18 Days --- February 17th to March 16th
Cultural & Natural Heritage Tour
Saturday, February 17th
Arrival in Guatemala City airport from the United States. Transfer to your hotel and acclimate. Overnight at Hotel Posada Belen in Guatemala City.
Sunday, February 18th
CHICHICASTENANGO - ATITLAN
Transfer from your hotel to Chichicastenango, the great market center on the Western Highlands. Every Thursday and Sunday the town is flooded with traders who bring their products. Crowded with merchants from all over the region, you will be able to see exquisite artistry and postcard perfect pictures in real life. First we shall walk uphill to Pascual Abaj, the stone idol still used today in Maya ceremonies. Then, after wandering through the market, we will visit to the church of Santo Tomas where the chuchkajaus (prayer men) perform ceremonies and make their offerings of candles, flowers, incense and liquor. After lunch we will head south, to the village of Panajachel on Lake Atitlán taking in the breathtaking views along the way. Thereafter, discover “Pana” as the town is affectionately called… on your own…
Overnight at Hotel Rancho Grande Inn.
Monday, February 19th
SANTIAGO ATITLAN & PANAJACHEL
After breakfast, go to Santiago Atitlán in the regular boat service for shopping and a short visit, free time to enjoy the colorful Tzutuhil Indian village of Santiago, its handicrafts and traditions while you discover Santiago’s secrets and ceremonies. Lake Atitlan was described as the most beautiful lake in the world by Aldous Huxley, in his book A Brave New World. It is surrounded by three towering volcanoes: Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro. Lunch on your own. Return to your hotel. Free afternoon.
Overnight at Hotel Rancho Grande Inn.
Tuesday, February 20th
SAN BUENA VENTURA - SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS
Early this morning transfer from your hotel to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, in Mexico. A visit to the San Buena Ventura Nature Preserve and Butterfly Sanctuary may be included today at your request. You will be able to appreciate the beauty of the Guatemalan Highlands all along the way and make occasional stops to take pictures and stretch your legs. We will cross at La Mesilla border and take care of immigration formalities, arriving at San Cristobal in the afternoon. Check in at your hotel and time to explore the main square in the village on your own. Overnight at Hotel Real del Valle.
Wednesday, February 21st
SAN JUAN CHAMULA - ZINACANTAN
After breakfast you will take a tour to the indigenous villages of San Juan Chamula and San Lorenzo Zinacantán. The navel of the world is believed to be in one of the mountains you will visit, according to the locals’ beliefs, which take root in the ancient Maya religion. After returning from your minibus, horseback and foot expedition, enjoy a lecture about the Zapatistas by a local chiapaneco. Overnight at Hotel Real del Valle
Thursday, February 22nd
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS
After breakfast enojy a full free day in San Cristobal de las Casas to discover more of the local culture and go shopping on your own. Highly recommended in San Cristobal are a visit to Casa Na Bolom, a museum and library of dedicated to the local culture, the market and the Museum of Santo Domingo. An optional tour to Tenejapa to see a local festivity will be offered on this day. Overnight at Hotel Real del Valle.
Friday, February 23rd
AGUA AZUL - MISOLHA
After breakfast, transfer to Palenque. En route, we will visit the impressive geological formations of Misol-Ha Waterfall and Agua Azul, a series of breathtaking cascades. We will try to spend quality time so that you may walk and enjoy a refreshing swim at one of these two beautiful stops along the way today. Arrival in Palenque for overnight at Hotel Villas Kin ha.
Saturday, February 24th
After breakfast full day tour of Palenque. Palenque is a small yet beautiful Maya Classic site, its architecture resembles the Maya sites found in the Peten region in Guatemala more than those of Mexico’s Maya World, but it bears very original constructions found nowhere else in the Maya World, of an extraordinary beauty: such as The Palace, The Temple of the Inscriptions and Pacal’s pyramid tomb. Overnight at Hotel Villas Kin ha.
Sunday, February 25th
Transfer Palenque to Bonampak. Tour in Bonampak, discovered in 1946 and famous for its life-sized murals, painted in vibrant reds, greens and yellows, which are spectacular. Lunch. After Lunch, transfer to Frontera Corozal. Check in for overnight at Hotel Escudo Jaguar.
Monday, February 26th
After your breakfast, transfer to Yaxchilan for a morning tour. 40 minute boat ride through the rich tropical forest on the Usumacinta river, which forms the border between Guatemala and Mexico. See old growth tall tropical forests of Guatemala's Sierra del Lacandon National Park, where you may get a glimpse of the brilliant scarlet macaw..... Return up river to the village of Bethel from which you will have a private transfer to take you to Flores Petén. Upon arrival, early check in at your hotel. You can take your time to go on a little night walk around Flores. Overnight at Hotel del Patio.
Tuesday, February 27th
Breakfast at your hotel on your own.
Transfer to Tikal National Park. Check in at Hotel Jungle Lodge. Enjoy lunch back at your hotel. After lunch you may want to visit the Tikal Visitor’s Center for an introduction to Tikal, a vast site, excavated by Pennsylvania University between 1953- 1969. The site is the largest excavated site in the Americas, with more than 10 square miles of restorations and excavations, framed by an extense 222 square mile nature preserve. In the afternoon, birding is highly recommended. Overnight at Jungle Lodge.
Wednesday, February 28th
TIKAL - UAXACTUN
At day break (5:30 a.m.), guided tour of Tikal’s Flora & Fauna with a professional guide. We recommend you take power bars and something to drink this morning for a light breakfast en route to the ruins… After your tour you will have time to have a little brunch on your own. At 2 p.m. transfer to Uaxactun. Visit the most ancient Maya Observatory and the local Maya art collection. Dinner and overnight at El Chiclero Ecolodge.
Thursday, March 1st
LAKE PETEN ITZA - RIO DULCE
Breakfast at El Chiclero. Transfer to Lake Peten Itza for a short visit to the ecoartisans, who produce handicrafts from jungle woods they rescue from burning fields, this will allow to speak about conservation and sustainable development in the region. Continue to Rio Dulce overland. Overnight at Hacienda Tijax.
Friday, March 2nd
QUIRIGUA - COPAN
After breakfast transfer to Quirigua. Visit the ancient Maya site that bears the tallest stellae in the Maya World and then continue to Copan. Immigration formalities at the border. Arrive in the village of Copan Ruinas and check in at your hotel. Visit the main square and time permitting the museum in the town’s square. Overnight at Casa de Café Bed and Breakfast or Iguana Azul Lodge.
Saturday, March 3rd
Breakfast at your hotel. Full day to visit Copan and its impressive carved monuments. After lunch on your own, visit the Copan Museum. Overnight at Casa de Café or Iguana Azul Lodge.
Sunday, March 4th
COPAN - GUATEMALA CITY
As there is much to see in Copan, today you will have more time to either go back to the site and explore the tunnel system left by the archaeologists so that visitors may appreciate earlier phases of construction on the Mayan buildings at Copan. You may want to rest a bit and discover the village of Copan Ruinas on your own. Alternatively, if you may be interested in visiting the ancient site of Los Sapos by horseback. This site is an earlier settlement than Copan and continues to puzzle archaeologists to this date...
At 2:30 p.m. we will head back to Guatemala City. Overnight at Posada Belen.
Monday, March 5th
After breakfast on your own transfer to Antigua. The city of Antigua was declared a Cultural Heritage Site of Mankind by UNESCO. Today Antigua’s architectural grandeur is revealed through the myriad ruins which frame the city’s hundred cobbled streets… After checking into your hotel (if you spent the night in Guatemala City) visit Antigua’s cultural heritage and explore the monuments of the colonial past, enjoying Antigua’s unique atmosphere on our Colonial History Walking Tour with a professional guide. Lunch on your own. Free afternoon to wander around Antigua, wander the colorful streets, shop at the endless textile markets or simply sit in Antigua’s central park and take it all in. Farewell dinner. Late evening transfer back to Guatemala City for overnight at Posada Belen.
Tuesday, March 6th
Transfer to the airport for you flights back home.