"Ceiba Trees" Top 5 Page for this destination Parque Nacional Tikal Local Custom Tip by Bwana_Brown

Parque Nacional Tikal Local Customs: 4 reviews and 7 photos

  Ceiba Tree Trunk at Park Entrance
by Bwana_Brown
  • Ceiba Tree Trunk at Park Entrance - Parque Nacional Tikal
      Ceiba Tree Trunk at Park Entrance
    by Bwana_Brown
  • Look way up at the Ceiba Tree Crown - Parque Nacional Tikal
      Look way up at the Ceiba Tree Crown
    by Bwana_Brown
  • A Ceiba Tree Protrudes from the Jungle - Parque Nacional Tikal
      A Ceiba Tree Protrudes from the Jungle
    by Bwana_Brown

Ceiba Trees (pronounced 'SAY-ba') are the national tree of Guatemala and were also revered by Mayans as the 'God of the Heavens' because they believed that these huge trees held up the sky. Indeed, I was impressed whenever I saw them in both Guatemala and Belize, and this specimen alongside the path into Tikal National Park was no exception.

With their huge grey trunks of up to 200 ft (70 m) height, and sometimes reaching a diameter of 9 ft (3-m), soaring straight for the heavens without interruption by branches until reaching their spreading crown, these trees cannot be ignored! Of course, if you stick your head into the winds above the jungle canopy, it always helps to have massive buttress roots above the ground level (the same design is used in ancient cathedrals) to keep things propped up!

And just what is that crown doing way up there in the sky? It turns out that the seed pods contain kapok, that marvellous substance that repels water and was used as the filling in life-jackets. In addition, the vast canopy is home to tropical plants like bromeliads which provide a home for frogs. Mammals use the branches as aerial highways and the world's largest eagle, the Harpy, also nests up there where it can easily spot monkeys to prey on. Of course, the tree trunk is so straight that it also makes for excellent canoes. However, I think the reverence for these trees is so great, that they are often left alone - we saw many of them standing solitary in fields while travelling Belize. I continued to be impressed every time, especially when you see them without surrounding distractions! This one was so pinned in by the jungle that no 'distant' shot was possible.

The second photo is a view looking up the trunk to the canopy while the third photo is of a different tree, seen protruding above the jungle while we were atop the Mundo Perdido (Lost World) pyramid in Tikal (with Temple IV, the tallest of them all, in the background).

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jan 29, 2008
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