The Plants and Wildlife at Tikal National Park

Our time at Tikal was limited.  We spent around 6 hours in the park admiring the grand ruins.  

Had we given more time to our visit I would have spent my extra hours exploring the plants in this dense jungle.  I love to garden.  It would have been a treat to study tropical plants that differ greatly from what grows in my zone 7 backyard. 

I would also arrive before sunrise to see and hear more of the animals that live in the canopies. 

Despite our tight schedule my family and I did observe some notable creatures.  Here are the plants and animals that we spotted:

 A spider monkey climbing a tree.  Image from the Audubon Nature Institute.

A spider monkey climbing a tree.  Image from the Audubon Nature Institute.

Spider Monkeys:  We saw one of these little guys swinging around in a tree near Temple IV.  He was fast and intent on going somewhere until he became distracted by the branches of a particularly tall tree.

 Coatamundi sniff the ground at Tikal National Park.  Photo by Chic Travels.

Coatamundi sniff the ground at Tikal National Park.  Photo by Chic Travels.

Coatimundi:  Several of these racoon-like mammals were walking around the area near the Plaza Mayor.  They seemed impervious to the flock of visitors standing around admiring them.  They were docile and intent on sniffing.  They let me take several photos.

 Carpenter Bird.  Image from the Audubon Society.

Carpenter Bird.  Image from the Audubon Society.

Carpenter Bird:  My husband spotted a woodpecker like this one pecking away at a tree.  Perhaps the bird located some delicious tree beetles and was enjoying them for lunch.

 Green parrots in Tikal.  Image taken from Flickr.

Green parrots in Tikal.  Image taken from Flickr.

Green Parrots:  The green on these guys blends beautifully with their surroundings.

 Image taken from Google.

Image taken from Google.

Butterflies: Morpho Peledes Montezuma. I didn’t see this gorgeous butterfly, but my daughter did and explained the wings beautifully.

 All Spice plant.  Image from tradewindfruits.com

All Spice plant.  Image from tradewindfruits.com

All Spice - I never realized that All Spice is a tropical bush.  The berries and/or leaves were used by the ancient Mayans to scent honey.  Today Americans often use All Spice in traditional Christmas desserts.  Just crushing the leaves sends a delicious scent into the air.

 Vines in the jungle of Tikal.  Image taken from TripAdvisor, Tikal.

Vines in the jungle of Tikal.  Image taken from TripAdvisor, Tikal.

Water vines - Our guide, Juan, stopped briefly to explain a water vine.  This vine contains drinkable water.  It can be used in survival situations to quench thirst.  Of utmost importance is the way the vine is cut.  First chop a section at the top, then quickly chop the base of the vine.  Be careful to hold the ends up until you are ready to pour the sweet water into your mouth or cantine. 

 This giant Ceiba Tree greets visitors at the beginning of the trail that leads to the ruins.  Photo by Chic Travels.

This giant Ceiba Tree greets visitors at the beginning of the trail that leads to the ruins.  Photo by Chic Travels.

Ceiba Tree - The Ceiba Tree is the national tree of Guatemala.  It was the sacred world tree, the axis of the world, in Classic Mayan cosmology.  Most civilizations in MesoAmerica include this tree in their art.  To learn more, click here.  

Have you visited Tikal?  What plants and animals did you observe?