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|Itinerary at a Glance
Best of Guatemala & Honduras
|1||Depart USA/ Guatemala City
|2||Antigua & Panajachel|
|4||Lake Atitlan, Santiago,
Santa Catarina & Guatemala City
|5||Guatemala City & Copan, Honduras|
|6||Copan, Quirigua & Puerto Barrios|
|7||Puerto Barrios, Rio Dulce & Peten|
|8||Sayaxche & Ceibal|
|9||Yaxha & Topoxte|
|10||Tikal & Guatemala City|
|Style||Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departs||Miami (MIA) (flight schedule)|
|Highlights||Antigua, Copan, Quirigua & Tikal.|
|Included in the Price||
|What to Expect||This fast-paced, escorted tour involves a significant amount of walking or hiking, often on uneven terrain, requiring a high level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the trip. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.|
Join Friendly Planet on an extraordinary journey to the Best of Guatemala & Honduras. From Antigua in Guatemala to Copan in Honduras, you’ll visit four UNESCO World Heritage sites on this unforgettable tour. Experience the culture and nature of Guatemala, the heart of the ancient Mayan world. Explore the Spanish colonial city of Antigua and spend time on the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan. Visit the colorful markets of Chichicastenango and share a lunch with an indigenous family.
Then, cross the border into Honduras and visit the amazing temples and terraces of the Mayan ruins of Copan. Learn about sustainable development of Mayan culture at the Ak-Tenamit community center on the Rio Dulce then continue to Flores and Tikal to see the impressive Mayan tombs and breathtaking views from the pyramids high above the jungle canopy.
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Day 1: Depart USA/Guatemala City & Antigua. Your exciting trip to Guatemala begins today as you depart for Guatemala City, the capital and largest city of Guatemala. Upon arrival, you'll be met and transferred to your hotel in Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Antigua is nestled between three volcanoes which make for picturesque backdrops to its colonial architecture. Tonight join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Accommodations: Camino Real Antigua. Dinner provided.
Day 2: Antigua & Panajachel. After breakfast, your day will begin exploring the cobblestone streets of Antigua. Visit the heart of the city, the Main Square & Central Park, from which all of the streets and avenues spread out in straight lines in a typical colonial style. Continue on to some of Antigua’s most important sites, including the Church of San Francisco, Cathedral and La Merced Church. Your tour will conclude with a stop at Antigua’s Jade Factory where you will see Mayan descendants carving the beautiful stones that were once sacred to their ancestors. Next, proceed to the town of Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan and enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Take advantage of the spectacular views of the sun setting behind the mountains and volcanoes surrounding this regal lake. Accommodations: Posada de Don Rodrigo Panajachel on Dec 6, 2013 depature, Hotel Atitlan on all others. Breakfast provided.
Day 3: Chichicastenango. This morning travel north to Chichicastenango, a village that is home to a large population of Maya Quiche Natives that are said to be the purest descendants of the ancient Mayan people. Here you will visit the largest open-air market in Guatemala. As you explore through the colorful market stalls, you will see vendors selling traditional Mayan textiles, pottery, woodcarvings and jewelry. Take a moment to visit the Church of Santo Tomas, which was built atop the ruins of a Pre-Colombian temple. After you’ve had the chance to experience the bustling market atmosphere of Chichicastenango, you will have the unique opportunity to share lunch with an indigenous family. From there you will travel to the top of a hill which overlooks the city. Nestled among trees at the summit is the rock carved face of Pascual Abaj, where you may see shamans performing ritual offerings and blessings to the gods of their ancestors. Continue back to Panajachel for overnight. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 4: Lake Atitlan, Santiago, Santa Catarina & Guatemala City. This morning, after breakfast, transfer to the pier on Lake Atitlan for a boat ride to Santiago. Here you will be able to observe the worship of Maximon, a local deity who is more feared than adored. He is represented by an effigy which smokes cigars and drinks spirits. You will see how pilgrims pray and present flower offerings to this pagan saint, as well as, alcohol, fruits, tobacco and money, in order to obtain the miracles of health, money and love. We will continue by boat to Santa Catarina, a subsistence agriculture community, also known for their magnificent blue textiles. After spending some time exploring this small village, we will continue across Lake Atitlan back to Panajachel to disembark and transfer back to Guatemala City. The balance of the day is at leisure. Accommodations: Westin Camino Real. Breakfast provided.
Day 5: Guatemala City & Copan, Honduras. Today, you will travel east from Guatemala City through the vast coffee and fruit plantations to the Honduran border. Continue to Copan, the most renowned archeological site in Honduras and UNSECO World Heritage Site. The abandoned ruins of Copan were discovered in 1570 by the Spanish explorer Diego Garcia de Palacio, however excavation of the site did not begin until the 19th century. The complex is surrounded by dense tropical vegetation and consists of several temples, plaza and terraces, the most significant of which is the Hieroglyphic Stairway. The monument features several thousand glyphs along sixty stone steps leading to the top of the structure. The text tells the story of the royal house of Copan and is the longest surviving text of the Mayan civilization. After you have explored the ruins of this mystical acropolis, you will be transferred to your nearby hotel and enjoy the evening at leisure. Accommodations: Hotel Marina Copan. Breakfast provided.
Day 6: Copan, Quirigua & Puerto Barrios. After breakfast this morning, transfer back to the Honduran border and continue to Quirigua, Guatemala, another UNSECO World Heritage Site. With a history closely intertwined with Copan, you will be able to see many similarities between the architecture of these two impressive ancient sites. However, unique to Quirigua are its famed sandstone monoliths scattered throughout the complex. These intricately carved giant spires can reach heights of more than 30 feet (10 meters). Other sculptures for which Quirigua is known are the Zoomorphs, six massive stone blocks carved in to fantastic figures, including the jaguar and crocodile. After a comprehensive tour of Quirigua, you will be transferred to Guatemala’s nearby Caribbean coast to the sea port town of Puerto Barrios on Amatique Bay. After lunch at the hotel, you will enjoy the evening at leisure. Here you can relax by the beach or the hotel’s pool or you could explore the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna culture for which this area is known. Accommodations: Amatique Bay Resort. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 7: Puerto Barrios, Rio Dulce & Peten. This morning embark on a boat ride across the Rio Dulce. Literally translated to the “Sweet River”, Rio Dulce connects Izabal Lake with the Caribbean Sea, spanning almost 30 miles ending at Amatique Bay. First, you will visit the Fort of San Felipe, a tiny fort built by the Spanish in 1652 to protect Lake Izabal from British pirates. Next, you will have the unique opportunity to visit a community called Ak-Tenamit located on the shores of the Rio Dulce. Ak-Tenamit is an indigenous community development organization that promotes long-term solutions to poverty through education, health, income generation and cultural programs. Here you will learn about the advancements of the indigenous communities of Guatemala and the sustainability of Mayan culture in an ever more globalized world. This afternoon, travel through the tropical landscapes of northern Guatemala on your way to Lake Peten Itza. Upon arrival, check into your lakeside hotel for the next three nights. Accommodations: Camino Real Tikal. Breakfast provided.
Day 8: Sayaxche & Ceibal. After breakfast, your day will begin traveling south-west to the small logging village of Sayaxche. From here, you will board a boat that will take you across the Passion River for a tour of the archeological site of Ceibal, including a boxed lunch. The largest site of its kind along the river, the Ceibal complex consists of more than 600 structures, including temples, palaces and a network of beautiful stone trails. Ceibal’s history spans nearly 2,000 years until it was mysteriously abandoned around 900 AD. After your exploration of this impressive complex, continue back to your hotel on Lake Peten Itza. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 9: Yaxha & Topoxte. Today, you will travel north-east to visit the ancient twin cities of Yaxha & Topoxte on Yaxha Lake. You will start your tour in Yaxha amongst the jungles on the lake’s shores. It is the only ancient Mayan site outside of Tikal with twin step pyramids. During the Classic Period of Mayan history, Yaxha thrived as one of the many stopping points between the metropolises of Copan and Tikal. During this time, the inhabitants of Yaxha developed the outpost of Topoxte, scattered across several islands on Lake Yaxha. You will travel by boat to visit these islands, which during the Post Classical era became the nexus of trade between the Yucatan and Guatemalan highlands, overshadowing its predecessor, Yaxha. After a morning of exploration, you will return to nearby San Jose de Peten to enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Breakfast provided.
Day 10: Tikal & Guatemala City. After breakfast this morning, you will travel about an hour north of Lake Peten Itza for a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Tikal, including lunch. The Tikal National Park houses more than 300 buildings, 200 altars and more than 100,000 varied objects. Located in the heart of the Mayan biosphere, Tikal is surrounded by an impressive tropical forest comprising an enormous amount of plant and animals species, including more than 300 bird species. The north acropolis, which fills the whole north side of the plaza, is one of the most complex structures in the entire Maya world. In traditional Maya style it was built and rebuilt on top of itself, and beneath the twelve temples that can be seen today are the remains of about a hundred other structures. As early as 100 BC, the Maya had constructed elaborate platforms supporting these temples and tombs. Your tour will take you to top of some of Tikal’s tallest pyramids, offering breathtaking views. As you look out over the jungle canopy, you will be able to see some of the amazing structures standing tall above the tree line. After a full day of exploration of Guatemala’s most famed Mayan site, transfer to the Mundo Maya Airport in Flores to board your evening flight back to Guatemala City. Accommodations: Westin Camino Real. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 11: Guatemala City/USA. After breakfast at the hotel, bid farewell to Guatemala as you are transferred to the airport to board your return flight to the USA. Breakfast provided.
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