When you list its assets, Guatemala seems to be one of the best travel destinations in Central America: the stunning Maya ruins at Tikal, the well-preserved colonial city of Antigua, a vibrant indigenous culture, active volcanoes, highland lakes, exotic wildlife.
One of the best of the best is Tikal: the greatest of the ruins left from the age of the Maya, whose accomplishments in the fields of medicine, mathematics and astronomy are a source of national pride and universal awe. We think Tikal is one of the most impressive ruins in the world (in a class with places like Machu Picchu in Peru or the Valley of the Kings in Egypt). Frankly, Tikal alone is worth the trip.
Day 1: Guatemala City- Antigua, Guatemala
Today when you arrive in Guatemala City, you will be met for private transfer (1-hour) to Antigua for check-in and overnight.
Constructed in harmony with the old colonial style and beauty, "El Mesón de María" provides a relaxed and refined atmosphere. The hotel is located in the heart of La Antigua Guatemala.
You will take delight in our long and beautiful corridors, soothing búcaros (fountains), numerous lounges and spaces to relax while admiring the Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango volcanoes that surround the valley.
Meson de Maria - Deluxe Room
Day 2: Antigua
Enjoy a half-day private guided walking tour of colonial Antigua today including visits to Iglesia San Francisco, the Cathedral and La Merced Church.
Antigua is one of Latin America's best-preserved colonial cities and home of some of Guatemala's most beautiful, traditional art. Cobblestone streets. Civilized central squares. Stylish hotels. Luxurious shops. Antigua's setting is unique and impressive. Nestled between three of Central America's most impressive volcanoes and surrounded by lush, evergreen forest, Antigua's charm and grace will touch your soul. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are free to enjoy Antigua's nightlife and scenery.
Meson de Maria - Deluxe Room
Day 3: Antigua- Lake Atitlan
Transfer to the scenic highlands of Lake Atitlán with a (unguided) visit to Solola Market en route.
Each highland village maintains its own traditional dress in the form of unique colors, styles, and patterns that are hand woven. Women's blouses are hand woven on a backstrap loom, and then decorated with appliqué and embroidery designs and motifs common to the weaver's village. Many of the motifs are traditional symbols with religious or historical significance.
On arrival at Hotel Atitlan, get acquainted with your new surroundings and enjoy the rest of the day doing whatever suits your fancy.
Hotel Atitlan, one of Guatemala's elite cadre of fine hotels, is situated in picturesque Panajachel Solola. This location is the heart of Lake Atitlan's most ethnically authentic peoples, yet conveniently accessible to the most fashionable part of the Riviera.
An optional helicopter transfer (extra fee) to Casa Palopo is available for those who wish to see Guatemala's landscape from a different perspective. In flight, enjoy incredible views of volcanoes, unbeatable views of Lake Atitlán, and small farms and hillside villages that aren't easy to observe from the main road. The helicopter transfer from Antigua to Casa Palopo takes about 30 minutes, under normal weather conditions (note check-in time is 4PM)
Hotel Atitlan - Standard Room
Day 4: Lake Atitlan
Full-day Lake Atitlan tour. Board a boat to travel across the lake, first stopping at Santa Catarina (5mins boat transfer) for a visit of this small lakeside village famous for its blue & purple textiles. The boat then continues across the lake to visit a village such as San Pedro (30mins) in the shadow of San Pedro volcano where guests can see everyday Maya life in progress. Finally we head south, to the village of Santiago, located on a lagoon that lies between the towering volcanoes of Toliman and San Pedro.
Santiago clings to the traditional lifestyle of the Tz'utuhil Maya. The women of the town still weave their blouses (or huipiles) with brilliantly colored flocks of birds and bouquets of flowers embroidered on them. First enjoy lunch and at the Posada Santiago and then tour of Santiago with a local, English-speaking guide.
There is a burgeoning art and gallery scene here. The town's rich and colorful history seems to be depicted in the colorful paintings produced by the local artists, most of whom keep to the traditional - almost primitive - Mayan style.
Visit the several-centuries-old church at the center of the town, which dates from the time when Santiago was an important, commercial town, and sits on a site sacred to the Tz'utuhil people.
The main point of interest in Santiago is to visit the fascinating Maya God "Maximon" who locals bring offerings of alcohol & cigarettes in order to secure their prayers and wishes. Local shaman can often be seen here performing rituals for local Maya people. Late afternoon, return to Hotel Atitlan.
Hotel Atitlan - Standard Room
Day 5: Chichicastenango- Peten
Transfer (1-hour) to the small town of Chichicastenango for a guided visit of the markets.
Often engulfed by mist, this little town is made up of narrow, cobblestone streets and red-tiled roofs and seems almost magical. Though isolated, "Chichi" has always been an important market town. Villagers throughout the region would walk for many hours carrying their wares to participate in the commerce here. Today, though many traders arrive by bus, others still arrive on foot. When they reach the market the night before, they lay down their blankets, set out their wares, and sleep for the night in one of the arcades near the market.
Besides the raucous, colorful market, Chichi natives are famous for their adherence to pre-Christian religious beliefs and ceremonies. It is possible to see some of these old rites in and around the Church of Santo Tomas and at the shrine of Pascal Abaj on the outskirts of town. Your guide will escort you through the market, providing excellent background on the history of the textiles you see, the living culture that typifies Guatemala's indigenous people, and assisting you in making wise purchase decisions.
Early this afternoon, transfer to Guatemala City (3-hours) in time for a late afternoon flight to Flores.
On arrival, you will be met, assisted with your bags for lodge transfer to Camino Real Tikal.
Welcome to the jungle! In the lush Peten jungle, the Camino Real Tikal provides a unique opportunity to explore one of the world's most spectacular archaeological sites and relax in an unspoiled natural paradise.
The Hotel is part of the Bio top "Cerro Cahuí" and consists on 72 bungalows overlooking Lake Petén Itza. The hotel is a beach resort that offers water sports, bicycling and archaeological exploration. All 72 luxury accommodation at the Camino Real Tikal are housed in thatched-roof bungalows and offer modern comforts like air-conditioning, direct-dial phones, minibar, cable TV, and private balconies with a great view of Peten Itza Lake.
Camino Real Tikal - Standard Room
Day 6: Peten- Yaxha Ruins
Half-day tour of the seldom-visited ruins of Yaxha. Yaxhá means "Green Water" in Mayan and is located 50 miles from Flores, in the jungle beside the island of Topoxté. Topoxté and Yaxhá are separated by a lake. The waterways near the site were considered to be spiritual to the Maya possibly because they are the color of Jade. The city is comprised of two sectors of rectangular structures, a double acropolis, laid out in such a manner that they form streets and plazas.
This 'city plan' is very unlike other cities built in the Classic period, and combined with the fact that the influence of Teoatihuacán is present in the stelae and the architecture, it is thought that the street design was adopted from that place. The hieroglyphic inscriptions indicate that it was inhabited sometime between the Pre-classic and Post-classic.
Return to Nitun this afternoon.
Camino Real Tikal - Standard Room
Day 7: Peten- Tikal- Guatemala City
Half-day excursion to Tikal National Park. One of Mesoamerica's greatest Mayan cities and archaeological sites, Tikal is even more special because it is set in the rainforest. Noisy howler monkeys, brightly colored parrots, and noisy toucans, among other creatures, live among the trees surrounding this most hallowed ground. Settled around 700 BC, Tikal is set in a low hill that provided relief and stability from the low-lying swampy ground that surrounds the area. This must have been appealing to the Maya, along with the abundance of flint, the valuable stone used to make clubs, spear points, arrowheads, and knives.
Transfer back to Flores your afternoon flight to Guatemala City. On arrival, you are met, assisted with your bags and transferred to your hotel for overnight.
Camino Real Guatemala City - Standard Deluxe Room
Day 8: Depart Guatemala City
Transfer to the Guatemala airport for departure.
Depart any day! Contact an iExplore Adventure Consultant for details.
$2,795 per person, double occupancy.
$4,050 Solo Traveler.
$550 Single Room Supplement.
Prices for your dates of travel may vary- please contact iExplore for an exact quote. Quoted prices are based on current rates of exchange, tariffs and taxes as of September, 2009. iExplore reserves the right to increase tour prices to cover increased costs, tariffs and taxes received after prices are published, and to reflect fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. iExplore is under no obligation to give breakdown costs involved in any package.
· Airport meet and assist on arrival (outside baggage claim)
· Accommodations as indicated with breakfast daily
· Meals as indicated (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
· Private transfers throughout (except at Camino Real Tikal, which may be shared with other guests - maximum 12 guests at the lodge)
International airfare; optional helicopter transfer to Atitlán
Meals and sightseeing not mentioned
Alcoholic beverages; items of a personal nature (room service, communications charges, spa services, laundry, etc.)
Optional Pacaya Volcano Hiking excursion
Optional Helicopter ride from Antigua to Lake Atitlan
Porterage at airports; gratuities to guides, transfer drivers, and hotel chamber maids
Airport departure taxes
Travel / cancellation insurance
Visa fees (if applicable)
Note: Prices do not apply over Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's- please call for pricing over these periods.
Helicopter transfer: additional $550 per person (x 2) or additional $275 per person (x 4)
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.