Guatemala: Tikal & Beyond    *alt*

16 days, from £2995
Wild Frontiers
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Description

Rising above the jungle canopy, the reminders of a once great Mayan civilisation cast their bewitching shadow across the Guatemalan landscape. Towering pyramids pierce the skyline as we gaze upon the remnants of one of the most dynamic and sophisticated civilizations ever to grace the highlands and coastal plains of the Americas.

Guatemala is one of Central America's hidden gems, a country of incredible diversity, with a history and a culture to match. Lush and volcanic and steeped in Mayan lore, it is a rich mix of natural wonder, native tradition and colonial elegance, much of it as yet unspoiled by the trappings of modern tourism. This incredible adventure takes us deep into the central highlands, where we can soak up the graceful charms of Antigua. We'll gaze out across the breathtaking volcanic landscapes around Lake Atitlan and visit the traditional Mayan villages of the Ixil Triangle. We'll pick coffee with local farmers and journey by boat to the remote Mayan site of Aguateca, before visiting the unique community of the Garifuna on the shores of the Caribbean.

This is a journey filled with wonder and fascination, where the ancient and the modern worlds come together before the slopes of a volcanic landscape as timeless and beautiful as any on earth. Beyond the ruins of Tikal the Mayan spirit lives on, in the villages and settlements that cling to Guatemala's low lying plains and fertile mountains.

Please note that the Christmas departure has slightly different itinerary to the regular departures. Please refer to the individual dossiers for details.

Highlights:

- Visiting the amazing Mayan ruins at Tikal as well as lesser known sites like Aguateca
- Witnessing the colourful Lent Celebrations in Antigua
- Experiencing village life in the Ixil Triangle
- Marvelling at the beauty of Lake Atitlan and the Rio Dulce
- Making it to the Atlantic Coast and meeting the Garifuna people

Tour Includes:

- Full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides and drivers
- 15 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 12 dinners (typically in local restaurants where viable)
- Drinking water throughout
- All transport (minibuses and motorised boats)
- 15 nights' accommodation (7 in comfortable hotels, 2 in simple hotels, 2 in haciendas, 4 in lodges)
- All entrance fees, sightseeing, excursions and activities as per the itinerary
- A carbon-offsetting contribution to Carbon Clear (if booking international flights through WF office)
ALL OUR SMALL GROUP TOURS HAVE NO LOCAL PAYMENTS, HIDDEN EXTRAS OR COMPULSORY SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS.

Itinerary


 Days 1-3: Tours starts in Antigua


 Day 1: The tour starts in this stunning colonial city which is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Day 2: We'll have the whole day to enjoy the wonderfully atmospheric city of Antigua and (for those visiting during Lent) a chance to see some incredibly colourful processions. Day 3: In the morning we'll head out to the nearby slopes to learn about the coffee-making process and in the afternoon have the chance to take part in a chocolate-making workshop!



 Days 4-5: Antigua - Lake Atitlan


 Day 4: A short drive takes us west to one of the most scenic spots in the whole of Central America - Lake Atitlan. This will be our base for the next two nights. Day 5: For those that wish, there'll be the opportunity for an early morning walk to a famed viewpoint over the lake with the rest of the day free fort swimming, relaxing or perhaps hiring some bikes.



 Days 6-7: Lake Atitlan - Nebaj


 Day 6: Heading north we'll stop at the famous Thursday market at Chichicastenango before going to the traditional & beautiful Ixil Triangle. Day 7: A full day in this rural area allows for some great opportunities to meet some of the locals who have struggled to survive some of the country's recent challenges.



 Day 8: Nebaj - Lanquin

A long but stunning drive takes us along a mountainous road to the central coffee growing area of Lanquin.


 Day 9: Lanquin

We'll visit the pools of Semuc Champey where we can swim and explore the surrounding jungle.


 Day 10: Lanquin - Sayaxche - Chiminos

An undoubted highlight of the trip is the chance to stay at the remote Chiminos Lodge on the shores of the beautiful Petexbatun lagoon.


 Day 11: Chiminos - Sayaxche - Flores

Accessible only by boat, Aguateca is an atmospheric Mayan city that provides an excellent introduction to the marvels of Peten province. Later we'll transfer to the popular town of Flores, the main jumping off point for Tikal.


 Day 12: Flores - Yaxha - Tikal

After a free morning, we'll make for the striking site of Yaxha, planning to take in a panoramic sunset over the jungle before moving on to nearby Tikal. We'll spend the night in a lodge right next to the site.


 Day 13: Tikal - Rio Dulce

With an early morning start, avoiding the crowds and the heat, we'll explore the vast remains of one of Central America's most impressive sites - the Mayan city of Tikal. After a thorough exploration, we'll make for the waters of Rio Dulce.


 Day 14: Rio Dulce - Livingston

A scenic boat journey takes us along the Rio Dulce to the Garifuna town of Livingston, on the Atlantic shores.


 Days 15-16: Livingston - Quirigua - Guatemala City


 Day 15: The wonderfully preserved stelae at Quirigua give a final taster of this country's manifold cultural gems. Our final night will be spent out in the affluent 'zona viva' area of the capital. Day 16: The tour ends this morning in Guatemala City.