On this tour you will have the opportunity to visit some of the finest Mayan archeological sites in the country. The tour begins with with a visit to Tikal and Yaxha followed with journey up the Pasion river to visit Aquateca. In the second leg of the tour we will travel back by road visiting Quirigua with its specatular stelae and carved altars dating from the post-classic period. We will visit Lake Atitlan where we will meet the ecologists working to save this complex lake basin, where indigionous groups, tourism and wildlife meet. Our journey ends in Antiqua where we will visit Finca El Pilar, a private nature reserve with great walks, a chance to unwind and enjoy the restauraunts, coffee houses and artisan crafts of Antiqua.
Arrive Guatemala city, pick up at airport, staying at Casa Carmel
Visit Kaminal Juyu archaeological site and Museum. Kaminaljuyu, is one of the region’s few surviving Mayan complexes of earthen construction. It is a unique example of exposed adobe architecture in the tropical highland. Kaminaljuyu, or “place of the ancestors” in the Mayan K'iche' language, was rediscovered in the early twentieth century. Encroachment from the ever-expanding Guatemala City prompted its placement on the 2010 World Monuments Watch. Late afternoon stroll in the city centre, the old part of Guatemala City.
We will be visiting the Botanical Gardens of Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. Interesting gardens with mainly native trees, and herbaceous plants. They also have some species from other areas outside Mesoamerica. After lunch we will visit Museo Popol Vuh; this museum has one of the major collections of Maya art in the world. It is located on the campus of the Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Zone 10, Guatemala City and is known for its extensive collection of pre-Columbian and colonial art of the Maya culture. The Museum is well known for its funerary ceramic art, the collection includes a variety of portable stone sculptures, especially from the Preclassic period, and from the coast and adjacent highlands.
Flight to Flores and Day trip to Tikal archaeological site. We will visit the site of Tikal. Tikal is Guatemala's most famous and most impressive Mayan archaeological site, with more than 4000 structures. The most striking feature of Tikal is its towering, steep-sided temples, rising to heights of more than 44m, but what distinguishes it is its jungle setting. Its many plazas have been cleared of trees and vines, its temples uncovered and partially restored, but as you walk from one building to another you pass beneath the dense canopy of rainforest by stepping softly you’re more likely to spot monkeys, agoutis, foxes and ocellated turkeys.
Stay in El Remate.
Day visit to archaeological site of Yaxha. The Classic Maya sites of Yaxhá, Nakum and El Naranjo form a triangle that is the basis for a national park covering more than 370 sq. km and bordering the Parque Nacional Tikal to the west. Yaxhá, the most visited of the trio, stands on a hill between two sizable lakes, Lago Yaxhá and Lago Sacnab. The setting, the sheer size of the site, the number of excellently restored buildings and the abundant jungle flora and fauna all make it particularly worth visiting.
Day trip to Aguateca. Aguateca is an adventurous destination deep in the rain forest of Guatemala. We will embark on an hour boat trip until you reach this ancient Mayan kingdom. You will travel via The Pasion River which is one of the most interesting combinations of waterways, natural beauty and archaeological interest. Aguateca is a Mayan archaeological site located in northern Petexbatun Basin, in the department of Petén. The first settlements at Aguateca date to the Late Preclassic period (300 BC - AD 350). The centre was occupied from about 200 B.C. until about 800 A.D., when the city was attacked and ransacked. Because the city was rapidly abandoned by its population, assemblages were left scattered on the floors of elite residences. Horizontal excavation of these residences has revealed ancient elite activity and household level craft production areas. Aguateca sits on top of a 90 metres (300 ft) tall limestone bluff, creating a highly defensible position. This steep escarpment overlooks Petexbatun Lagoon
Free Morning, afternoon visit to Cerro Cahui. This Nature Reserve comprises 7.3 sq km of subtropical forest rising up from the lake over limestone terrain. This nature reserve offers mildly strenuous hiking and excellent wildlife watching, with paths to some brilliant lookout points. More than 20 mammal species roam the reserve, including spider and howler monkeys, white-tailed deer and the elusive Mesoamerican tapir. Bird life is rich and varied, with the opportunity to spot toucans, woodpeckers and the famous ocellated turkey, a big bird resembling a peacock. Trees include mahogany, cedar, ramón, and cohune palm, along with many types of bromeliads, ferns and orchids. A network of loop trails ascend the hill to three lookout points, affording views of the whole lake and of Laguna Sacpetén to the east.
Depart El Remate early and fly back to Guatemala City, have lunch, then drive to Santiago Atitlan where we will be staying.
Visit Cedracc in San Antonia Chacaya. CEDRACC stands for Centro de Educación para el Desarrollo Rural y Adaptación al Cambio Climático (CEDRACC). It was created in 2013 by the NGO Vivamos Mejor. The NGO Works mainly in the Lake Atitlan basin with the natural environment and with the local communities, delivering sustainable development projects.
Santiago Atitlan market and traditions. During the morning, we would enjoy market day at the main plaza with mayan-tuzuhil groups selling their products and handcrafts and a visit to Maximom pagan saint. Afternoon free to enjoy Posada Santiago swimming pool and outdoor Jacuzzi. Evening meal in Las Lagartijas restaurant.
Hike to the local nature reserve of IKITIW. This reserve comprises areas of secondary forest but as you walk along the trail you get deeper into the cloud forest. This will give you an inside view of a High Altitiude Tropical forest or “Cloud Forest” with its immense biodiversity of flora, and if you are lucky, fauna.
Depart for Antigua. Antigua Guatemala is a UNESCO world heritage city. It has cobbled streets, Spanish style churches, convents and buildings. It has plenty of museums, restaurants and cultural activities going on. Afternoon free to explore the city.
After breakfast, we will travel to nearby Finca El Pilar, a private nature reserve. Approx. travel time 20 minutes. We will hike the nature trail, which will take us through semi-tropical montane forest and we will see some of the native flora plus views of Antigua. The trail is 2 km (1.5 miles) long and requires a medium to hard effort with steps in places; there is scope for a shorter loop. After the hike, we will travel to the neighbouring village of San Cristobal El Alto to have lunch there. You can visit the organic allotments and orchid greenhouse plus be rewarded with views of Fuego and Acatenango volcanoes while having lunch outside. Free afternoon.
Shuttle to airport. Depart to UK