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Copan, Honduras


Exploring The World of the Maya
El Salvador
and Guatemala
17 Days

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Tikal, Guatemala

Locally Hosted Independent Tour

Suggested Departure Day:

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ITINERARY (Subject to change without notice):


Day 1 -   Wednesday - USA - San Pedro Sula-Copan:  Depart the USA on afternoon flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred by road some three hours to the little town of Copan Ruinas and your Hotel Marina Copan. En route you will stop at the “satellite” site of “El Puente” – recently excavated and much smaller than the fabled Copan (NOTE: The site of El Puente may be visited en route back to the airport on Day04, depending on flight arrival and departure)

Day 2 - Thursday - Copan (Quirigua):  Today your host will drive you across the border into Guatemala to visit the World Heritage Site and Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO at Quirigua. Located in the midst of the Izabal banana region, this is one of the smallest of the ancient Maya sites. However, its incredible array of exquisitely carved stelae, the largest found so far is 30 feet tall, makes this a unique site. In addition there are small temples as well as stone carvings of mythological animals. Box lunch will be provided before returning to Copan. (B/L)

Day 3 - Friday - Copan:  Copan Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. Often described as the “Athens or Paris” of the ancient Maya world, the site was first discovered by Diego Garcia de Palacio in 1570.  There was a dynastic sequence of 17 rulers of Copan, the most noted being “18-Rabbit,” at it height it was believed to have been home to some 200,000 inhabitants within a 24 square mile area. Here too, you find 21 intricately carved stelae, as well as the Great Hieroglyphic Staircase, the longest text ever carved into stone by the Maya (63 steps with over 2500 hieroglyphs); a pyramid with carved mythical creatures, ball courts and plazas. In 1996 the Copan Sculpture Museum was open within the site with the colorful full scale model of the Rosalina Temple as it’s centerpiece.       Continue less than 2-KM away to what was believed to have been the residential quarters of the Maya nobility, the site at Las Sepultras. For lunch, visit the 100-year old Hacienda San Lucas on a hill overlooking the Copan ruins and the town. Afterwards, on to visit the ruins at Los Sapos (The Toads, as the carvings appear to be toads), nad is believe to have been the “birthing” place for Maya women. (B/L)

Day 4 - Saturday - Copan - San Pedro Sula - San Salvador: This morning, before you leave, there will be an opportunity to visit a local coffee farm. At the farm, you will be able to see the entire process of coffee from seedling to harvesting to processing. You then will be transferred to the airport at San Pedro Sula, for the short flight to El Salvador where you will be met and taken to the Zona Rosa and your Hilton Princess. In the late afternoon you local host will take you on a tour of the highlights of this charming laid-back capital including the International Fair Grounds, the National Museum, National Palace, National University, Cathedral and Cuscatlan Park. Then on to  one of the city’s most popular restaurants  for a typical Salvadorean dinner and their famed “pupusas” stuffed pies. (B/D)

Day 5 - Sunday - San Salvador:  Spend a full day visiting the major archaeological sites of the country. The newest addition to UNESCOS’s World Heritage Sites (inscribed in 1993), is Joya de Ceren. A complete explanation of what is being referred to as the “Pompeii” of the Maya world will be given. Once a farming community, the site was completely buried by ash of a volcanic eruption around 600 AD. Excavations reveal remains in excellent condition and give an insight into the daily lives of the ancient Maya. A bit west of Joya de Ceren, just off of the Pan American Highway, lie a group of low excavated structures known as “San Andres.” From there continue further west to what some consider the most impressive site in the country, the ruins at Tazumal. The site has been occupied since 5000 BC and believed to have been inhabited by the Pipil Indians, reaching its height around 980 AD. (B/L)

Day 6 - Monday -  San Salvador - Belize City - New River Area:  Transfer for your flight to Belize City.  Upon arrival, after immigrations and customs, you will proceed directly to the northern area of the country. A stop will be made at the country’s first archaeological site, Altun-Ha, once a great city believed to have been a trading center that spanned over 20 square miles.  There are 275 structures plus what scientist believe to be up to 300 unexcavated Palaces and pyramids surround two central plazas. It was here that the largest carved jade figure, Jade Head,  was found. Lunch will be provided en route to your lodge on the New River, Lamanai Outpost Lodge. (B/L)

Day 7 - Tuesday - New River area:  Morning visit to the only Mayan enclave built near a river bank, Lamanai,  “Submerged Crocodile.”  Probably inhabited as far back as 3,500 years ago, the first buildings date from around 700 B.C.. The tallest with a height of 112 feet might well have been the tallest Maya structure of its day. There are over 700 mapped structures, the most notable are the Temple of the Mask, Jaguar Temple and the Lord Smoking Shell stelae. Afternoon at leisure. (B)

Day 8 - Wednesday - New River Area:  Today enjoy a leisurely “dawn” canoe trip for an opportunity to view the various bird species  of the area along with other flora and fauna of the rain forest. In the afternoon there will be a guided walking tour to discover some of the tropical forest’s  most fascinating secrets, herbs, plants used by the ancients for medicinal purposes. (B)

Day 9 - Thursday - New River Area - Gallon Jug Area:  Your local host will drive you west, some 1.5 hours to the area known as “Gallon Jug” (so named in 1943 by the foreman of the Belize Estates Company when he found 3-gallon jugs near his home), surrounded by 250,000 acres of steaming jungle,  you come to the   ‘manicured” site known as Chan Chich (Kaxil Uinich, “Little Bird.”) This Maya site has two levels of plazas, each with its own temples and unexcavated mounds. After years of remoteness, known only to the  logger, pot farmer and grave robber, it was rediscovered in 1986.  The property’s current owner built 12-thatched roofed cabanas on one of the plazas. Cleared trails now run through the forest with daily sightings of ocellated  turkeys, deer, peccary, spider monkeys, and with luck, puma, tapir and even jaguar.  This afternoon you will have a guided walking tour along these trails. (B)

Day 10 - Friday - Gallon Jug Area:  In the morning  visit a rather large Maya known as “Punta Cacao” (so named after the logger’s road), best reached by horseback, but one can come within a 30-minutes hike off the main road Afternoon will be at leisure (B)

Day 11 - Saturday - Gallon Jug Area - Cayo District/Mountain Pine Ridge Area:  From the property’s private airstrip, fly by small charter aircraft south to Central Farms (near Georgeville on the Western Highway), where you will be met and driven to the Guatemala border area for a visit to the Maya sites Cahel Pech, El Pilar and Xunantunich. A short distance from the town of San Igancio lies the medium sized, but impressive site of Cahel Pech (“Place of Ticks”), first discovered in the 1950’s, it has 34 structures within its 3 acres. Also visit El Pilar Archaeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna, a 94 acre site on the border with Guatemala, has been left largely untouched; there are 3 archaeological trails and 2 nature trails. El Pilar contains a dozen pyramids and 25-kown plazas. To reach Xunantunich (“Maiden of the Rock”),off of the Western Highway, just before Benque Viejo, take the hand-cranked ferry across the river and hike about 1-mile to the country’s first site. Said to date from the Classic Period, there are 3 plazas, many temples, a ball court and until recently, the tallest known Maya structure, El Castillo at some 130+ feet, with exquisite friezes and from the summit have a spectacular view into Guatemala and the surrounding Peten jungle. Continue deep into the Mountain Pine ridge area and your hotel, Blancaneaux Lodge. Lunch en route. (B/L)

Day 12 - Sunday - Cayo District/Mountain Pine Ridge Area:  Deep in the Chiquibul Forest you will visit a Maya site what many believe will one day rival  Guatemala’s Tikal, Caracol “The Snail.”   Discovered by area loggers in 1938, the present site covers some 30 square miles, the site dates back to the Classic Maya period. Today one can see the work being carried out by archaeologists of Tulane University and University of Central Florida on three plaza groups, central acropolis, two ball courts as well as a number of smaller structures.(C/L)

Day 13 - Monday - Cayo/Mountain Pine Ridge Area - Tikal Area: Your local host will drive you tot he border crossing at Melchor de Mencos to enter Guatemala on your way to Tikal area. En route stop at the ruins of Yaxha on the northern shores of beautiful Lake Yaxha, reminiscent of pristine Tikal 50 years ago! Yaxha (“Green Water”) is considered to be the third largest Classic site in the country. Near the southern shore of the lake, on an island of the same name, lies Topoxte, which reveals elements of the Yucatan Maya style, reflecting the believed migration from the north toward the end of the Classic period.  Lunch will be provided today and continue to La Lancha on the shores of Lake Peten Itza. (C/L)

Day 14 - Tuesday - Tikal Area - Lake Petexbatun:  This morning you will leave with your host and drive about two hours, past the regional island capital of Flores to Sayaxche where you will board motorboat and cruise about 1.5 hours to Punta de Chimino on Lake Petexbatun and the Chimino’s Island Lodge. This afternoon you will visit one of the more remote sites that flourished during the Classic period, Aguateca. Its main feature is a series of stelae dedicated to its rulers; and it is believed that with Dos Pilas, the combined armies defeated those of Alta de Sacrificios. Many structures have yet to be explored. (C/L/D)

Day 15 - Wednesday - Lake Petxbatun - Tikal Area:  As you leave Chiminos, you will boat down the Rio de La Pasion to visit the ceremonial site of El Ceibal, which reached its peak around 800 BC-100 AD. Here you see numerous groupings of finely carved and maintained stelae that show Mexican clothing, faces and design motifs, here too reflecting the influence of the northern Mexican Maya. A box  lunch will be provided before returning to your hotel in the Tikal area, La Lancha. (B/L)

Day 16 - Thursday - Tikal Area:  The greatest of all ceremonial centers of the Classic Maya was Tikal. The site lies in the 4 million acre Maya Biosphere, making it the world’s only dual designated UNESCO World Heritage site (archaeology and nature). The surrounding jungle splendor abundant wildlife is found - spider and howler monkeys, three species of toucans (among several bird species), deer, foxes, ocellated turkeys, coatimundis, and for the fortunate, puma sightings! The Maya engineering feats have been clearly seen here, in numerous temples (in particular Temple I – Temple of the Great Jaguar, Temple II – Temple of the Masks, each at opposite ends of the Plaza Mayor; and Temple IV – Temple of the Double Headed Serpent, at 70 meters,  was the tallest until very recently). The north Acropolis has 100 buildings built on top of earlier structures and is the burial ground for Tikal’s rulers. At El Mundo Perdido (The Lost World, is Pre-Classic Maya), you find the largest pyramid (The Great Pyramids at 30 meters high). Picnic lunch provided on site. (B/L)

Day 17 - Friday - Depart Tikal/Flores Area - USA:  Transfer tot he airport in Flores for your flight to Belize and connect to international departure flight.

Extend your visit in Guatemala - the the world of the "Living Maya" in the highlands of Guatemala
See our "Guatemala Highlands" program

SAMPLE LAND RATE PER PERSON: (All rates subject to change without notice)
YEAR Single Occupancy Twin Occupancy - P/P Triple Occupancy - P/P
2018 Request $8,900 to $10,500 Request
2019 estimate + 10%
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
After reservations confirmed If new documents are required
$100 per change $100 per change + $100 re-issue documents
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%
  • 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
  • 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 1, 2018. Information & rates subject to change.
Responsibilities, Terms & Condition