civilization, is a mystery.

As such, I was excited to discover firsthand one of the world’s most famous indigenous civilizations, especially considering my love for travel and other cultures, and since I grew up with a father who was a history teacher. The headliner of my trip was visiting Tikal National Park, which is one of the largest archaeological sites of the Maya, and Guatemala’s oldest national park. Now having visited for myself, I feel pretty firm in my belief that I don’t think you can travel to Guatemala without visiting Tikal. Tikal is altogether historic, beautiful and endlessly fascinating, and in no way your everyday historic site.


Of all the historic destinations I’ve visited, I don’t know if I’ve ever visited one that left me feeling so small as a traveler and human. What’s more, Tikal is only 20% excavated, which is the case with many Maya sites like this, where most of it is unexcavated, and will remain so. Nearby Yaxhá, which I also recommend visiting (especially at sunset), is even less developed.

So while I previously shared tips for visiting Tikal National Park, I wanted to share more of my photos from visiting Tikal and Yaxhá. Below, see a few of my favorite photos from Tikal National Park and Yaxhá. (Only the last two photos are from Yaxhá, since it’s far less developed.)