The Temple 4 Experience
At Tikal, Scenic Views &
a Star Wars Connection
The Tikal model presents Temple 4 with a normal Mayan
stairway, as constructed in around 741. I would have loved
using that stairway to climb the tallest building at Tikal, also
taller than any other pre-European structure in North or
South America. No such luck and no stairway in 1995.
Instead, the struggle upwards to Temple 4 involved dragging
myself over a steep non-trail obstacle course that included
ladders at odd angles, combined with the need to grab
ropes, rails, or tree roots in order to reach the ladder shown
here, where one climber is emerging. I made it that far too.
Although I could hardly walk the next day thanks to aching
muscles, reaching this high platform was worth the pain.
From atop Temple 4, Tikal's signature images emerge,
such as the two temples facing each other from the
previous page. Only their crowns are visible above
the jungle canopy which swallows everything else.
This wider shot adds Temple 3, also rising above the vast
jungle. Does it look familiar, even if you have never
been to Tikal? You are looking at the location
of the secret rebel base from the original Star Wars
(Episode 4), which could only be taken from Temple 4.
The scenic vista appears about three times in Star Wars,
for only a few seconds, but it's Tikal for certain.
Temple 3, unrestored in 1995, was mostly covered by the
relentless jungle in the thousand years or so since the Maya
abandoned Tikal. At other sites there would be more Mayan
pyramids concealed within jungle green.
After making it down from Temple 4, I was far too exhausted
for additional exploration of Tikal. Instead I filmed a
marimba band which played at a party for Tikal's Maya
employees. Marimba is modern Maya music, and that band
both sounds and looks great in my video.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the
Intrepid Berkeley Explorer's free video of this trip to Central
America and Mexico by clicking on: