Guatemala Getaway

Mayan Gateway

This 14-day Guatemala Getaway offers you adventure within the best sites in the Heart of the Mayan world while enjoying natural wonders such as volcanic lakes, natural pools, and hot springs. Join your friends or family as an expert guide leads you to the south of Guatemala to explore the architectural wonders of colonial Antigua and the cultural cradle of Quetzaltenango (Xela).

You will relax along the shores of Lake Atitlan and swim in the turquoise water of Semuc Champey. Discover the Mayan world in the iconic Péten and make your way through the colorful streets and blue waters of Rio Dulce and Livingston. Guatemala’s incomparable cultural diversity and biodiversity will leave you with a new appreciation for this beautiful country.

Antigua Guatemala

Mayan City of Tikal

Paradise Farm

Semuc Champey

Highlights

3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Tikal, Antigua Guatemala, and Quirigua. Natural wonders: Semuc Champey, Lake Atitlan, and Rio Dulce. Volcanoes, hot springs, and more.

Itinerary

Day 1. Lake Atitlan.

Upon your arrival, a guide will welcome you at the international airport. Your Guatemala Getaway begins in Lake Atitlan, which is located 1500 meters (5000 feet) above sea level. It is the second-largest lake in Guatemala with a surface area of more than 125 square kilometers (48 square miles). At a maximum depth of 324 meters (1062 feet), it is also the deepest in Central America.

The famous novelist Aldous Huxley considered Lake Atitlán to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. No matter where you choose to relax on the numerous beaches, you will have beautiful views of the 3 volcanoes, Atitlán, Tolimán, and San Pedro, forming a majestic backdrop on the lake. After you arrive at your hotel, you will have the rest of the afternoon to rest and relax.

Day 2. Boat Excursion.

Today, you will have a boat excursion in Lake Atitlan. Explore beautiful Lake Atitlan and the indigenous towns on its shores. These are great places to see the beauty and variety of the Living Mayan culture. Every town has a distinct Mayan dress with patterns and colors that represent the traditions and heritage of that village.

Discover three Mayan villages:

  1. Santa Catarina Palopo. This unique town has been transformed into a community-based art project. The houses of the village have been painted into a colorful masterpiece, decorated in traditional Mayan designs using bright, eco-friendly limestone paint.
  2. San Juan la Laguna. Visit the studios of local painters, and artists. Visit a weaving cooperative, where the traditional clothing is made by hand, with natural tints using both a belt and pedal method of hand weaving. 
  3. Santiago Atitlan. See the elegant traditional dress of this town with bird designs. The women use a delicate head covering called a tocoyal. Explore a traditional market, artists galleries, wood sculptures shops, and see the imposing colonial church.
Day 3. Western Highlands.

Today, we will head into the Western Highlands to enjoy gorgeous scenic views on the way to Quetzaltenango (Xela), also known as the Cultural Cradle of Central America. This city is home to a broad art scene with excellent music, painting, singing, and sculpture.

The city attracts large numbers of students seeking to learn Spanish and Latin dance styles, like Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, and more. During the tour, you will visit the most important churches and colonial monuments to learn more about the history of the second-largest city in Guatemala. If you are interested in learning Latin dance, just let us know and we can arrange a workshop for you.

Day 4. Volcano & Hot Springs.

Today we will hike to the lookout of Santiaguito Volcano. This volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America. Take a hike to a safe lookout where you will be able to see the crater of the volcano. If you are lucky, you’ll get a chance to see some earth-shaking eruptions as well.

In the afternoon, head up to Fuentes Georginas, volcanic hot springs. The ride up the mountain alone is worth the view, including spectacular views of Volcano Santa Maria and other mountains and the chance to stop at various lookouts along the way.

Tucked into the mountains that surround Quetzaltenango, the water is heated naturally by volcanic gases with 7 different pools at varying temperatures to accommodate all of your preferences.  Another way to experience the expedition to the hot springs is by bike for cycling enthusiasts. After you have had some exercise, you can relax in the hot and medicinal waters of this natural beauty in Guatemala’s western highlands.

Day 5. Antigua Guatemala.

Today we will drive to Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala’s former capital city. Today Antigua’s cobblestone streets are bustling with wonderful restaurants and bars, cultural attractions, colonial architecture, and ruins. Antigua, Guatemala was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 for its immense historical and cultural value. Three volcanoes overlook the city and make for many excellent hikes and views.

In the afternoon, travel back in time as you explore with your guide Antigua’s beautiful churches, ruins, and its famous cathedral. The cobblestone streets make you feel like you’re in another era while offering a bustling city center with wonderful restaurants and bars, cultural attractions, and colonial architecture.

Day 6. Coban.

Early in the morning, we will drive to Coban. Coban is rich with dense cloud forests, sparkling waterfalls, and spectacular cave systems. It is an area of exceptional beauty. In the afternoon, we will discover the Orchid Plant Botanical Reserve. This excursion of the delicate Orchid plant is perfect for the tourist looking to be a bit more mindful and learn about this essential plant.

On this excursion, you will be able to both learn and appreciate the delicacy of nature in this botanic garden. Inside the botanical reserve, you will be led on hikes with devoted local guides who will take you through the various trails and help you perceive the local flora and fauna. Take the opportunity and join locals on an informational hike through the beautiful Orquigonia Botanical reservoir with community guides.

Day 7. Semuc Champey.

Today, we will explore the exceptional natural wonder of Semuc Champey, a natural limestone bridge extending 500 meters above the Cahabón River. In this humid subtropical forest, you will find 7 emerald swimming pools. The pools range from 1 to 3 meters deep and are fed by natural springs from the mountains.

The Cahabón River passes underground at the entrance of Semuc Champey and resurfaces at the start of the hiking trail. This unique natural wonder shows you dozens of tropical shades ranging from pale emerald green to deep sapphire blue. 

On the way back to Cobán you can also visit the Lanquin Caves. These majestic caves are located in a protected area. They are peppered with rooms, corridors, chambers, and rock formations. This is also a thriving bat habitat.

Day 8. Flores Island.

First, you will be transported from Coban to Flores Island. Located in Lake Petén Itzá, Flores Island is a truly memorable attraction. A natural launching-off point for visits to nearby Mayan ruins, Flores Island is a perfect place to recharge after day trips spent exploring ancient archaeological sites.

In the afternoon, you will take a boat ride to see more of the lake. Birdwatchers and animal lovers of all kinds will enjoy the chance to see more of this wildlife preserve. You may also have the chance to visit a full veterinary hospital in the jungle, only accessible by boat.

Tayazal is located on a peninsula on the shores of Lake Peten. This Mayan city is famous for being one of the last to fall to the Spanish conquistadors. During your hike through the archaeological site, you will have the chance to observe a great variety of birds and get a break from the heat in the shade of majestic Spanish cedars filled with howler monkeys.

Day 9. Ruins of Yaxha.

Today, we will drive off-the-beaten-path to explore the hidden ruins of Yaxha. Located within the Maya Biosphere Reserve, the rainforest in the north of the country is an endless jungle that hides many great ruins, Yahxa being only one of them. There are more than 60,000 hidden Mayan structures in Guatemala. Most of these are situated very deep in the jungle and some have not even been discovered yet. 

Yaxha is an extraordinary site that deserves the time to explore. It is an excellent extension for those who want to explore more of the Mayan culture and get easy access to it. Its well-preserved temples and monumental architecture amaze travelers.

Day 10. Mayan City of Tikal.

Today this Guatemala getaway includes an expedition to the marvelous Mayan city of Tikal. The path through the jungle surrounded by the cacophony of birds and monkeys will lead you to a spectacular view of the massive Mayan Ruins that are nearly a thousand years old.

A professional guide will show the way through the jungle to reach the highest temple. From this point of view, you can witness the most incredible sight: an overwhelming sea of trees and, as if they were boats made of rock, the tips of the Mayan temples of Tikal, peeking through the canopy of greenery.

Day 11. Rio Dulce.

In the morning, we will drive from Flores to Rio Dulce with beautiful views of the various biodiversity of Guatemala along the way. In the afternoon, you will have a boat tour to the Castle of San Felipe de Lara. This castle is a Spanish fort located on a peninsula between Lake Izabal and Rio Dulce. 

Day 12. Boat expedition.

After breakfast, we will leave on a boat expedition to discover Rio Dulce, Finca Paraiso, and Livingston. Rio Dulce connects Guatemala’s largest lake, Lake Izabal, to the Caribbean Sea. Take a boat tour along the Rio Dulce to see beautiful sites such as the Hidden River and the Dark Lagoon. Then, just as the river narrows and the mountains begin to take shape, you will see the Great Canyon.

Finca Paraiso is a large farm located on Lake Izabal, a very remote part of Guatemala. In Paradise Farm, you will visit a river and a big waterfall of hot springs. The water coming down is hot, mixing with the cold water of the river, a unique experience. Swim, enjoy the hot water, and relax in this truly secluded paradise. 

Livingston is the only Garifuna Cultural settlement in Guatemala. With a unique mix of Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous people, Livingston offers a unique Caribbean experience. This tropical paradise is inhabited by the Garifuna, an Afro-Caribbean people, who warmly greet you when you arrive on the docks of Livingston. Livingston has the best beaches in Guatemala. This is a great chance to enjoy the ocean, relax and experience the rich diversity the Garifuna culture offers.

Day 13. Quirigua.

Today, we will drive to the ruins of Quirigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will take another step back in time to these ruins. The Mayan site is home to sculptured stelae and calendars that have proven to be essential in the study of Mayan civilization. The park is committed entirely to the conservation of ancient architecture and 17 masterpieces. Walk the grounds at your peace with your guide, and sit back and contemplate the ruins. 

Later, we will drive to Guatemala City. Today, we will have dinner in a traditional Guatemalan restaurant. 

Day 14. Departure.

Sadly your Guatemala Getaway ends today. You will have a transfer to the airport for your international flight back home.

Expenses included

14 days & 13 nights

$2,100 per guest

Private transportation, door to door service

13 nights accommodation: jungle lodges & small boutique hotels

Local certified onsite guides

All park entrance fees

 Boat transfers

Daily breakfast

Taxes

Price varies by group size

Not included: flights, travel insurance and other expenses than indicated

Extensions
Volcano Tajumulco

The highest volcano in Central America. As the route pushes higher, you will find yourself hiking on clouds. The final steep push in the trail embraces those worthy of the challenge with a dramatic view. Stars, clouds, a stretch full of other volcanoes going off, and the ascending sun make for an exceptionally delightful reward.

Trek to El Mirador

The Mayan city of El Mirador is a nine kilometers wide archaeological site with more than 850 structures and buildings, most of them covered by the jungle. It is the largest Mayan site in Central America and has the biggest pyramid (volume-wise) in the entire world, the Data Pyramid. Trek through an isolated jungle canopy and spot wonderful sunsets. See countless wildlife, including spider and howler monkeys, toucans, and many more.

Trek Nebaj to Todos Santos

Visit towns that most tourists have never heard of. The excursion will grant you a different look at rural life. Visit one of the purest towns of rural Guatemala, where both the men and women still wear the traditional clothing of their ancestors, making a colorful and extraordinary aspect that you will not find anywhere else.

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