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Transportation from Flores to Tikal

Sault Ste. Marie...
Level Contributor
17 posts
7 reviews
Transportation from Flores to Tikal

Hello, myself and 2 others will be visiting Tikal in a couple weeks. We will be stay in Flores the night before and after. How do we get from Flores to Tikal? How much and how long is travel time? We would like to be there as early as possible. Do we buy Tikal entrance tickets at the gate or do we need to buy them ahead of time?

Once the park closes (i believe at 6pm?) we will be heading back to Flores. Do we go about this the same way as getting there?

Any information would be great! thanks so much

23 replies to this topic
Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
7,809 posts
20 reviews
1. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

First of all I highly recommend staying overnight at the park. I like being in the park late in the day when a lot of tourists have left. I like being there in the evenings and especially waking up to the sounds of the jungle. Sleeping in the park can be cheap (hammock, tent). There are also 3 hotels (cheapest rooms that I know of are at the Jungle Lodge: $40 for a double).

To get to Tikal you can book a shuttle from Flores (I think it will be hard to find a shuttle back after 3 pm). Or you can take public transport: take a tuk tuk to the bus station in Santa Elena. Public minibuses (and there is one large bus as well which goes on to Uaxactun, I think that one leaves Santa Elena at 2 pm) charged Q25 to Tikal in 2014 (they might try to ask for Q30-40). It is a fun ride with the locals but takes longer than a tourist shuttle as the minibus/bus stops to pick up people and supplies. The one we used to take left Santa Elena around 8 am.

If you are not staying at the park after all you can book a tour in Flores. Most tours leave Flores around 7:30-8 am and return at 3 pm. If you want to be there early like you say you would have to book a sunrise tour (some leave as early as 3 am and return around noon). Most leave at 4:30 am and you will be in Tikal around 6 am. You would return around noon or early afternoon.

If you go on a tour entrance tickets should be included (make sure you ask for an official entrance ticket). If you are taking public transport: the bus will stop at the entrance so you can get out to buy tickets. I believe if you enter after 3:30 pm tickets are valid for that day and the next day (that has been the case on and off in the last years). If you enter earlier and want to enter again the next day for a sunrise tour or just at 6 am when the park opens you would have to pay twice.

Springfield...
Level Contributor
437 posts
40 reviews
2. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

Be sure to read the other messages on this forum about agencies to avoid--El Gran Jaguar and San Juan.

Sault Ste. Marie...
Level Contributor
17 posts
7 reviews
3. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

thanks everyone! We would prefer to get there on our own and explore, rather than taking tour (we may decide to hire a tour guide once we are there for an hour or so). If we took a local bus, how long does that take and from where do we catch it? Ive read they run every half hr? Shuttles would be nice too, and they may still be an option, but we might want to stay longer than noonish in the park. If we were to take a bus back to Flores after we are done at the park, what types of transportation is available? local bus back? Are the shuttle buses the ones ran by El Gran Jaguar and San Juan? or are there others at the park waiting to fill up and leave back to Flores?

Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
7,809 posts
20 reviews
4. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

You can read this to start with:

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g562625…

San Juan has quite a monopoly in that area. Most of the shuttles are operated by them. That doesn't mean bad things will happen as many shuttles go to Tikal daily and more often than not nothing happens. Just be aware of what it should cost (I think $15 per person). If they say entrance to Tikal is included make sure they give you entrance tickets. If they say the ride back is included ask for a receipt that states that. When we asked our hotel in Flores about the public bus they went so far as to tell us there was no public bus and we should take the San Juan shuttle!

You can still visit the park on your own if you go to Tikal by shuttle. You can just book a shuttle to get there without being on a tour. If you do want a guide once you are there one hour would not be enough... it is a big park. Sunrise tours are good if you want to be there early (you can book them in Flores). Or like I said before: I highly recommend staying overnight at the park. You can sign up for a sunrise tour at the park (4 to 8 am, guide mandatory). Or you can enter the park on your own when it opens at 6 am.

As for public transport. What more can I tell you? Like I said, the public buses leave from the bus terminal in Santa Elena, a short tuk tuk ride from Flores. Shuttles probably take close to 2 hours. The public bus takes longer (might be 3 hours) as it stops to pick up people and supplies. I am not sure how often public buses go but I would say quite often. There are different companies. We always went with the same one as we knew what time they were leaving and we knew what they charged. Again, in 2014 it was Q25-30. But sometimes they try to get more.

To get back you can take a public minibus or a shuttle. If you take a public bus to get there ask them when they will be returning. I think it will be harder to find a ride back after 3 pm. Again, staying overnight in Tikal might be the answer.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
145 posts
1,105 reviews
5. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

Can we take a tourist shuttle at the bus station in Santa Elena? We plan on taking an overnight bus from GC to Flores so we will be right there at the station. Also do you know if we can make a reservation or buy bus tickets from GC to Flores online?

Thanks in advance,

Ron

Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
7,809 posts
20 reviews
6. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

From the Santa Elena bus station you can only take public (mini)buses to Flores as far as I know. You just hop on as I explained above. We arrived on the overnight bus too, had breakfast at the market (across the street from the bus station) and then took a minibus to Tikal around 8 am.

Also, be aware the overnight bus sometimes stops near Flores and tourists are told to get off and get on a shuttle to Flores. You don't have to do that. You can stay on the bus and you will end up at the Santa Elena bus station. If you do get on the shuttle they will bring you to Flores but don't buy anything from them. They will try to bring you to certain hotels and sell you overpriced tickets so just say no to everything.

I don't think you can buy tickets online for GC to Flores. We went with Fuente del Norte. We have always gone to the bus terminal an hour or so in advance and never had a problem. You could go to the bus station earlier in the day (if you arrive in GC early) to buy tickets.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
145 posts
1,105 reviews
7. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

Sonia, thank you for your reply and great info. Could there be a problem with "sleeping" seats? I think they call them "luxury."

Paris, Canada
Level Contributor
7,809 posts
20 reviews
8. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

We haven't had a problem. As far as I know there are three bus companies with overnight buses: FDN: Fuente del Norte (with a few deluxe buses called Maya de Oro), ADN: Autobuses del Norte and Linea Dorada. We only traveled with Fuente del Norte (Maya de Oro) so I can't compare. Downstairs there are only 9 large/wide seats. How comfortable it is depends on the bus (some buses have leather seats and we kept sliding off them) and the people (some people talk all night) and whether they play a movie or not (we wanted to sleep). Also, if you are tall it is best to have one of the three front seats as in the other seats it is hard to get comfortable (or even fit) if the person in front of you reclines all the way. If there would be no more seats available downstairs just take a seat upstairs. My husband slept upstairs one time and liked it. The seats upstairs recline too and are comfortable but not wide. He said he was more comfortable upstairs than downstairs. The bathroom was ok at first but not so much by morning (there was no water). Take a fleece or blanket (AC). In March 2014 these buses still left from 17 Calle. Cost: Q220 for the luxury seats downstairs.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
145 posts
1,105 reviews
9. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

Thank you Sonia

Anaheim
Level Contributor
1 post
6 reviews
10. Re: Transportation from Flores to Tikal

I'm heading to Tikal in the morning and would love to stay overnight in the park in a hammock, can I arrange that once I'm there? Or does it need to be scheduled in advance? Also how late do the sunrise tours run? I'm short on time and got delayed by a day so I want to be out before noon the next day.

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