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2by2 for holidays that will change your life
2by2 for holidays that will change your life
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Costa Rica, Guatemala & Belize Holiday: Sloths + Antigua + Tikal + Ambergris Caye

3 Countries: Costa Rica + Guatemala + Belize
RPG16S
16 NIGHTS
FROM £3,395
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Costa Rica Guatemala Belize Holiday Sloths Antigua Tikal Ambergris Caye

This Costa Rica, Guatemala & Belize holiday combines the highlights of these three small Central American countries. View sloths, birds and rainforest wildlife around Arenal Volcano, and enjoy its hot springs & waterfalls. Then explore colonial Antigua, beautiful Lake Atitlan & the Mayan ruins in Tikal & Belize, before relaxing on stunning Ambergris Caye. All transfers, park fees & specified sightseeeing included.

Costa Rica Guatemala Belize Holiday Sloths Antigua Tikal Ambergris Caye
• 
Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize Holiday
• 
Arenal Volcano & Sloths
• 
La Fortuna Waterfall
• 
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
• 
Hanging Bridges + Hot Springs
• 
Antigua
• 
Lake Atitlan
• 
Tikal Mayan Ruins
• 
Caracol Ruins & ATM Caves
• 
Ambergris Caye
• 
Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize Holiday
• 
Arenal Volcano & Sloths
• 
La Fortuna Waterfall
• 
Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge
• 
Hanging Bridges + Hot Springs
• 
Antigua
• 
Lake Atitlan
• 
Tikal Mayan Ruins
• 
Caracol Ruins & ATM Caves
• 
Ambergris Caye
Day 1
You will be met at San Jose Airport and transferred 3.5-hours through beautiful Costa Rican scenery towards the Arenal Volcano - one of the most active in Central America, with a perfect cone that on a clear day is visible from almost anywhere in the area.
 
Our route crosses a large cattle and agricultural area, where chocolate is grown. Cacao was very important in the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations and today it is enjoyed throughout the world.
 
Check into your hotel in La Fortuna, where you can relax surrounded by rainforests, waterfalls and thermal hot springs.
Day 2
This morning enjoy a privately guided tour to the Arenal Hanging Bridges - a series of nine fixed and six suspension bridges, located in a natural corridor followed by migratory birds travelling between North and South America and offering wonderful views of the lake and volcano.
 
This 2-mile (3-km) trail will allow you to enjoy the great diversity of flora and fauna inside this mountainous zone, as well as outstanding bird watching. Keep an eye out for howler monkeys, sloths, anteaters, coati, racoons and other rainforest wildlife. Birds you can hope to see include the Yellow-throated toucan, Crested guan, Grey-headed chachalaca, Baltimore oriole, Clay-coloured thrush and Red-throated ant tanager, amongst others.
 
In the afternoon relax at the Tabacon Hot Springs with its many waterfalls and pools, as well as a large swimming pool with swim-up bar. Dinner at the hot springs is included this evening.
 
Note: This trail is not suitable if you have a fear of heights. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring binoculars & rain gear. Also sun hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, swimwear and water shoes.
Day 3
This morning you will be collected from your hotel by your guide for a privately guided excursion, walking for 3-miles (5-km) along one of the trails around the base of the volcano.
 
Arenal Volcano rises to 5,250 ft (1,600 m) and towers over the village of La Fortuna. On the morning of 29 July 1968, after having been inactive for three thousand years, it erupted in the most spectacular way. The earth started shaking, clouds of ashes rose into the sky, women washing clothes by the river felt the water becoming hot, and lava started pouring down the side of the volcano.
 
Your guide will explain more about this eruption as you walk along one of the trails through the rainforest, where you can see large lumps of sandy lava rock and view the many plants now growing here, as the rainforest has recovered. At the top of the trail, on a clear day you will have beautiful views over Lake Arenal. There is also a deck at the end of the trail, with postcard views of the volcano.
 
In the afternoon we drive to La Fortuna Waterfall, which plunges down nearly 250 ft (75-m) from a cliff outside the town. Surrounded by lush foliage, the climb down to the waterfall is tough (500 steps) but the view once you get there will be worth the effort. At the bottom there is the opportunity to swim in the cold waters of the surge pool and shallow river at the bottom.
 
Note: Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring binoculars & rain gear. Also sun hat, sunscreen and insect repellent. Bring swimwear, towel and water shoes for the waterfall climb, which is not suitable for anyone with mobility issues.
Day 4
Today transfer 1.5-hours to Los Chiles for a full day shared excursion to Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, situated on the border with Nicaragua.
 
This humid wetland system protects over 350 different birds including the Anahinga (snake bird), Wood stork, the endangered Jabiru (the largest bird in Central America), Olivaceous cormorant and the beautiful pink Roseate spoonbill, as well as many migratory species. The park is home to least 160 different mammals including howler monkeys, white faced monkeys, spider monkeys, three-toed sloths, tapirs, ocelots and peccaries. You can hope to see iguanas, turtles and caimans in this wildlife reserve that also provides sanctuary for endangered species such as jaguars and cougars.
 
All wildlife viewing is by boat (about 2.5-hours), travelling along tranquil waterways that pass through these tropical rainforests and pastures, followed by an included lunch. Afterwards we return to La Fortuna.
 
Note: You need to bring your passport with you today to gain entry. Group size 2 to 44 guests per guide/boat.
Day 5
Today we transfer 3.5-hours to San Jose Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Guatemala City Airport and transferred 2-hours to the former Spanish capital of Antigua, situated in a valley between coffee farms, indigenous villages and three imposing volcanoes.
 
Check into your hotel in this small city renowned for its beautiful colonial buildings, many of which were restored following an earthquake in 1773. Today the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 6
This morning enjoy a 3-hour privately guided walking through the rough cobblestone streets of Antigua ('Ancient City'), originally called Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Goathemala (City of Saint James of the Knights of Guatemala).
 
Antigua used to be the capital but following the Santa Marta earthquakes, which destroyed much of the city in 1773, the Spanish moved this to Guatemala City. The Santa Catalina Arch is one of the most famous landmarks in Antigua. It has been rebuilt several times following earthquakes, although the buildings on either side are now largely ruins. It was originally constructed as a bridge, allowing the nuns living in the convents which once flanked the street to cross over without being seen by the public, as they had taken a vow to avoid all contact with anyone from outside the convent.
 
We visit the beautiful baroque La Merced Monastery, which is central to the city's famous Holy Week processions, before taking a tuk-tuk to the Church of San Francisco where you can see the tomb of Saint Peter of Saint Joseph de Betancur, Guatemala's first saint. We also view some of the city's ornately decorated churches and Spanish colonial ruins, whilst absorbing its cultural, architectural and social history - ending at Antigua Guatemala Cathedral.
 
Your afternoon is free to explore more of Antigua independently.
Day 7
This morning we leave Antigua and drive 2.5-hours through the scenic Central Highlands to beautiful Lake Atitlán.
 
Along the way we stop at the market town of Chichicastenango ('Chichi'). Here you will see local Maya people in their traditional dress, going about their daily lives - working in the fields, collecting firewood, travelling between markets and selling their wares. Your guide will take you to explore this large world-renowned market. Visit the fruit and vegetable sections, where locals buy produce and household goods and spend time in the artisan craft area, where countless stalls overflow with a variety of handmade textiles, carved wood and ceramic crafts.
 
You can also visit the famous SantoTomas Church, where both Maya and Catholic rituals are performed in the same sanctuary, reflecting the intertwining of these two diverse faiths in this region. If you wish, you can hike up the hill to the Pascual Abaj, a pre-Colombian Maya idol which survived the Spanish conquest and is still venerated by the local community, where you may see local shamans performing their rituals. Or you can visit the cemetery on the outskirts of town, where the mausoleums are painted in vivid colours.
 
Enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant, before continuing to spectacular Lake Atitlán. Surrounded by rugged hills, a trio of towering volcanoes and a handful of small villages, this lake was formed more than 80,000 years ago during a violent volcanic eruption. Tz'utujil and Kaqchiquel Mayas have plied its shores for centuries and continue to do so today, wearing vibrant traditional clothing and practising age-old Maya customs. The area is also popular for kayaking, biking and zip-lining.
 
Panajachel is the lake's main hub. From here, boats depart regularly for destinations like San Juan La Laguna, which is known for its hand-woven, naturally dyed textiles and San Pedro, where intrepid visitors can summit a 9,908 ft (3,020 m) volcano.
 
Note: Chichi market is held every Thursday and Sunday.
Day 8
Today enjoy a full day private tour exploring the small villages of San Juan & Santiago, that overlook majestic Lake Atitlán. This lake is in the caldera of what was once a vast volcano and is about 10 miles long, 5 miles wide and 1,000 ft deep. Because of its size it has its own microclimate, with daytime temperatures constant at around 28 C all year, but dropping to near freezing at night.
 
In San Juan we watch indigenous weavers mix natural dyes from locally grown plants and flowers, and see the women use a backstrap loom to create intricate textiles, thread by colourful thread. We also visit a workshop of indigenous art, before boarding the boat for the cruise to Santiago.
 
After an included lunch, we set out to find the house of Maximón, the Maya folk saint who moves to a different home each year in a great ceremonial procession. A shaman may be performing a ritual for a local follower or two gathered at Maximón's candle-lit altar. Afterwards you can visit the church, learn more about the town's vivid history and browse in the local market, with its distinctive textiles.
Day 9
After a morning at leisure, transfer 4-hours to Guatemala City Airport for your flight to Flores.
 
You will be met at Flores Airport and transferred 1-hour to Tikal National Park. Here deep in the heart of the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, lies one of the major archaeological sites of the Mayan civilisation.
 
Note: Your drivers today will only speak Spanish.
 
As this is a twin propeller plane, it is essential to avoid oversized baggage and remain within 20 kg, plus one carry on item up to 6.8 kg that must fit on your lap. If for any reason your bags cannot fit, they will follow on the next available flight – usually later the same day, or early the following morning. Our ground handler will ensure your bags are taken to your hotel. Airport tax of approx $3 per person is payable locally.
Day 10
This morning set out early on a private tour of Tikal National Park, the largest archaeological site and urban centre of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, where over 3,000 ancient structures rise from the rainforest floor.
 
Once home to an estimated at 50,000 residents, Tikal flourished from 800 BC to 900 AD. The site is simply enormous and includes temples, palaces, squares, tombs, stone monuments and altars. You can follow in the footsteps of both Maya royalty and commoners, as your guide leads you to sites such as the majestic Great Plaza and its huge Temple of the Grand Jaguar, the Temple of the Masks, the Acropolis, the Lost World Pyramid and much more. At 230 ft (70 m), Temple IV is the tallest pre-Colombian structure in the Americas.
 
Not only will you enjoy a fascinating tour of this impressive Mayan citadel that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but you will also experience the sights and sounds of the tropical birds and animals that live in the jungle canopy, including howler and spider monkeys. However be warned - it is tiring and requires strong legs, with lots of walking and climbing in the heat of the rainforest.
 
After an included lunch at a local restaurant, you can explore the museum at the visitor centre before returning to your hotel.
Day 11
This morning leave Tikal and transfer 2.5-hours across the border to the Cayo District in Belize - stopping for immigration formalities at Melchor de Mencos, where you will switch vehicles and drivers.
 
Located in the west of Belize, close to the border with Guatemala, this vast stretch of highland rainforest contains some of the country's most remote and rugged terrain. It offers the opportunity to explore the great outdoors on foot, mountain bike, horseback, kayak or canoe.
 
After checking in to your lodge, your afternoon is at leisure.
 
Note: Your drivers today will only speak Spanish. Border crossing fees of approximately $19 per person are payable locally.
Day 12
Today enjoy a full day excursion through the stunning Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, a protected national park that is home to much endemic wildlife and a myriad of underground caves, to the famous Caracol Ruins - the largest Mayan archaeological site in Belize.
 
The 3-hour drive starts out on a paved road from San Ignacio, before continuing off-road through the sprawling national park, which features dramatic waterfalls and pristine rivers and pools. Notice the change from pine forest to tropical rainforest as you enter the Chiquibul Forest Reserve, which surrounds the ruins.
 
The impressive ruins at Caracol (meaning 'snail') are situated on the Vaca Plateau in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. This was one of the most important regional political centres in the Maya Lowlands, covering an area of over 30 square miles (78 square km) of thick jungle. It was much larger than present day Belize City, with twice its population. There are over 35,000 identified buildings including five plazas, a cosmic observatory and thousands of other structures. Follow the footsteps of Maya rulers by climbing up the steps of the massive Caana pyramid and see the three temples sharing its lofty peak. Enjoy a panoramic view of rainforest canopy as you look out from 43 m (140 ft) above the jungle floor. Because the ruins lie within a reserve, you may encounter exotic birds and other wildlife as you meander through the ruins.
 
After a guided tour of the ruins and an included picnic lunch we return home, stopping along the way at the alluring Rio Frio Cave, where you can take a refreshing dip in pristine pools formed by waterfalls.
Day 13
Today enjoy a private tour exploring the impressive Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave - the 'Cave of the Stone Sepulchre'- with included picnic lunch.
 
Located in the heart of the rainforest, the ATM cave system was a sacred place for the pre-Hispanic Mayans of Belize. A series of chambers ends in a huge 300m by 50m 'cathedral', where sacrificial ceremonies once took place. This fascinating living museum will allow you to view historic artifacts in their original setting.
 
After driving 1-hour to the trailhead, we walk for 45-minutes through the dense jungle of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, wading across three streams as we learn more about the flora and fauna. At the entrance to the caves you will be fitted with a hard hat with headlamp and a life jacket, before swimming into the cave. Once inside climb onto some large rocks and wade upstream against the river for about 1-mile. Climb over, under and around some huge boulders, swim across two small lakes and climb up a steep ladder to 'the cathedral', where most artefacts have been found. This site is unique because these items have been left here and not removed to museums. You can also squeeze into smaller chambers, where you will find more ancient pottery and skeletons from Mayan sacrifices, and see impressive stalagmites and stalactites. You will be inside the cave for about 2-hours, before returning along the same route. Swimming is mainly required at the main entrance, but may be needed in a few other places inside the cave, depending on water levels. Mostly you will be wading through water that can vary between waist and neck height.
 
Note: This is a demanding tour that needs a good level of physical fitness, including the ability to clamber over high boulders and swim. If you suffer from claustrophobia, or if this excursion is too physically demanding for you, ask us to substitute a visit to the more accessible Barton Creek Caves.
 
You must wear proper river shoes with covered toes (or trainers) and socks today. Wear old light-weight trousers or shorts, and a top that allows for easy movement (ideally wear a swimsuit underneath) and expect to throw these away afterwards. Bring a full change of clothes for when you are finished, so you don’t get cold. Mosquito repellent is prohibited as it washes off as you enter the cave. Cameras are also strictly prohibited inside the cave. Children must be at least 8 years old and taller than 40 in (102 cm).
Day 14
Today take a shared transfer to the small town of San Ignacio for your light aircraft flight to Ambergris Caye.
 
You will be met at San Pedro Airport, with a shared transfer to your hotel on this spectacular Caribbean island - the largest 'caye' (low-elevation sandy island on the surface of a coral reef) in Belize.
 
Note: Your drivers will only speak Spanish today.
 
As this is a single propeller plane, it is essential to avoid oversized baggage and remain within 23 kg, plus one carry on item up to 6.8 kg that must fit on your lap. Oversized bags may not fit into the luggage pods and may not be able to be transported at all.
Days 15 To 16
At leisure to relax on Ambergris Caye, surrounded by the warm turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea.
 
With a fun and laid-back atmosphere, this tiny island is only 25-miles (40 km) long and 5-miles (8 km) across at its widest point, although in many places it is much less than this. Formerly a fishing village, San Pedro is the island's only town and its sandy streets lined with waterfront restaurants and bars are the centre for most sailing, diving and fishing activities.
 
There are many simple pleasures to be had here, including swimming in the crystal clear waters, riding a bike along the beach or enjoying water sports such as kayaking and windsurfing.
 
If you wish to snorkel or dive, you will need to take a boat ride to the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef, which runs parallel to Ambergris Caye. Here you can explore famous sites such as the Hol Chan Marine Reserve with its abundance of sea life, and the 400 ft (124 m) deep Great Blue Hole.
 
Note: Please be aware that there is a lot of sargassum seaweed on the beach, which is cleared by the hotels daily. The closest reefs for snorkelling and diving are about 15-20 minutes by boat.
Day 17
Transfer to San Pedro Airport for your light aircraft flight to Belize City Airport for your flight home.