Bus Travel

Linea Dorada and Autobuses Fuente del Norte offer daily direct bus service between the Marine terminal in Belize City and Santa Elena-Flores. The five-hour trip on air-conditioned buses with comfortable reclining seats, TVs, and bathrooms costs around US$25 one-way. Call at least one day ahead for reservations. Inexpensive local service is available, but those buses stop in every village along the way, which adds hours to the trip. The same lines also offer service between Guatemala City and Santa Elena-Flores.

In Santa Elena, the main local bus terminal is a bustling center where your questions can be easily answered. (To and from the bus station, a tuk-tuk should be a mere Q5.) Here you can catch a scheduled minibus shuttle, operated by San Juan Travel and other companies, that makes the 42-mile (70-km) trip on a good paved road to Tikal several times in the morning and return trips in the evening. Service is usually reduced during slow periods. They cost around Q50 one way per person and take 1½ hours or more, depending on stops.

From the town bordering Belize, Melchor de Mencos, there are frequent chicken buses, often packed, which cost about Q30 (around $4). They'll take you to Santa Elena-Flores but not to Tikal. To get to Tikal from the Belize border, you have to get off at El Cruce (the Crossroads), and wait for another bus en route to Tikal. The frequency of buses depends on the time of year and is not wholly reliable, but roughly every two hours until the early afternoon.

Contacts

Autobuses Fuente del Norte. These buses can be booked online through Mundo Maya Travels,which has an office at Brown Sugar Market Place in Belize City. E Bus Terminal, 4a Calle, Santa Elena, 502/7947–7070; 501/223–1200; www.travelmundomaya.com.

Linea Dorada. Mercado Nuevo Interior , Zona 2, Santa Elena, Petén. 502/7924–8434; 502/7924–8535; www.lineadorada.com.gt.

San Juan Travel. San Juan Travel, a travel agency, tour operator, and shuttle service, has long had a mixed reputation, especially for service. They offer daily shuttles between Flores and Tikal park; if you need an option on the spot (not booked ahead), they can usually accommodate you. E Bus Terminal, 4a Calle, Santa Elena, Petén.

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