Getting to Uaxactún
The bus to Uaxactún arrives in Tikal at 4PM after leaving Santa Elena two hours earlier. In the far back and left of the bus station, where it used to list all the buses to Tikal, the unmanned kiosk shows this one departure. This is a change, in that there are used to be many to Tikal and one at 1 PM past it, but tour interests got Tikal buses moved to the old Market the Uaxactún one changed to 2 PM, so that to there was no longer any time to see even one of the two portions of those ruins before dark. However, with a full day, you could see both of them.
If you were in the bus station at that kiosk, you would notice another one to your right advertising "buses" to Tikal, which will turn out to be standard monopolistic shuttles.
Anyway, taking the bus from the Santa Elena station past Tikal would make no sense at all, because you would still pay the Tikal entry fee, but would be skipping it to get to the town past the ruins.
A far better plan would be to catch it after your full day at Tikal and then go to Uaxactún. You would catch it at the from the gate where everyone walks into the ruins. The gate raises up to let Uaxactún traffic pass. Be there around 4 PM and expect to spend two nights in Uaxactún, returning on the family owned bus that leaves between 6 and 6:30 AM. You would leave your
pack at the Visitors' Center for 1 Quetzal an hour, then taking the 4 PM bus to Uaxactún and spending the night there. The odds of all rooms there being booked would be slim to none. People would head back to Tikal early and get a good view of jungle along the way. When ready to return to Flores, they could hop one of the shuttles or buses back.
I enjoyed what was then a bumpy 10 Quetzal jungle chicken bus ride along the ancient causeway between Uaxactún and Tikal, but the road is gravel now. However, by the time it rolls into Tikal on its way north, it is most likely to be standing room only.
By staying at Campamento El Chiclero,
we also got to see the
small but impressive ceramics museum right where we were.
There is also at least one other place to stay in town, which is called Aldana's,
which also has camping. A small group of Europeans came in on the same bus
as we did and stayed there. We bumped into them at the site and their only
comment on it was that they would need to eat at the comedor. I also saw
something that suggested another place to stay on the southern edge of town, but
it seemed a bit far from everything for being useful, except in an emergency.
Though my view was quite limited on the way up, the next morning, I got an excellent one of jungle before Tikal, much of it in Tikal Park and the rest is virtually undeveloped. We took the bus back the whole way to Santa Elena, though obviously after going past the park, there is a lot of evidence of settlement.