Ancient Lands Of The Maya

Traditional weaver Lake Atitlan
On the Rio Dulce
Tikal temples
Antigua Guatemala
Day of the Dead Kite Festival
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Guatemala is one of the only remaining places where the living Maya culture can be truly experienced. This trip contrasts old and new, visiting modern indigenous communities thriving in the highlands around Lake Atitlan, as well as the early Maya cities of Tikal, Quirigua and Copan (Honduras). Hitting the highlights as well as getting far off the beaten path, this trip encompasses the beauty and colour of ancient Central America. Lake Atitlan - Take a boat trip on this stunning lake, encircled by volcanoes, and visit the neighbouring Maya villages Maya sites - Discover the atmospheric site of Tikal, its spires poking out of deep jungle, and the peaceful site of Copan Chichicastenango Market - Throw yourself into the bustle and colour of this busy market, and see the modern Maya culture come to life Festivals - Witness the Holy Week celebrations in Antigua, or the giant kite festival celebrated as part of the Day of the Dead festivities in Sumpango

Highlights
  • Lake Atitlan - Take a boat trip on this stunning lake, encircled by volcanoes, and visit the neighbouring Maya villages
  • Maya sites - Discover the atmospheric site of Tikal, its spires poking out of deep jungle, and the peaceful site of Copan
  • Chichicastenango Market - Throw yourself into the bustle and colour of this busy market, and see the modern Maya culture come to life
  • Festivals - Holy Week celebrations in Antigua, or the giant kite festival celebrated as part of the Day of the Dead festivities in Sumpango
Why Book this Tour
We have planned the dates of this tour to coincide with the San Tomas Festival in Guatemala. This festival is a mix of Christian and native traditions centred around the famous church in Chichicastenango.
Destinations
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Santiago
  • Lake Atitlan
  • Flores
  • Tikal
  • Chichicastenago
  • Antigua
  • Copan
  • Central America
Tour Types
  • Couples
  • Singles
  • Birdwatching
  • Museum
  • Sightseeing
  • Walking
  • Cultural
  • Festivals
  • History
  • Ruins-Archaeology
  • Active
  • Adventure
  • Scenic
  • Small Group
  • 50 plus

Location: Guatemala City

Arrive in Guatemala City, the country's busy capital. Much of the city is quite modern, but the colonial centre around the main square harks back to the time when the city was officially declared Guatemala's new capital in the eighteenth century. Due to the number of evening flights into the international airport, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Guatemala City at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into La Aurora International Airport (airport code: GUA), approximately a 40 minute drive from our hotel. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to visit the bustling Mercado Central or one of the city's many museums.

Accommodation: ,Hotel,

Meals: ,No Meals,

Location: Copan Ruinas

We will start our day with a short orientation tour by bus of Guatemala City before heading to Copan in Honduras. This afternoon, you have free time to visit Macaw Mountain (optional).

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Copan Ruinas

Everyone familiar with Catherwood's incredible drawings (which first appeared in John Stephens' 1841 narrative - 'Incidents of Travel in Central America and Yucatan') will recognise scenes and objects from this marvellous site. Stephens actually bought the entire site for US$ 50 from a local farmer! The Great Plaza is one of the most amazing achievements of the Classic Maya period (AD 750) and contains the greatest collection of Maya sculpture anywhere in Meso-America. The famous Hieroglyphic Stairway is composed of 2500 individual glyphs; its sides are flanked by serpentine birds and snakes. We have the whole day to enjoy this special place, leaving you plenty of time to explore on your own. The afternoon is free to either visit the museum dedicated to the site or visit Macaw Mountain.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Livingston

This morning we will stop en route at Quirigua, renowned for its fine Mayan carvings, covered with intricate glyphs which still remain a mystery to scholars and archeologists. Quirigua was dominated by Copan but was valued as a trading centre for the jade that can be found throughout the surrounding area. Independence from Copan was finally achieved under Quirigua's most powerful leader, Cauac Sky in 737AD. We will then continue to Puerto Barrios where we will board our launch and cross the bay to the lazy, laidback town of Livingston on the Caribbean coast. Here we can enjoy the colourful, lively Garifuna town, with its unique racial blend. In the evening there may be the chance to hear the increasingly popular local music or enjoy the fresh seafood in one of the many restaurants along the main street.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Tikal

We start our day by heading west on the Rio Dulce by boat. The river squeezes through an impressive gorge of towering cliffs covered in a mass of jungle creepers with Egrets, pelicans and cormorants lining the shores. En route we will stop at the small community project of Ak Tenamit where you will have the opportunity to learn more about this educational support project that has been set up. From the town of Rio Dulce we will continue by bus to Tikal, possibly the greatest of all the Mayan cities, located in the heart of the Peten jungle. The ruins of Tikal can easily be compared with the masterpieces of Egypt and Greece. Initially settled about 600 BC, Tikal was abandoned by its rulers around AD 890 and totally deserted a hundred years later, overgrown by the jungle. Rediscovered in 1848, they comprise many great temples and pyramids. The city covers an area of more than 16 square kilometres with temples, palaces, causeways, ballcourts, spacious plazas, and hundreds of other architectural ruins - a superb example of sophisticated Mayan engineering.

Accommodation: Lodge

Location: Flores

We will have an early start to get into the site for a guided tour. The site is so large we leave you free time to explore at your own pace this afternoon. Those with a good head for heights could climb one of the pyramids which pierce the jungle canopy for splendid views over the whole area. In the afternoon we will drive to Santa Elena. This evening we have a chance to wander the streets of Flores Island. Situated on a small island in the tranquil Lake Peten Itza and joined to the mainland by a causeway, Flores remains a quaint and peaceful town.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Cobán

Leaving Flores behind we head south into the southern mountains for a long day's drive through varied scenery. We drive to Sayaxche where we cross the river by ferry before continuing to the Candelaria Caves. Following our visit to the caves we continue onto Coban, where we will overnight.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Antigua Guatemala

This morning we have a very early start to travel the short distance to Biotopo del Quetzal Reserve, as it is the best time to go bird watching. We start the day with a walk in the cloudforest; if we are lucky we may see the elusive quetzal which feeds on the fruit of the aguacatillo tree at dawn. The quetzal was sacred to the ancients of Central America and the plumed serpent god Quetzalcoatl was a supreme deity. Killing a quetzal was punishable by death and the 2ft long iridescent green tail feathers were worth more than gold. Today the resplendent quetzal is the Guatemalan national bird. Following our visit to the Biotope we will continue to Antigua.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Santa Catarina Pinula

This morning we will drive to Sumpango, just on the hills outside of Antigua to see the All Saints 'Giant Kites' Festival. On November 1st of every year the people of Sumpango, Sacatepequez put together these giant kites to fly during the Day of the Dead. The kites are made of cloth and paper with bamboo frames, they depict religious or folkloric themes and they are flown to honor the dead. The kites traditionally can take up to 40 days to build, they are held together with a glue made with a mixture of yucca flower, lemon peel and water, the ropes are made of the maguey plant (the plant that also brings us tequila!), and the tails are made from woven cloth. This tradition dates back 3000 years and still today is seen as a way of communicating with the beyond. After watching the spectacle we will drive to Santa Catarina, a small village on the shore of Lake Atitlan; there are always magnificent views of the impressive volcanic peaks of Atitlan (3537m), San Pedro (3020m) and Toliman (3158m) towering over the lakeside.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Santa Catarina Pinula

The volcano-ringed Lake Atitlan is a place of stunning beauty. Some 24km long by 16km wide, it lies at an altitude of 1585m. On the first day, we include a boat trip to visit villages inhabited by Tzututils Indians, including Santiago Atitlan. Poignant reminders of the recent history of this village are visible as we visit the church, originally built in 1547, and we may see more traditional Mayan rituals at the shrine to Maximon. The second day is left free visit the popular town of Panajachel, where you can enjoy the comfortable climate, relaxed atmosphere and stunning setting. The lake changes hue at different times of the day and can appear green, deep blue, or grey, while at sunset it glows fiery red.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Nebaj

Early this morning we drive to the famous market town of Chichicastenango, the 'sacred town' of the Indigenous Quiche. The Thursday market is a colourful affair which attracts people from the surrounding countryside to trade their produce and handicrafts. It is also the perfect place to pick up souvenirs of your visit. From here we continue our adventurous journey into the famous Ixil mountains. The drive is spectacular as we wind our way up through valleys and over hills, passing gushing rivers, heading north from Sacapulas. Finally we arrive at Nebaj, part of the lxil triangle. We are staying in simple accommodation this evening, the best choice in this remote area. Rooms are clean and comfortable with ensuite bathrooms.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Nebaj

The Ixil are famous for their fine weaving (some of the best to be found in Guatemala), especially the geometric designs in purple, green, yellow and red on the huipiles (blouses) worn by the Indian women. We spend the day exploring and plan to follow a trail over and out of the Nebaj Valley to the neighbouring valley . Weather permitting, we will enjoy good views of the mountain range as we walk up over a pass and descend to the village of Acul. We are bound to come across colourfully dressed Ixil using the trails, but there are certainly few other foreigners in this isolated area.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Antigua Guatemala

We start this morning with a Textile demonstration from some of the local women before driving south. On route we will stop at the Mayan site of Iximche - a small site set in beautiful pine forests. After exploring the site we will then continue to Antigua de Guatemala, set in a beautiful valley between the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Antigua Guatemala

After an orientation tour this morning you will have free time to explore Antigua further. An orientation tour of this graceful old colonial city shows how it can justly claim to be one of the most charming in Central America despite the damage caused by a series of earthquakes and floods over the ages. The afternoon is free to wander the timeless streets and hunt for souvenirs. One of its lively restaurants makes a perfect setting for our last meal together.

Accommodation: Hotel

Location: Antigua Guatemala

The trip ends this morning at our hotel in Antigua Guatemala. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from La Aurora International Airport (airport code: GUA). The drive between the airport and our hotel is only 40km but can take between 1.5 and 4 hours depending on the traffic and the time of day.

Included
  • Meals – Breakfast Only
    -Breakfast: 14
  • Fully Guided
  • Accommodation
  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)
  • Airport Transfers at Destination

Not Included
  • Tipping and Gratuities
    -
  • Country Entry Visas
    -
  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day
    -
5* Ancient Lands Of The Maya
Our groupt on well together which made life for Marvin easier and more pleasurable for all of us - no moaners on this trip!
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Date: 13-Nov-2019

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14 nights from pp exc.flights; per Night
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Start:Guatemala City
Finish:Antigua
Group size:4 - 18
Suitable for: Adult
Accommodation:Standard
Physical rating:Medium, Full On
Meals:Breakfast: 14
Diets:Vegetarians, Vegans
Tour operated in: English
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