The Mayan World

Guatemala & Mexico

Without a doubt, Guatemala is the heart of the Mayan world. Witness this historic and intricate civilization that began more than 2,000 years ago and continues to this day. During this expedition to the Mayan World, you will visit the lowlands of Guatemala. In this region alone, there are hundreds of Mayan archaeological sites.

It includes impressive Mayan Cities such as Tikal, and Yaxha, a curious city with many structures that have been left underground. You will also have the opportunity to visit The Great Mayan City of El Mirador (The Lookout), the largest Mayan city in existence. Additionally, you will visit captivating Mayan cities in the jungles of Mexico such as Palenque and Yaxchilan. 

Tikal

Palenque

Yaxchilan

Bonampak

Highlights

Mayan Cities of Tikal, El Mirador, and Yaxha in Guatemala. Mayan Cities of Palenque, Yaxchilan, and Bonampak in Mexico.

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival

Your international flight will arrive at the international airport Mundo Maya of Flores Island FRS, Guatemala. A local guide will wait for you at the airport. He will take you directly to your jungle lodge in Tikal for the night.

Day 2. Sunrise in Tikal

Early, you will walk in the jungle while it is still dark to Temple IV where you will see the dawn over Tikal. Sit at the top of the temple quietly as the daylight appears. The jungle canopy will wake up, howler monkeys and birds will make a great symphony of natural sounds. Spider monkeys follow you from the tree limbs above until you finally reach the plazas and pyramids. Our guide will take you on a memorable journey through these magnificent Mayan ruins and jungle.

Tikal is the largest excavated site in the Americas and contains some of the most fascinating archaeological remains of this ancient civilization. It is difficult to fully grasp how big this park truly is with its many trails weaving through the jungle canopy that leads to half-uncovered structures. On a regular walking tour inside Tikal, you may come across spider monkeys, howler monkeys, coatimundis (a raccoon-like animal ranging into Central America into Mexico and the US), parrots, toucans, and ocellated turkeys. Tapirs, peccaries, and jaguars still roam the jungle, not afraid to be seen by the keen eye of an avid observer. Tikal is a UNESCO World Heritage for Humanity.

At the end of the day, your driver will take you to your hotel on Flores Island. 

Day 3. Yaxha ruins

Today we will bring you on a journey to the Mayan city of Yaxha, about an hour and a half drive from Flores Island. The Mayan ruins of Yaxha are completely off-the-beaten-path. It is not a well-known park among travelers. To reach it, we first have to go through 12 kilometers of an unpaved road. If you have ever visited a Mayan site before, you will find Yaxha even more mysterious, leaving you with new knowledge to absorb and a new world to discover.

When you arrive at the great pyramid of the eastern acropolis, you will be left speechless by the immensity of the jungle, spreading as far as your eye can see. You will also have a great view of Lake Yaxha which simply will take your breath away.

Day 4. El Mirador

Today, we will go on a helicopter expedition over the dense Guatemalan jungle and an incredible look over the other-worldly pyramids of La Danta and El Tigre. The helicopter tour to El Mirador allows you to see not only the largest cluster of pyramids from any Mayan city but also to see the PRE-Classical period and experience the site mostly by yourself.

The sheer scale is colossal. One of the pyramid complexes alone, La Danta, is 72 meters tall. The platforms are immense, the bottom one is 180,000 square meters and 2.8 million cubic meters, it is the biggest pyramid structure in the world. Additionally, there are more pyramid complexes, you will visit another 3 which are somewhat smaller, but at the same scale.

Because of just how new the discovery is and that most of the city is still to be excavated, no one has heard of this site. Look at top listings of archeological sites, even top Mayan cities and you will not see it there.

Day 5. Yaxchilan and Lacandon

Today, we will drive to the border of Corozal with Mexico where you will take a boat expedition along the Usumacinta River to get to the ruins of Yaxchilan famous for its large number of architectural inscriptions and structures. There are inscriptions everywhere: on altars, on lintels, on door finials, and stelae. 

During the boat journey, your guide will show you crocodiles on the banks. Monkeys groan from treetops on either side of the Usumacinta River. At Yaxchilan, you will pass the dark tunnels of a temple to reach the ample shaded plaza where hundred-foot-tall lush trees share space with ancient Mayan temples well over a thousand years old.  

Later we will drive to the Lacandon jungle that goes across the Usumacinta River into Guatemala from the state of Chiapas in Mexico, where approximately a quarter of the population is indigenous. Few tourists to Mexico make it to Chiapas, and far fewer make it to the Lacandon jungle, though there are exceptional Mayan sites, magnificent waterfalls, and casual jaguar spotting.  

Tonight you’ll stay at an eco-camp with the Lacandon people, a Maya community that now numbers less than one thousand. Discover the tropical jungle of Lacandon and experience the traditions of the indigenous inhabitants who call it home. 

Day 6. Bonampak

After breakfast, we will visit the Mayan site of Bonampak. You will follow your guide in a pathway through gigantic trees and jungle, ending at a grassy clearance where a single enormous pyramid stands before you. This large temple has some of the best-preserved Maya murals identified up to now. If there is one reason to visit Bonampak, the murals are it. 

You’ll go up the small stairs to the palapa-covered structure with 3 rooms; the Temple of the Murals. The rooms are covered with vivid, colorful murals from top to bottom. Each room has a different theme; the first one has images of musicians, dancing, and festivals. The second one has combat scenes, fighters, and sacrifices. And the third one has murals displaying ritual bloodletting. 

The murals at Bonampak are some of the rarest Maya ruins because they truly display a glance into what their civilization was like, what they admired, and some characteristics of their beliefs. Afterward, we will drive to Palenque. 

Day 7. Palenque

Today, we will visit the captivating Mayan site of Palenque. This antique site stands at the explicit point where the first hills rise out of the Gulf coastal plain, and the heavy jungle covering these hills forms an expressive backdrop to the delicate Maya architecture of Palenque. Hundreds of ruined constructions are spread over 15 square kilometers. The lush forest around these temples is home to howler monkeys, toucans, and others. Later, we will visit the beautiful waterfall of Misol-ha for a refreshing swim. 

Day 8. Departure

Your driver will pick you up from your hotel in Palenque to take you to the city of Villahermosa for your departure flight from the Carlos Rovirosa Perez International Airport VSA.

map, expenses & price

The Mayan World

Expenses included:
-Private transportation.
-Seven nights of hotel accommodations.
-Local professional guides.
-All park entrance fees.
-Tours and excursions as listed.
-Daily breakfast.

Per person starting at $2,300

Extensions

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Laguna del Tigre

The National Park Laguna del Tigre (The Tigre Lagoon) is the biggest national park in Guatemala and is in the Mayan Biosphere Nature Reservoir. It is likewise one of Latin America’s most significant guarded swamp areas. The park is one of the best locations to spot toucans, scarlet macaws, crocodiles, and jaguars, among many birds. Duration: 2 days.

Toucan in the jungles of Guatemala
Aerial view of the Crater Azul in Guatemala.

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Crater Azul

The sublime Crater Azul (Blue Crater) is a natural sanctuary with clear crystalline waters; it’s excellent for taking snaps underwater and chilling out after a warm boat ride. The Blue Crater is a calm lagoon of extraordinarily transparent waters, and it’s a haven for animals with a submarine garden. You’ll swim and snorkel to see the dazzling aquatic life, multicolored fish, and submerged plants. You’ll travel by boat to La Pasion River; this ride here is scenic, taking you past rainforests and the countryside.

Jungle in Guatemala

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Jungle Zip-line

It is a six hours zipline and eco-friendly skyway excursion. Go over a skyway on suspension bridges. Ascend through the treetops on a zipline and Search for astonishing birds and flora in the lush forest. Go on a tractor or horseback ride through the woods. Go to the elevated skyway, where guests will follow the local guide along suspension bridges over the rainforest.

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