Eccentric markets, smoking volcanoes, magical traditions, and warm hospitality describe the Guatemalan highlands and the discoveries on this tour. Visit the majestic ruins of Tikal before crossing into Belize to travel through cathedral-shaped caves and explore winding trails along the Roaring River. This Latin America adventure travel brings an opportunity to encounter the highlights of Guatemala and Belize in one trip!
Explore the city of Antigua and admire the gilded cathedrals
Visit a women's textile cooperative to view hand weaving & the dye process
Visit the towering pyramids of Tikal
Travel deep into Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave
This Latin America adventure travel hits the highlights of both Guatemala and Belize. Visit the highlands of Guatemala exploring the local markets and visiting the ruins of Tikal before heading to Belize for the second part of your tour. Spend your time in Belize exploring archaeological sites by day and relaxing in the beautiful jungle lodges in the evening.
We will meet you in Guatemala City and transfer you to your hotel in Antigua.
Volcan Fuego mounts to the roof of the world above the streets of Antigua below. Once the capital of Guatemala and all Central America, Antigua mirrors a living ruin. Mammoth churches and palaces tell the story of Antigua's past grandeur and rebuilt facades speak of a bright future for this amazing city. This morning explore the city and admire Antigua's gilded cathedrals. The afternoon is at your leisure. You can rent a mountain bike to explore the countryside, visit a Coffee Finca or macadamia nut plantation, or just explore the place sitting in the main plaza.
This morning awake early and drive about an hour to arrive in San Juan de Comalapa. Enjoy the bustle of the vibrating market less visited by tourists. Vendors set their handicrafts, vegetables, and animals in a line to sell. Explore the market and meet the local painters who maintain the tradition of naïve paintings. View the famous mural painted by school children in 1996 describing Guatemala's recent civil war events. Explore the city and try the special bread in one of the local Panaderias before you leave.
Next travel to the Maya site of Iximche, a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archeological site abandoned in 1524. Stroll amongst a number of pyramid temples, palaces, and two ballcourts and view the painted murals on the sides of some complexes. Sculptures and ceramics are also put in the small on-site museum. Proceed next to the shores of charming Lake Atitlan, a deep caldera lake flanked by three high volcanoes. After enough exploration, settle into your cozy hotel along the shores near Panajachel.
Today you board a passenger ferry and travel across the azure-colored waters of Lake Atitlan to the village of San Juan La Laguna. Here visit the women's textile cooperative to view hand weaving and the natural dye process used to create their popular plates, woven mats made from lake reeds. You may also visit the home studios of the noted naif painters.
Proceed to the village of Santiago, where villagers still maintain the traditional lifestyle of the Tz'utuhil Maya and on your way see many people cloaked in brightly-colored, hand-woven clothing. Along Santiago's main street are art galleries filled with oil paintings portraying busy market scenes and typical life in the highlands. Scholars tell us that the ancient Maya vanished mysteriously a thousand years ago, but anyone who has closely explored this captivating region knows that the Maya continue to shine in the highlands of Guatemala. Visit Maximon and leave an offering to this unique and revered deity. Return to Panajachel this afternoon and spend the rest of the day as you like.
Today you start early to visit the famous market of Chichicastenango. This pretty town, surrounded by valleys and shadowed by mountains, has many shamanistic and ceremonial overtones. Its large market gathers villagers from throughout the region, who often arrive the previous night and sleep on blankets in the market square. Rising early, they set out their colorful products, vegetables, and handicrafts. The market disperses early afternoon and you return to Guatemala City in time to catch an early evening flight to the tropical lowlands of the Peten and the home of the ancient Maya.
This morning get prepared to join a group of other adventurers for a half-day tour of Tikal. Here find towering pyramids standing above the thick jungle canopy, and learn how the city flourished as an important religious, scientific, and political center for 1500 years. Today, the pristine forest covering the ruined city is home to howler and spider monkeys, white-lipped peccary, brocket deer, coatimundis, toucans, scarlet macaws, parrots, ocelots, and the seldom-seen jaguar. After lunch, the day is at your leisure to explore the ruins before returning to your hotel near Flores.
This morning you are picked up for the 3-hour land transfer to your Belizean retreat. Your jungle lodge is placed next to the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve and Roaring River. Surrounded by pristine forest, your days at the lodge are filled with natural wonders exploring the lush vegetation of the Maya Mountains and the mysteries beneath.
Spend today resting and settling into your jungle lodge. The day is at your leisure to explore the many trails and river that flow through the Pooks Hill property. Take a guided tour in old growth forest, swim along the jungle river, or just relax and listen to the wildlife that surrounds you.
Today continue your journeys of the ancient Maya with a visit to the remains of Caracol. Surrounded by breathtaking Belizean jungle, a visit to the ruins offer huge structures, haunting tombs, and burial sites, and charming carvings that tell stories about the people who lived and worked in this wonderful Maya city. There is still much to be discovered at Caracol and archaeologists continue their digs and maintenance of the site. With time stopped at Rio On Pools and Rio Frio Cave. A stop at the pools makes for an attractive dip, especially after spending the afternoon hiking under the hot Belize sun. The smooth granite stones make for excellent slides, but be sure to care about your step. Even for those who prefer to keep dry, the charm of the pools is well worth the stop. Not situated far from the pools is the Rio Frio Cave. This is the largest cave in Belize. Approaching the cave's largemouth invites a magical, almost frighteningly strange sensation. Long ago the cave was used as a ceremonial site for the Maya, but while artifacts no longer remain, the cave still holds onto its enthusiasm.
Today you will join the most exciting part of your Latin America adventure travel. Wake early for your memorable adventure into the Maya underworld. Start your journey from your lodge doors, crossing creeks and traveling deep into the Belizean jungle to the opening of the sacred Actun Tunichil Muknal, the Cave of the Stone Sepulcher. At the entrance of the caving gear up with helmets and waterproof headlamps, then paddle into the emerald-colored water flowing from the cave's gaping mouth. Your way follows the river's flow through wet and dry caves encased in hanging stalactites and overlooking stalagmites. The final destination is the magnificent primary chamber where ancient kings and priests made blood sacrifices to appease the Maya gods. Your lights brighten the ghostly outlines of skeletal ritual victims and scattered ceramic shards of ancient rituals. Tunichil is an active archeological site, so be sure not to disturb the sleeping skeletons and ceramic pieces before coming back to the light above ground. Those favoring life above ground can pick from a variety of alternative excursions.
After breakfast, we will transfer you to Belize City to catch your international flight for home.
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