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Exploring Guatemala and Belize


QPG13G
13 NIGHTS
FROM £2,595
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Our Guatemala and Belize holidays combine the highlights of these two wonderful Central American countries. Starting in the lovely colonial city of Antigua, visit Lake Atitlan with its local villages & the Mayan ruins at Tikal. Then cross the border into Belize to explore the caves of the Cayo district, before flying to spectacular Ambergris Caye for snorkelling & diving. All transfers, light aircraft flights & sightseeing included.
Guatemala Belize Holidays Honeymoon Antigua Lake Atitlan Tikal Ruins
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Antigua
• 
Chichi Market
• 
Lake Atitlan
• 
San Juan & Santiago Villages
• 
Tikal National Park
• 
Cayo District
• 
Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves
• 
Ambergris Caye
• 
Snorkelling & Diving
• 
Guatemala and Belize holidays
• 
Antigua
• 
Chichi Market
• 
Lake Atitlan
• 
San Juan & Santiago Villages
• 
Tikal National Park
• 
Cayo District
• 
Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves
• 
Ambergris Caye
• 
Snorkelling & Diving
• 
Guatemala and Belize holidays
Day 1
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 2
This morning explore the cobblestone streets of Antigua on a 3 to 4-hour privately guided tour.
 
We visit the baroque La Merced Monastery, which is central to the city's two famous Holy Week processions, before taking a tuc-tuc to the Church of Saint Francisco where you can see the tomb of Saint Peter of Saint Joseph de Betancur, Guatemala's first saint.
 
View some of the city's ornately decorated churches and Spanish colonial ruins, and absorb its cultural, architectural and social history - ending at Antigua Guatamala Cathedral. Other sites can be visited by arrangement with your guide, with any extra entrance fees payable locally.
 
Your afternoon is at leisure to explore more of Antigua independently.
Day 3
This morning enjoy a half day Coffee Tour to the nearby town of San Miguel Escobar.
 
You will be shown around by a community guide from De La Gente (DLG), a non-profit organisation working to support small independent coffee producers and promote environmentally responsible agriculture. You will visit some of the families supported by this organisation and see farmers pick, pulp, ferment, wash, dry, thresh, sort or grade the coffee (depending on the season). The coffee will be roasted over an open fire and ground by hand on a grindstone, before you can sample the brew. Afterwards enjoy a simple traditional lunch, prepared and served in a local home, before returning to Antigua.
 
Note: The coffee season runs from November to March.
Day 4
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 St Tomas 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 practicing 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: Chihi market is held every Thursday and Sunday.
Day 5
Today spend a full day exploring with your guide the small villages of San Juan & Santiago, overlooking majestic Lake Atitlán.
 
In San Juan we watch indigenous weavers mix natural dyes from locally grown plants and flowers, and see the women use a back-strap 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. Afterward you can visit the church, learn more about the town's vivid history and browse in the local market, with its distinctive textiles.
Day 6
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: 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 on all Guatemala flights.
Day 7
This morning enjoy a full day private tour of Tikal National Park, where some 3,000 ancient structures rise from the rainforest floor.
 
Not only you will 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. Once home to an estimated at 50,000 residents, Tikal flourished from 800 BC to 900 AD. You can follow in the footsteps of 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.
 
After an included lunch at a local restaurant, you can explore the museum at the Visitor Centre before returning to your hotel.
Day 8
This morning we leave Tikal and travel 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 guides.
 
Located in the west of Belize, close to the border with Guatemala, this vast strech 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: Border crossing fees of approximately $19 per persion are payable locally.
Day 9
Today we explore the impressive Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves (the 'Caves of the Stone Sepulchre').
 
Located in the heart of the rainforest, this cave system was a sacred place for the pre-Hispanic Mayans of Belize. A series of chambers ends in a huge 'Cathedral', where sacrificial ceremonies once took place. This fascinating living museum allows you to view artifacts in their original surroundings and travel back into the past.
 
During the tour we trek for 45-minutes through the dense jungle of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, wading across three streams as we learn more about its flora and fauna. Please note that some swimming is involved today.
 
Note: A hard hat and flashlight will be provided today. This excursion is not suitable if you have any mobility issues.
Day 10
Today transfer to the small town of San Ignacio, with its with colonial streets and a funky medley of restaurants and shops, for your light aircraft flight to Ambergrys Caye.
 
You will be met at San Pedro Airport, with shared transfer to your hotel on this spectacular Caribbean island, that is the largest 'Caye' (low-elevation sandy island on the surface of a coral reef) in Belize.
 
Note: 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 11 To 12
At leisure to soak up the warm turquoise water and white sandy beaches of the paradise that is Ambergris Caye.
 
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.
 
Ambergris Caye runs parallel to the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef, which features many famous dive sites such as the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, with its abundance of sea life, and the 400 ft (124 m) deep Great Blue Hole. There are also plenty of simple pleasures to be had here, including snorkelling and swimming in the crystal clear waters, riding a bike along the beach or enjoying water sports such as kayaking and windsurfing.
Day 13
Transfer to San Pedro Airport for your light aircraft flight to Belize City, where you will be met and transferred into town.
 
Check into your hotel in this busy port, situated on a peninsula jutting into the Caribbean Sea. The largest city in Belize, this was once the capital of the former British Honduras and English remains the national language of this country.
Day 14
Transfer to Belize City Airport for your flight home.

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