Mysteries of Tikal and the Mayan Civilization
14 day tour in Guatemala
Discover the wonders of Guatemala and the mysteries of the Mayan civilization. This trip will allow you to discover the great wonders of Guatemala such as Antigua, Lake Atitlan or the pyramids of Tikal. The itinerary will also take you to the Guatemalan hinterland, to meet the Maya people and in search of a lush and bewitching nature. At Lake Atitlan, a family of the Tzutuhil community opens its doors to you for a beautiful moment of sharing. Overnight at the inhabitant’s home, meeting with a local fisherman and weaving workshops. In the Peten we offer you to sleep in the heart of the jungle in a comfortable lodge and enjoy the sunrise from the highest pyramid of Tikal. Have you ever approached lava on the slopes of an active volcano? This tour will delight the curious and nature lovers in search of authenticity.
Length of stay: 14 days
Kind: Our must-see tours in Guatemala
Fix: For all public
Countries visited: Guatemala, Honduras
San Juan la Laguna
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Day 1 : Guatemala City
Bienvenidos a Guatemala!
Arrive at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, meet your driver and transfer to Antigua. Overnight stay at the hotel Meson María.
Day 2 : Antigua
Surrounded by 3 majestic volcanoes, the ancient capital of Central America has suffered throughout its history many natural hazards: earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions… But Antigua is now one of the most beautiful cities in Guatemala.
We invite you to discover the city which is host to more than thirty monasteries and convents and a grand cathedral in the central square. The cobblestone streets adjoin the colorful patios of the colonial houses. Stroll along the arcades of Parque Central, admiring in the distance the volcanoes Fuego, Agua and Acatenango.
NB : walking visit of the city (no vehicle). Overnight stay at the hotel Meson María.
Day 3 : Antigua
Ascension of the Pacaya volcano :
Early morning outing (7am) for the Pacaya volcano , one of the 3 active volcanoes in Guatemala. After 1h30 of transport, start of the ascent (3h of walking, 400m difference in altitude). The hike is accessible to all and offers beautiful views of the valley and the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. Once at the base of the cone, we observe the crater and the fumaroles that escape from it. Lava flows can be seen when the volcano is active.
Descent of the giant and road to a restaurant with a panoramic view of the Antigua Valley. Lunch prepared with fresh produce grown in the gardens. Visit of the vegetable garden and an orchid greenhouse.
After lunch, transfer to Chichicastenango (3h).
Option included : english speaking local guide for Pacaya Volcano. Overnight stay at the hotel Santo Tomas.
Day 4 : Chichicastenango
Market day in Chichicastenango
Discover the famous market of Chichicastenango (Thursday and Sunday). The Kaqchikel Indians come down twice a week from the surrounding villages to sell their goods. The women wear the traditional huipil representing the seasons of the Mayan calendar. The city is then transformed into a real kaleidoscope of colours and smells. In the centre of the village, shamans purify the church stairs with incense and perform Mayan rituals.
Drive to Lake Atitlan , a highly emblematic place in Guatemala. It is nestled between 3 volcanoes at an altitude of 1600 metres and offers magnificent panoramas. The small villages along the lake – often only accessible by boat – perpetuate festivals and markets rooted in local traditions.
Visit of the Atitlan reserve . Walk on the interpretive trails and suspended bridges in the lush vegetation. Many birds and spider monkeys are observed. Overnight stay at the hotel Dos Mundos Panajachel.
Day 5 : San Juan la Laguna
Meeting at 8am with our local English-speaking guide , and departure by boat for Santa Cruz la Laguna. Walk in the direction of the village of Jaibalito with beautiful views of the volcanoes Toliman, San Pedro and Cerro de Oro. The 1-hour walk allows you to appreciate the local life: the farmers work in the corn or coffee plantations, we meet villagers on the paths along the lake.
Continuation by boat to San Juan la Laguna . Discovery of the small Mayan village; the women’s weavers’; cooperative opens its doors to explain the techniques of natural colouring and traditional weaving. We also appreciate the naive paintings that represent scenes of daily life in the region.
NB: Travelling on board public taxis that serve the small villages bordering Lake Atitlan (tickets included, trips every 30 minutes). Living the daily life of a Mayan family at Lake Atitlan :
The Tzutuhil indigenous people are one of the 21 Mayan peoples of Guatemala. They are present in only a handful of villages southwest of Lake Atitlan. Welcome by a family from the village and participation in daily life. Depending on the season, it may be a matter of destemming the corn, drying the coffee beans, accompanying the grandfather on his cultivated plot. . . A beautiful experience of sharing.
Preparation of the meal and dinner with the family. Overnight stay with a local resident.
Day 6 : San Juan la Laguna
Visit Santiago Atitlan and discover a curious syncretic cult. Somewhere between good and bad, Maximón , the smoking God of Guatemala is feared as much as he is idolized. The villagers offer him gifts in the form of cigarettes, alcohol or money.
Return to Panajachel and spend the rest of your afternoon at leisure in the small town. Option included: private boat transfers on Lake Atitlán. Option included : english speaking local guide. Mayan immersion in San Juan la Laguna
Free morning with the host family. Walk in the village with a family member. The women’s weavers’; cooperative opens its doors to explain the techniques of natural cotton dyeing and traditional weaving.
Traditional lunch with local people.
Overnight stay at the hotel Dos Mundos Panajachel.
Day 7 : Panajachel
Lake Atitlan Reserve Tour:
Take a walk along intrepid trails and across suspension bridges amongst lush vegetation where you can see many different species of birds and even spider monkeys! Discover a butterfly sanctuary and admire the array of colors in the afternoon sun.
Archeological Site of Iximché:
Then, travel to the Mayan site of Iximché, capital of the Mayas Kaqchikel who allied themselves with the Spanish settlers facing the Quiché Maya. The conquistadors established the first Spanish city of the country, but the Kaqchikels revolted and burned the city in 1562. The site is sometimes the place of Mayan rites practiced by shamans and locals.
Transfer to Guatemala City . Overnight stay at the hotel Stofella.
Day 8 : Guatemala City
Private transfer to Copán in Honduras.
In the afternoon, discover the archaeological site of Copán in Honduras, close to the border with Guatemala. The city enjoyed an important cultural and scientific influence at its peak in the 7th century. Its baroque style, its sculptures and its finely ornamented stelae make it one of the most spectacular Mayan cities. You can also enjoy a spot of bird watching on the site.
Option included : english speaking local guide in Copan. Overnight stay at the hotel Casa de café.
Day 9 : Copan
Return to Guatemala and travel to Quirigua. Visit of the archaeological site in the Motagua Valley. Quirigua was an important and respected city during the Mayan classical period (200 – 900 AD). The site is particularly renowned for the beauty of its stelae, the highest reaching 10. 70 metres high and weighing 65 tonnes.
Continuation to Puerto Barrios . The Caribbean atmosphere is starting to make itself felt.
Transfer by boat to Livingston (private boat). We reach by sea the village of Livingston (30mn). Part of the population is of Garifuna ethnicity, descendants of black slaves. The contrast with the rest of the country is striking. Overnight stay at the hotel Villa Caribe.
Day 10 : Livingston
Coconut trees, white sand & Caribbean
Departure in the morning by boat to an isolated beach near the border with Belize. It takes 45 minutes to 1 hour of navigation to reach the Playa Blanca site. On the program of this excursion: relaxing on the white sand and swimming in the turquoise water of the Caribbean.
Return to Livingston in the early afternoon. Afternoon free.
NB: 4 USD to be paid on site for access to the private beach.
Overnight stay at the hotel Villa Caribe.
Day 11 : Livingston
Nice boat trip on the Río Dulce . Crossing a canyon and swimming in hot springs. We reach the village of Río Dulce where many sailboats come to drop anchor. Visit of Fort San Felipe , built in the 17th century to stop recurrent pirate attacks.
After the visit you will continue to Tikal , where you will spend the night in the jungle.
Option included : private boat from Livingston to Río Dulce. Overnight stay at the hotel Jungle Lodge Tikal.
Day 12 : Tikal
Sunrise in Tikal
Early departure (4:30 am) for Tikal. The impressive Mayan city built in the 4th century BC reached its peak between the 3rd and 9th centuries AD.
We enter the site in the darkness to climb the highest pyramid and witness the awakening of the jungle: first the howler monkeys whose cries can be heard several kilometers away, then the birds that cross the twilight. The light rises over the tropical forest, gradually revealing the pyramids that surround us.
Return to the hotel for breakfast. Then visit the archaeological site. Some 3,000 structures emerge from the rainforest in a mystical atmosphere. The temple of the great jaguar faces that of the masks in the great square, the nerve center of the city. At 65 meters high, the Snake Temple was the highest building in the New World until the 19th century.
Nature is not to be outdone, engulfing the traveler who enters the reserve. We are watching for spider monkeys, pheasants, coatis, toucans and other multicoloured parrots. The screams of howler monkeys can be heard from several kilometers away. The traveler is surprised by the smell of vines and roots.
Transfer to Flores located on a peninsula of Lake Peten Itza.
Option included : english speaking local guide in Tikal. Overnight stay at the hotel Isla de Flores. Premium Room.
Day 13 : Flores
Departure for Yaxha , green water in Mayan language. The city is located on the shores of Lake Yaxha, which served to supply fresh water to the Mayan population. Walk on the marked trails of this large and rarely visited site. Do not miss the view of the lake from the Temple de las Manos Rojas.
After lunch, transfer to Flores airport. Option included : english speaking local guide in Yaxha. National flight Flores – Guatemala (flight time to be confirmed). City Tour Guatemala City
Panoramic discovery of the historic centre of Guatemala City. Visit of the giant relief map, a technical feat of the beginning of the century that covers 1800m2 and gives an excellent overview of the country and its volcanoes. Visit of the Anthropology Museum and the Ixchel Museum (indigenous costumes). Option included : french speaking tour guide. Overnight stay at the hotel Stofella.