Classic Guatemala & Belize

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Run by: Rainbow Tours

Reference number: ITN-GTM001

From: £3795.00

Discover the highlands and jungle of Guatemala and the turquoise waters of Belize's Caribbean coastline. See the full kaleidoscope of Guatemala's highlights – colonial towns, colourful markets, sparkling Lake Atitlan and the incredible Mayan ruins of Tikal. Combine the heat of the jungle with the breeze of the Caribbean in Belize, which has a simply stunning coastline. Whether you want to dive, snorkel or just lie on the beach and relax after your adventure, these two countries make a perfect combination.

Itinerary

Day 1 Fly via the USA to Guatemala City and transfer to Antigua for 2 nights in the heart of this beautiful city. The former capital of Guatemala was founded in 1543 and is one of the finest cities in Central America. This pretty town oozes colonial charm in a delightful setting, in the shadow of three volcanoes and surrounded by coffee plantations.

Day 2 Enjoy a half day walking tour around Antigua to take in its cobbled streets, colonial churches and attractive squares. Until the major earthquake in 1773, Antigua was Guatemala's capital city. Founded in 1543 it grew to be one of the finest in Central America and the tour includes many of the great buildings and churches. You will visit Iglesia San Francisco, the Cathedral, Central Park, and La Merced Church.

Day 3 Today visit the local woodcarvers in the village of Jocotenango and then continue to the fabulous Azotea coffee farm. The charity AGAIG (As Green as it Gets) works to support small local coffee producers and promotes responsible agriculture in the region. Visit the Maya Traditions Museum to learn about traditional music, costume and traditions. In the afternoon, transfer by road to Lake Atitlan, truly one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Overlooked by volcanoes, its shores are dotted with Mayan villages.

Day 4 Take a scenic boat ride across Lake Atitlan to the village of San Juan la Laguna. Visit the women's textile co-operative to see hand-weaving and natural dye processes as well as the homes of the celebrated naif painters. From here, continue to the village of Santiago for lunch and a tour of the village, visiting the Maya God, Maximon and learning about the spiritualism and beliefs of the local T'zutujil Maya.

Day 5 Transfer from the lake one hour by road to the famous market at Chichicastenango (Thursdays and Sundays). Here vendors from the nearby countryside and villages come to sell their wares. You have time to explore the colourful food market, and the excellent craft market. Make sure not to miss the catholic church of Santo Tomas, the front of the church has 18 steps accounting of the 18 months in the Mayan calendar. Late afternoon transfer to Guatemala City for a scheduled flight to Flores, the gateway to Tikal.

Day 6 Enjoy a full-day guided tour of Tikal, immersed within the tropical rainforest. Explore the temples and ruins; for the energetic climb to the top of the temples to enjoy spectacular views. Tikal is a great spot to see a variety of wildlife, the surrounding jungle is home to spider and howler monkeys, deer, fox, coatis, toucans, and a huge variety of birds.

Day 7 Road transfer into Belize and onto the Cayo District for 3 nights. Located in the western section of the country and bordering Guatemala's department of El Petén, the Cayo District is a vast highland stretch of rainforests, ranches, and some of the country's most remote and rugged terrain. Discover Mayan ruins, extensive cave systems, abundant wildlife and the chance to explore the great outdoors on foot, by horse, or in a kayak, raft, or canoe.

Day 8 Travel through the Cayo District before going off road to the mysterious Barton Creek Cave system. Along the way, pass through a traditional Mennonite community where horse and carriage rule the road. Then pick up your paddle and high-powered light for your half-day expedition into the Barton Creek Cave, used by the ancient Maya as a ceremonial centre and burial site. Gently paddle your canoe along the scenic creek and, with lights shining, venture into the dark, winding cave system known as a Mayan underworld. Stalactites hang high overhead as you float past impressive calcite crystal formations in cathedral-like chambers. Knowledgeable guides leading this tranquil, low-intensity adventure discuss the relevance of the cave to the ancient Mayan people and the archaeological significance of this 7.5-kilometre (4-mile) limestone formation.

Day 9 Free day to explore. The lodge offers a variety of on site activities, whether you want to go river tubing, mountain biking, hiking to nearby waterfalls or swimming in the Macal river. The Cayo District is full of adventure. Alternatively, please enquire for excursions that can be booked. We recommend visiting the nearby ruins of Xunantunich or Caracol.

Day 10 Today depart the Cayo District by road to San Ignacio airport. Board a Tropic Air flight (approx 1hr) to Ambergris Caye. The largest of Belize's islands, Ambergris Caye runs parallel to the magnificent Belize Barrier Reef. Once home to the ancient Maya (they created the island by digging a channel between it and Mexico), Ambergris is located 56 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Belize City and is accessible by boat or plane. It's a popular destination for diving, snorkeling, sailing, fishing, kayaking, and windsurfing. Formerly a fishing village, San Pedro is the island's only town; its sandy streets are lined with waterfront restaurants, hotels, tiki bars, and dive shops. Spend the next 3 nights at Portofino Beach Resort.

Day 11 Two full days to enjoy this beautiful Caribbean island. Located on a lovely stretch of beach on the northern shore of Ambergris Island - Portofino is away from the bustle of San Pedro town but still accessible by boat. It offers fantastic views, great diving and snorkeling, all in a personal, laid back and casual atmosphere. For those adventure seekers the Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley snorkel tour is a must. Explore the breathtaking marine life flourishing in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Hol Chan, which means "Little Channel" in Mayan, features an opulent coral garden, including stag horn corals and sea fans, where myriad sea creatures live and feed. Watch as harmless nurse sharks and graceful southern stingrays ply the shallow, crystalline waters in the aptly named Shark Ray Alley passage.

Day 12

Day 13 Take the short flight back to Belize City, before connecting with your flight to the UK via the USA.

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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