An epic journey through Central America from Mexico to Honduras on the trail of ancient and modern Maya civilisations.
From Mexico City your adventure starts in the state of Chiapas, deep in the Lacandón jungle. Bonampak means painted wall and here it is possible to view the colourful murals found within the temple structures. Continue to the site of Yaxchilan which sits on the banks of the Usumacinta River – a rival of Palenque and dominated the smaller sites like Bonampak, famous for its hieroglyphic texts.
Cross the frontier to Flores into the lowlands of Guatemala. Arrive in time for sunset drinks and exploration at the site of Yaxha. Visit the formidable site of Tikal; a city at the centre of Mesoamerica for over 800 years. Explore the ruins with your specialist archaeological guide and enjoy a luxury picnic within the park.
Your journey continues from Tikal to Rio Dulce. From here take a boat and navigate the jungle waters of the Rio Dulce to Livingston that lies at the mouth of the river on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. Take to the seas and travel by boat to Puerto Barrios and transfer to Copan in Honduras. Copan is most noted for its wonderful stelae structures.
From Copan, travel back into Guatemala and to the delightful town of Antigua. The town of Antigua is best explored on foot and be sure to take the street food tour for some culinary delights.
The highlands of Guatemala are not often thoroughly explored, but the small village of Nebaj and the Ixil Triangle are hugely rewarding. Discover the modern day Maya; fiercely traditional with distinct dress, making a way of life from farming and weaving.
Finally spend time on the shores of the startlingly beautiful Lake Atitlan. A crater lake surrounded by towering volcanoes interspersed with rural villages and colourful markets. It is impossible not to relax here and Lake Atitlan is a perfect spot to conclude your epic Mayan odyssey.
For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.
what is included
what is excluded
PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.
Fly London to Mexico City
You will be staying at Hotel La Casona, Bed & Breakfast
When the Aztec observed an eagle perched on a cactus devouring a snake, they believed this was a sign to stop their wanderings and build an empire. Today Mexico City is one of the largest capitals in the world, a city of contrasts and one that encapsulates all that is Mexican - it is vibrant, overwhelming, captivating and bursting with energy.
Fly Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez
Sumidero CanyonTransfer on arrival at Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport to Chiapa de Corzo (30mins) for a boat journey through the 1,000m deep Sumidero Canyon spotting caiman and exotic birds on the way. Following this 2 hour boat trip, head into Chiapa de Corzo for lunch (included) before continuing to San Cristobal de las Casas (1 hour).Tuxtla Gutierrez is the capital of Chiapas state. It’s a large, modern city, crossed by wide avenues and dotted with parks and green spaces. The central square is Plaza Civica, overlooked by the sixteenth century San Marco Cathedral. The city contains a number of museums and cultural centres, including the important Museum of Anthropology and History.
Drive from Tuxtla Gutierrez to San Cristobal (Road Journey)
Stunningly located in the fertile Jovel Valley with mountains all around, San Cristobal de las Casas is a charming blend of colonial buildings and local indigenous culture. All round the central plaza are buildings built from 16th and 17th century rich in architectural variety. Just beyond the plaza is the dramatic church and ex-convent of Santo Domingo with a stunning baroque façade. Also in San Cristobal are many co-operatives from the local Indian villages selling colourful textiles, age-old handicrafts and beautiful wooden dolls.
Drive from San Cristobal to Palenque (Road Journey)
The temples and palaces of Palenque emerge from the thick jungle bearing historical texts and inscriptions that refer to ancient rulers and significant historical events. Time to immerse yourself in the fascinating Mayan culture and learn about the ways their society developed.
Half day visit of the ruinsThe temples and palaces of Palenque emerge from the thick jungle bearing historical texts and inscriptions that refer to ancient rulers and significant historical events. Time to immerse yourself in the fascinating Mayan culture and learn about the ways their society developed.
You will be staying at Chan-Kah Resort Village, Bed & Breakfast
Yaxchilan and BonampakDepart early this morning for the remote Mayan Archaelogical sites of Yaxchilan and Bonampak, located deep in the Lacandon Jungle. The drive from Palenque is a couple of hours followed by a one hour boat ride to the Mayan site of Yaxchitlan. This site is renowned as much for its incredible setting as it is for its ornamented building façade and impressive stone lintels that depict battles and ceremonial events. This ancient city’s unique position on the mighty Uscumacinta River meant that it controlled all the trade of the region and hence was one of the most important sites in the Mayan world. The calls of howler monkeys are a reminder of the site’s remoteness in the Lacandon forest. On your return to Palenque you have the opportunity to stop at the Mayan site of Bonampak, famous for its frescos in the Templo de las Pinturas, which are unmatched throughout the Mayan World. Lunch is included today.
Drive from Palenque to Lake Peten Itza (Road Journey)
Sitting in the far north of Guatemala, Lake Petén Itzá is the second largest lake in the country. Surrounded by dense tropical rainforest, the encompassing area is rich in wildlife and vegetation. More than 100 species are indigenous to the lake, whilst cacoa, sugarcane, grains and tropical fruits are all cultivated nearby.Lake Péten Itzá is also rich in archaeological remains, and the ruined city of Tikal lies close by. One of the greatest ancient cities of the powerful Maya dynasty, Tikal is a stunning ensemble of monumental pyramids, stone plazas and carved stelae.
You will be staying at Villa Maya Hotel, Bed & Breakfast
Late Afternoon Visit to YaxhaTravel to the nearby Maya site of Yaxha, which is around an hour away. Containing over 400 ruined structures, this vast site experienced its heyday during the eighth century and is still being excavated. A highlight among the ruins is 'Templo 216', which perches upon a hilltop and affords fantastic views of the surrounding landscape.Afterwards, continue to the pre-Columbian Maya site of Topoxte, which sits on an island in the centre of Yaxha Lake. Watch the sunset from this elevated location.
Full Day Tour of TikalExplore with your guide the awe-inspiring Maya metropolis of Tikal where some 3,000 structures rise from the rainforest floor inhabited by a myriad of wildlife. Follow in the footsteps of both royalty and commoner as your guide leads you to the site of the majestic Great Plaza and its Temple of the Jaguar, while experiencing the sights and sounds of the tropical animals and birds that make Tikal home. The city of Tikal flourished from 800 BC to 900 AD and the site today gives visitors a real reminder of what the Maya empire achieved at its peak. Lunch is included.
Drive from Lake Peten Itza to Rio Dulce (Road Journey)
Travel from Rio Dulce to Livingston (Boat Journey)
The Caribbean port of Lívingston is physically and culturally isolated from the rest of Guatemala; it remains accessible only by boat and is inhabited by the unique Garífuna people. Descended from a mix of indigenous Caribs and shipwrecked slaves, the Garífuna inhabit a scattering of coastal settlements on the Caribbean coastline of Central America.As is befitting of its tropical beachside location, Lívingston is a tranquil Caribbean town that exudes a relaxed seaside feel. Relying on fishing for much of its income, the town is a mishmash of colourfully painted wooden buildings.
You will be staying at Villa Caribe, Bed & Breakfast
Travel from Livingston to Puerto Barrios (Boat Journey)
Drive from Puerto Barrios to Copan (Road Journey)
Sitting in a fertile river valley, Copán is considered by many archaeologists to be one of the most spectacular Maya cities. The city was once formed part of the three largest and most lavish cultural centres of the New World; it is said to have some of the most beautiful pre-Columbian art in the Americas.Packed with examples of Maya architecture and of huge archaeological significance, this ruined city is a UNESO World Heritage Site. The modern town of Copán Ruinas lies close to the ancient ruins and, despite its tourist appeal, retains a peaceful colonial vibe.
You will be staying at La Casa Rosada, Bed & Breakfast
Full Day Tour of CopanCopán remained engulfed in jungle until the 1930s, when the Carnegie Institute finally organised for the ruins to be liberated from the forest's clutches. Excavations and reconstruction have continued since then, finally exposing this glorious city's hidden architectural treasures.Spend the day exploring Copán and examining the city's sites, accompanied by the colourful scarlet macaws that call the ruins their home. See the famous intricately-carved stelae, a stunning reconstructed hieroglyphic stairway, archaeological tunnels and excellent museum. Afterwards, visit Los Sapos, ancient toad-shaped rocks. It was here that Maya women when to give birth.
Drive from Copan to Antigua (Road Journey)
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the grand colonial city of Antigua was once one of the regional capitals of the vast Spanish Empire. Peaceful and well-organised, the city is awash with elegant colonial architecture enlivened with pastel facades and clumps of colourful bougainvillea.Squeezed between three towering volcanic peaks, Antigua's picturesque location comes at a price. Steam and gas are often visible rising from the so-called 'Volcano of Fire', whilst a series of earthquakes devastated the city in the 18th century.
Day at leisure in Antigua
You will be staying at Meson de Maria, Bed & Breakfast
Half Day Street Food TourToday, your guide will take you on a tour of Antigua's street food hot spots, where you'll get to taste some of Guatemala's most authentic cuisine. These are the places where long lines of locals are a fixture and for good reason: The food served is delicious and well-prepared. Items you might try include chuchitos (the Guatemalan take on a tamale), pupusas (cheese-filled corn tortillas), rellenitas (plantain dough that's filled with beans and then fried), and even pigs' feet. You'll learn the cultural and historic significance of the eats on offer and will also visit Antigua's bustling market to explore the colorful array of ingredients used in Guatemalan cuisine. (Please note that this tour is for more adventurous eaters.)
Tour Antigua City CentreAntigua, Guatemala was founded in 1543 and declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. In 1566 King Phillip II awarded the city with the title of Most Noble and Most Loyal. Numerous great churches, a printing press and a university were built and art and culture emanated from the city to all the Americas, especially in its golden age from 1720 to 1773 when Antigua was finally destroyed by a violent earthquake. The city was abandoned until the late 19th century and restoration began a century later when the immeasurable value of the remaining monuments was finally appreciated. Today you can explore these interesting monuments, stroll the ancient cobbled streets, enjoy a coffee overlooking the central plaza or bargain with the Indian families at the local markets.
Drive from Antigua to Nebaj (Road Journey)
You will be staying at Hacienda Mil Amores, Bed & Breakfast
Drive from Nebaj to Lake Atitlan (Road Journey)
Lake Atitlan is a stunning lake set against a backdrop of three volcanoes. Aldous Huxley once called it 'the most beautiful lake in the world' and it is difficult to disagree. Not only is it beautiful, the area is also interesting for the traditional communities that live on its shores, each with distinct languages, costumes and cultures.
You will be staying at Lomas de Tzununa, Bed & Breakfast
Day at LeisureHave the day at leisure to explore this beautiful and mystical lake.
Drive from Lake Atitlan to Guatemala City (Road Journey)
Fly Guatemala City to London
Phone: +44 (0)1285 885 333
Phone: +44(0) 1285 885 333
+44(0) 1285 885 333
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