>Wanting to save a few hundred bucks while trekking without someone else telling you what to do? This is how to do it:
Line up supplies for the trip:
Water is needed but the camps have it. El Tintal and El Mirador workers can sell or trade water with you.
Food for 4-5 days. Bowl. Pan. Spoon. Knife. Etc.
Tent/hammock. Gets hot and humid in dry season, hammock with mosquito net would be great.
Sandals for when you’re done hiking.
Tang or something to dilute taste of unknown water.
Water purifying agents.
Dry/extra clothes. Something to keep them dry as well.
Resealable bags. Ants are everywhere.
Blanket. Hot during the day. Cold in the middle of the night.
Good shoes. Duct tape/band aids for blisters.
Something for chaffing.
After your supplies is gathered, lock your unneeded travel gear in a locker in Flores and give a note about emergency contacts to someone working at a hostel. Then, go to the Santa Elena bus terminal and ask for buses to Carmelito. Suggest going a day ahead to get an idea of what you’re dealing with. They usually leave at 5am and 1:30/2p.m. daily. But remember, this is Guatemala, nothings certain!
The trail is less than 200 meters from the soccer pitch in Carmelita, back down the road you came on. Ask a local for which one goes to El Tintal. You’ll see a sign in less than 1 kilometer that will say El Mirador. See blog: Hiking El Mirador for photo. From here you can’t get lost. The paths veer off but meet up again. We followed the jeep tracks all the way to the old gum camp, walked straight through and made it no problem to El Tintal.
Should take between 4-5.5 hours to get to El Tintal. Depending on your bag weight/break times. Its roughly 25 kilometers there.
From El Tintal to El Mirador its a 6-8 hr hike. In total from Carmelita to El Mirador it’s 63 kilometers.
The trail is easily visible. The first leg to El Tintal is a jeep path. From El Tintal to El Mirador, there’s only one way to go!
The reason people think they need tour groups is because the locals make it seem super dangerous, jaguars, mud, trails, etc. But we met others doing the same, as we hiked it alone. Also, many of the people we met up with that were in tour groups were very angry after it rained because all of their stuff was soaked and they paid for ‘good equipment.’ We asked a guide once what a name of a temple was and he replied ‘pyramid,’ so the guides aren’t archeologists that can answer questions, if that’s what you’re looking for. The tours are there so you can go with people you might not know, so you can have a mule carry your stuff and so you can ride a tick-infested mule when your feet hurt.
Try it without a guide, they Mayan’s did. I’m not accountable for anything that happens out there, it’s the jungle, but it’s do-able if you’re prepared.
P.S When you see the El Mirador sign that marks the entrance to the site, you’ll see temples behind. Go in them. They’re awesome! Enjoy.