12 Nights accommodation: Hotel (12 nights) All Transport: Private minibus, local bus, boat Included activities: Guided tour of Tikal ruins
13D Best of Guatemala & Mexico Tour ex Antigua
What to Expect
Discover the vibrant and diverse scenery of Central America Visit Antigua and be immersed in old world charm Gaze over the jungle from the magnificent ruins of Tikal Unwind on Caye Caulker off the coast of Belize Sip a cool margarita on Playa del Carmen
A perfect blend of history, architecture and natural beauty is what this Mexican tour can be called as. Enjoy the serene and yet so alive with facts Mayan ruins, the unsullied coasts and the simple yet contented lifestyle of these small humbling places. The chaotic markets filled with variety can make you spoilt for choices. The culture can stun for its enriching knowledge and above all the delectable marine food can only make your tour more fulfilling. Travel from the cobblestone streets of Antigua, through Belize and along the Yucatan Peninsula to the beachside delights of Playa del Carmen on this Guatemala to Mexico adventure. Discover ancient Mayan ruins, explore the pristine shores of the Caribbean coast, be enchanted by Guatemala's highlands and find colourful marine life in laidback Belize. From volcano studded Antigua to the chilled out charm of Mexico's coast this tour delivers a slice of action, a dose of history and culture, and some well deserved relaxation.
Day 1: Antigua Bienvenidos. Welcome to Guatemala. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 18:00 on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. As there's a great deal to do in Antigua we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist. Day 2: Antigua As the seat of the Spanish colonial government, Antigua was once the most important city in Central America. In 1773 the city was destroyed by an earthquake but many of the colonial buildings have been carefully restored and the architecture from its glory days can still be admired. Walk through the quiet cobblestone streets past heavy carved wood entrances. There are many fascinating markets and museums to explore, or if your tastes run to more active adventures hire a mountain bike and ride through the countryside. The views of mountain peaks and deep valleys, covered in lush vegetation are simply beautiful. Perhaps check out the Chocomuseo located on two blocks away from central park. Here you will learn all about chocolate, its history and nutritional values and you may be lucky enough to get a sample bag of chocolates at the end of the tour. Otherwise just grab a coffee from one of the many coffee shops in central park and just sit back relax and enjoy the beauty of this incredible city and the amazing people you will find. If you want to learn more about the famous Guatemalan coffee you can go on a coffee tour, visit the plantations, do some coffee tasting and even buy some to take back home. Go out for a stroll and try tamales, a local dish usually prepared traditionally on weekends and served in a corn leaf. You could also give the pepian a try, a meal that consists of a rich dark sauce and three meats (chicken, beef and pork). The best value food you find is next to the artisan market close to the bus station. Day 3: Rio Dulce This morning we make an early start and travel by private minibus to Rio Dulce (approx 8 hrs). Day 4: Rio Dulce Take an included boat trip down the river to visit Livingston, a fascinating Garifuna town on the coast. Day 5: Flores We continue on to Flores today (approx 4 hrs), our jumping off point for exploring the ruins at Tikal. The afternoon is free to explore Flores. Flores was officially founded by the Spanish in 1700, but had existed in various forms well before. It has long remained isolated with locals relying on subsistence farming of corn and beans and the gathering of chicle from nearby trees to produce gum. Many of the locals still get about in the traditional way, by dugout canoe. Take time to stroll through the cobblestone streets past pastel coloured buildings, buy local handicrafts or take a dip in Lake Peten Itza. Day 6: Tikal/San Ignacio This morning we rise early and take a guided tour of the ruins of Tikal National Park. Towering above the jungle of the Tikal National Park, the five granite temples of Tikal are an awesome sight and one of the most magnificent Maya ruins. Hidden in the jungle growth is a maze of smaller structures just waiting to be explored. The energetic can climb to the top of the ruins for spectacular views over the canopy. You may even spot toucans, macaws and other colourful birds. Following our visit it's time to say goodbye to Guatemala and head across the border to San Ignacio (approx 3 hrs). The journey to the border is on a dirt road, so you really feel like an explorer crossing from one country to another. Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America, which will make chatting with locals much easier. The Belizeans are known for their relaxed and easy going way of live. You will be amazed how many different cultures coexist harmoniously here. We have limited time in San Ignacio but you can choose to join one of the optional activities, including the ATM Cave, en route to Belize City on Day 7. The cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal is a living museum of Mayan relic. Wade through water until you reach the Mayan ceremonial site. Here you will find ceramic pots and crystallised skeletons, preserved by the natural processes of the cave for over 1,400 years. All guests at our hotel in San Ignacio are required to pay an additional charge of USD20 per night if they choose to use the air conditioner in their room. Electricity in Belize is incredibly expensive so most hotels charge an extra rate to use the air conditioning and USD20 per night is pretty standard. We could include this extra charge in the trip price but then all of our travellers would have to pay whether they want to use it or not. We believe giving our travellers the option is a fairer way to manage this situation. Day 7: Caye Caulker Today we leave San Ignacio in the early morning and head north to Belize City on a local bus (approx 3 hrs). Get ready for stop and go as there are very few official bus stops in Belize and the bus will keep stopping to pick up passengers. Use this to make conversation with the person next to you on the bus; Belizeans love to talk about their country. Once in Belize City we take a water taxi to Caye Caulker (approx 1 hr). The Belize Cayes are a group of islands a short boat ride away from the coast. There are a number of these islands to choose from, but we base ourselves on Caye Caulker as this is one of the more popular islands with travellers. From here it is possible to arrange day trips to other cayes, to the best reefs for snorkelling, or simply to take a local boat out to the reef of Caulker itself. Each island has its own particular character, but all of them have the unmistakeable Caribbean pace and charm. Days 8 to 9: Caye Caulker Relax on the beach or head out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, home to Shark Ray Alley and the world's second longest barrier reef. Snorkel among the colourful corals and see tropical fish, sharks and manta rays. You could also choose to go manatee spotting. These huge peaceful creatures are often called sea cows and are quite curious to meet their visitors. If you're interested in sampling local cuisine, Caye Caulker is famous for its lobster. Not the cheapest meal you'll ever buy, but so well. Always make sure that you respect the season: the lobsters can only be caught between June 15th and February 15th. Some of the best meals on the island are cooked on the road side. How about some grilled shrimp and a lovely rum and coke made with the local fire water? Day 10: Tulum Very early this morning (about 06.30) we head back to Belize City by water taxi, and travel by bus to the border with Mexico (approx. 4 hrs). After crossing the border we head to the Mexican town of Chetumal where we swap buses and head to our final destination: Tulum (approx. 3 hrs). Day 11: Tulum Tulum is a beach paradise on the Caribbean coast. Spend your time relaxing on the beach or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For a taste of Mayan architecture take an optional visit of the ruins of Tulum. These ruins sit atop a cliff amid palm fringed beaches and white sand beaches. You can even go for a swim within its ancient walls. Day 12: Playa del Carmen The last leg of our journey is a short one after all this travelling. We hop on a local Mexican bus that will take us to Playa del Carmen (approx. 1.5 hours), our departure destination. With azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but without the party atmosphere. Spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving. Day 13: Playa del Carmen There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. In order to make the most of what Playa has to offer, we strongly recommend that you extend your stay in Playa del Carmen for one or two extra days. Please contact us if you need us to assist you with additional accommodation. If you can afford a few extra days in Playa, you may want to spend time snorkelling among the mangroves or strolling along the white sands. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
What to bring: Soft and/or hard copies of all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, travel insurance etc., water bottle, electrical adapter plug, personal medical kit, insect repellent, watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both, Swimwear, travel beach towel, Tissues &/or toilet paper &/or wet wipes, insect repellent, camera with spare memory card, charger &/or batteries, sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses. What to wear: Warm as well as light clothing. Central America is often assumed to have hot weather, but it can get cold in the countryside, mountains and at night in the winter so we suggest you check the expected temperatures en route and bring clothing that you can layer. Conditions: All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in country. Optional Extra: Antigua Chocolate making workshop USD24, Antigua Bike tour USD30, Antigua Santiago Zamora village tour USD10, Antigua Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour USD45, Antigua Salsa lessons (per hour) USD7, San Ignacio Cahal Pech Ruins USD10, San Ignacio Xunantunich Ruins Entrance only USD10, San Ignacio Iguana Conservation Project USD9, San Ignacio Actun Tunichil Muknal: ATM Caves inc. transport to Belize City, guide and lunch (requires a minimum of 2 travellers to run) USD120, Caye Caulker Guided snorkelling trip (full day) USD75, Caye Caulker Guided snorkelling trip (half day) USD35, Caye Caulker Sunset sail USD37, Caye Caulker Manatee tour USD60, Caye Caulker Sea kayaking (half day) USD25, Caye Caulker Stand up paddle board rental (per hour) USD22, Caye Caulker Bike rental (per day) USD15, Tulum Archaeological site visit USD10, Tulum Snorkel rental (per day) USD12, Tulum Bike rental (per day) USD10, Chichen Itza Guided tour USD80, Playa del Carmen Dos Ojos Cenote snorkelling entrance fee MXN200, Playa del Carmen Bike rental (per day) USD10, Playa del Carmen Ferry to Cozumel USD28 Not included: No meals are included on this tour
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