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Antigua to Tikal… I knew if I went to Guatemala, that I could not leave the country without going to Tikal. It was non-negotiable.
The planning began. Antigua and Tikal are not close together. It took a bit of research to figure out how to get from Antigua to Tikal.
Getting from Antigua to Tikal was involves an overnight bus or a flight. Flights were pricey. The long journey from Antigua to Tikal was going to be enjoyed/ endured on a bus. Overnight bus – you win.
It was also going to involve getting to Santa Elena/Flores, Guatemala and then figuring out from there how to get to Tikal.
Most people I met in Antigua Guatemala were going on an organized tour for a few days to Tikal and then returning to Antigua. Out of all the wonderful people I had met, none were travelling from Antigua to Tikal independently like me.
How to Get from Antigua to Tikal
I booked my overnight bus ticket with a travel agency in Antigua Guatemala. There are many agencies to choose from in Antigua. Shop around a little to compare prices.
Included in the price was:
- a shuttle ride from Antigua to Guatemala City
- a first-class ticket on the Linea Dorada bus line leaving Guatemala City at 10 pm.
- the first-class ticket as this route has fewer stops along the way and the bus was supposed to be more comfortable. It was in fact quite a comfortable seat.
Total ticket including the drive to Guatemala City: 360 GTQ ($60.00 Canadian)
Drive from Antigua to Guatemala City bus station: 140 GTQ ($23.00 Canadian)
Bus ticket from Guatemala City to Santa Elena/Flores: 220 GTQ ($37.00 Canadian)
I believe it would have been cheaper to book it directly with Linea Dorada or at the bus station in Guatemala City. Next time.
Bus Companies that operate from Antigua to Flores (and vice versa):
FDN: Fuente del Norte
ADN: Autobuses del Norte
Getting to Guatemala City from Antigua
As I was the only person heading to the bus station in Guatemala City, I got a ride in a car (like a private taxi). It takes about 40-60 minutes to get to Guatemala City from Antigua, depending on the traffic.
I have to admit, I haven’t heard the greatest things about Guatemala City and was a little nervous getting dropped off at the station. My fledging Spanish came in handy when I asked the driver if the station was “seguro” (safe) and admitted to him that I was a bit “nerviosa” (nervous). He got out of the car, talked to the security guard to be sure it was the correct station and walked me to the door, all the time telling me it was very “seguro.”
I arrived at 7:30 pm, got my voucher exchanged for a ticket and settled in for the two and a half hour wait. It was evidently a busy, bustling station. There were a few other fellow travellers. A bus official came and got my bag around 8:30 pm, tagged it and put it on the bus. When it came to loading time, there was a bag check and body scan before entering the bus.
Overnight Bus from Antigua to Flores
And so the long part of the journey from Antigua to Tikal began.
I settled into seat #6 beside a Guatemalan man and starting bundling up. I really didn’t have enough warm clothes for Guatemala in February. Those compression socks that I had been carrying around? I put them on (yes, right on the squashy bus) for warmth. Next, came the beautiful scarf I had bought for my sister. It got wrapped all around me. Finally, the cute little striped hat that was for my 3-year-old niece. Very thankful I have a tiny head, it was soon keeping some heat in.
I knew it would be cold on the overnight bus from Antigua to Tikal. But, it was absolutely freezing.
Between eating a few snacks and sleeping, the bus trip flew by.
Don’t be surprised if you have to exit the bus at Petén, the most northern department of Guatemala. All of our carry on bags were checked to see that no fruit was being brought in from other parts of the country.
At Santa Elena, a man hopped on the bus and called for everyone going to Flores to get off the bus. Sleepily I hopped up, got my backpack and jumped onto a rickshaw that goes across the causeway to Flores.
I was in Flores by 7 am.
Easy. Would do it again in a heartbeat.
Flores to Tikal:
Santa Elena and Flores are twin cities. Flores, situated on a beautiful island in Lago Petén Itzá, is connected to its twin city by a 500-metre causeway. It is located 65 km from the UNESCO site of Tikal.
There are many ways to get to Tikal and you will have to decide if you want to do a sunrise tour, a day tour or a sunset tour. There are some lodges closer to the site that make it easier for the early morning and evening tours.
I stayed at Zapote Tree Inn.
The owner picked me up in Flores and then arranged a tour for me the following day to Tikal. After taking the bus all night, you are in Flores in plenty of time to get to Tikal for the day. Alternately, explore Flores on your first day and arrive at Tikal energized the next day!
Check out other places to stay in and around Flores:
If you are interested in a guided tour once you get to Flores, here are some to choose from: