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ULTIMATE GUATEMALA

Highlighting
Guatemala City
Chichicastenango
Lake Atitlan
Antigua
Tikal
and more!

15 Days

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Locally Hosted Independent Tour

Suggested Departure Day:
Saturday

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ITINERARY (Subject to change without notice):

Day 1 - Saturday - USA - Guatemala:  Depart your USA gateway for flight to Guatemala City. Upon arrival, meeting and transfer to the Hotel Camino Real.

Day 2 - Sunday – Guatemala City:  Today your host will provide a guided tour of the present day capital, a mix of the new and traditional in architecture, culture and ambiance.   Highlights will include the major downtown sites of the Parque Central (main plaza) where as colonial Spanish tradition would dictate, the plaza is flanked by the Cathedral, National Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace. You will also have a guided tour of the major museums: Archaeology & Ethnology Museum with its very good collection of Maya artifacts, including a scale model of Tikal and interesting displays of Indian culture; the Ixchel Museum featuring an excellent collection of thousands of samples of handwoven textiles, plus some painting and jewelry displays as well; the Popol Vuh Museum has a large exquisite collection of pre-Columbian jewelry, artifacts, colonial art, religious art, ceramics and antiques, most of the items came from a private collection. Lunch will be included at one of the city’s most popular restaurants. (B/L)

Day 3 - Monday – Guatemala City-Panajachel/Lake Atitlan:  Today the drive to Lake Atitlan will take you down to the southern Pacific Highway. The area is surrounded by large sugar cane plantations.  At one of them, Finca El Baul, while preparing the soil for planting, numerous Maya artifacts were uncovered, some have been transported to the small museum at La Democracia, others have been left unmarked under a palapa. There is a hilltop site (believed to be an unexcavated great temple platform) which has been used by locals for ancient rituals for over 1400 years.  En route, at La Democracia, you will see enormous basalt carved heads, very much resembling those of the ancient Olmecs near Veracruz. Arrive at Hotel Casa Palopo-Atitlan for a two night stay. (B)

Day 4 - Tuesday – Lake Atitlan:  Full day visiting some of the villages dotting the lake; among them Santa Catarina and San Antonio, while not nearly as “gringotized” as Panajachel, they have a more indigenous feel about them.  The former noted for it’s fine textiles, the later for its pottery works and whose hillside terraces harvest onions, anise, corn, and beans.  Traditional dress for women in San Antonio is red shirts, wool skirts with a turban-style hat. The largest of these villages, Santiago de Atitlan, is across the lake and reached by boat. As with other villages in the country, Santiago  also has a traditional dress and color scheme; for men it is white and purple striped pants and the women wear intricately embroidered blouses (huipiles) and a tightly wound halo of red cloth on their heads.  The market here is rather authentic too. Lunch will be included at a charming “posada” prior to returning back to the other side of the lake and your hotel. (B/L)

Day 5 - Wednesday – Panajachel/Lake Atitlan-Chichicastenango: Leisurely morning to take in the spectacular vistas of this lake. At the appropriate time you will be driven less than two hours deep into the heartland of the Quiche Maya and its seat, Chichicastenango. Since the 1200’s, “Chichi” has been a major trading center.  Today it hosts a twice weekly market day (Thursdays and Sundays) that is the most colorful one in Central America. We come to spend the before the market day as activities begin the night before and daylight. Your hotel is the Hotel Santo Tomas.  (B)

Day 6 - Thursday – Chichicastenango-Quezaltenango: The market awakens at the crack of dawn.   With your guide, walk the main plaza now teeming with hundreds of stalls and merchants selling the wares from throughout the countryside. The churches of El Calvario and Santo Tomas flank either end of the square. Santo Tomas, built in 1540 on the site of a Maya temple, is revered to this day. Only the Maya are allowed to walk up and sit on the steps leading in. Non-Indians enter the church through a side door. Across the plaza is El Calvario, smaller and used exclusively by the Indians for prayers and services, both Christian and otherwise. Throughout the market area the aroma of copal incense pervades. In the afternoon, drive about a hundred kilometers (about 2.5 hours) to the, Quezaltenango, second largest city and a major trading center for the western highlands. Hotel stay will be at the Pension Bonifaz.  (B)

Day 7 - Friday – Quezaltenango-Antigua:  This morning you will visit the steep mountainside village of San Francisco El Alto, surrounded by tall volcanoes and pine forests. From the colonial church there is a stunning view of the valley below. And, if it is Friday, you will witness one of the most spectacular market days in the country, from selling and buying of livestock and produce to intricate designed geometric woolen blankets. Continue your journey to Almolongo a vegetable growing area with incredible looking produce. Then on to visit San Andres Xecul and its colorful church decorated with extraordinary figurines. Leave the western highlands.  Lunch will be included en route and then head for the colonial capital at Antigua and the Meson Panza Verde. (B/L)

Day 8 - Saturday – Antigua:  A full day with your guide, you'll enjoy a colonial walking tour of the old capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala, one of three major centers of power during the Spanish era, Antigua is a treasure house of colonial architecture and charm. . Destroyed by a devastating earthquake in the 1700's, it has been declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO, a Historical Monument of the Americas and all present day construction must reflect the colonial era. Lunch will be included in one of the city’s most famed restaurants. (B/L)

Day 9 - Sunday – Antigua:  This morning your guide will take you to the outskirts of Antigua, the village of Jocotenango and it's interesting pink and white façade church. Then cross over to the Azotea Coffee Farm and museums. Here learn about the  importance of coffee in Guatemala's history. In addition to the guided tour of the farm, visit the museums exhibiting traditional Maya music and costumes. Afternoon at leisure to explore at your own pace.                                                                                  (B)

Day 10 - Monday – Antigua-Coban: Today you will drive north to the department of Alta Verapaz. On the way stop at the Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera Nature reserve, a.k.a. the Biotopo del Quetzal, a sanctuary for Guatemala’s national bird, the Quetzal. While quite elusive, reports are that increasing numbers have been spotted, especially from February -September. In addition, the preserve has well-maintained trails that wind through this beautiful, lush cloud forest where you may be able to spot many other birds, as well as monkeys. Lunch will be provided at a nearby Posada before continuing on to Coban for the night and dinner at Casa Duranta.  (B/L/D)

Day 11 - Tuesday - Coban-Candelaria Caves:  Today we will continue north towards the Peten region, stopping at the incredible Candelarias Caves. These caves are in the surrounding limestone hills where the Rio Candelario goes underground. The caves are said to be 22 KM long with five entrances, believed to be the largest cavern system with an underground river system in Latin America. Typical passages are 20-30 meters wide with a height of 10-60 meters. The Maya caves were sacred, the meeting places between heaven and earth, the entrance to the underworld. The present day Q'eqchi Maya still come to pray in the Candelaria Caves. Today it is a National Cultural Patrimony of the country and a national park. The night will be spent at the Candelaria Cave Lodge (NOTE: this is a comfortable but basic lodge without private facilities, but the best in the area situated between the Caves and Cancuen).  (B/L/D)

Day 12 - Wednesday – Candelaria Caves-Punta de Chimino: Today you will head towards Petexbatun Lake, on the way stop at the marvelous site of Cancuen. For decades authorities considered this a minor Maya site. Not until very recently, with the aid of Vanderbilt University, did it’s true importance surface.  With 11 courtyards in three stories and 170 rooms, the wealth of the inhabitants was revealed.  The Royal Palace alone is about the size of Tikal’s Central Acropolis! The city thrived for hundreds of years, without warfare. It’s wealth grew via its thriving commerce and neighboring alliances. Archaeologists believe the work being done here will rewrite Maya history. Continue on to Sayaxche where you will board the boat to Punta de Chimino.  Overnight at Chiminos Island Lodge.   (B/L/D)

Day 13 - Thursday – Punta de Chimino-El Remate/Tikal area:  Head towards the crown jewel of the Classic Maya period, Tikal National Park. Board the boat to Sayaxche and stop at another seldom visited site, Ceibal. Here you find superbly carved stelae of the late Classic Maya era, especially those that circle the main plaza. They clearly reveal "northern Maya" influence  by depicting Mexican clothing, facial features and design motifs. Box lunch provided and on to La Lancha. (B/L)

Day 14 - Friday – Tikal area:  This morning you will be driven to visit Ixpanpajul Nature Reserve. This park has over 200 species of trees, over 150 species of birds and about  40 species of mammals. You can choose between a walk on hanging bridges (one suspension bridge is over 200 meters long) and winding paths, or a more adventurous swing line tour to explore this tropical paradise. Afterwards, travel to Flores, the island capital of the region, for a leisurely lunch.  In the afternoon drive towards the Belizean border for a visit to Yaxha National Park. Enjoy a guided tour of this lesser visited yet truly atmospheric site, reminiscent of what Tikal probably looked like 50 years ago. Tour of the site ends at sunset on top of the main temple with plenty of opportunity to see & hear howler monkeys and a variety bird life. Enjoy a spectacular sunset view over the rainforest canopy and Lake Yaxha from the main temple before returning to your hotel, the Camino Real Guatemala.  (B/L)

Day 15 - Saturday - Guatemala City - USA:   At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the international airport in Guatemala City for your departure flight to your home city. (B)


RATES and DETAILS:

SAMPLE LAND RATE PER PERSON: (Rates subject to change without notice)
YEAR Single Occupancy Twin Occupancy - P/P Triple Occupancy - P/P
2017 Request $7,500 to $9,500 Request
2018 Estimate 10% increase
Plus Air fares and USA Departure Taxes
PAYMENTS: By credit card; special form required & must carry Card Holder's signature
Deposit - Per Person 2nd deposit - Per Person Full Payment Due
$1000 in order to confirm To complete 30% deposit
upon confirmation of all space
65 days prior departure
CHANGES:
After reservations confirmed If new documents are required
$100 per change $100 per change + $100 re-issue documents
CANCELLATIONS: (Exact fees depend on room-cabin occupancy)
Cancelled Between Up to 91 days 89 to 61  days 60 to 31 days 30 to 00 days
Fees Per Person $1000 30% 50% 100%
TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE: Highly recommended.
RATE INCLUDES:
  • Hotel accommodations with hotel taxes and service charges
  • Meals as indicated, table d'hôte basis
  • Transfers as indicated, with English speaking guide
  • Luggage handling at airports
  • Sightseeing as indicated, with English speaking guide
  • Surface and overland travel as indicated
RATE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
  • Air fares
  • USA and Foreign airport departure taxes
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips to drivers, guides, hotel bellboys, ship's personnel
  • Meals not specifically indicated as included
NOTE: Information was last updated January 2, 2017. Information & rates subject to change.
Responsibilities, Terms & Conditions