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Best of Guatemala & Mexico

Trip type: 
Wildlife
Adventure level: 
3. Moderate
Max group size: 
12
Avg user rating: 
4
Guatemala, Mexico | 14 days
Trip code: 
QVSB
What's included: 

Transport - Minibus, public bus, boat

Accommodation - Hotels (12 nts)

Meals - Not included

Trip Highlights: 
Marvel at Tikal's jungle ruins
Walk the cobbled streets of colonial Antigua
Relax on palm fringed beaches and snorkel in warm waters
Diverse scenery
see full itinerary >>

You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
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Itinerary for Best of Guatemala & Mexico

(Departures in 2014-15)
  • Day 1/2 - Antigua
  • Day 3-4 - Flores/Tikal
  • Day 5/6 - San Ignacio
  • Day 7-9 - Caye Caulker
  • Day 10-11 - Tulum
  • Day 12-13 - Playa Del Carmen
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »
Day
1/2
Antigua

Antigua

Hola! Welcome to Guatemala.

You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting tonight at 6pm. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. Please ask a member of reception for this information. After the group meeting there is the option of joining the group for dinner.

If you arrive early, make sure you visit Chichicastenango (Thursdays and Sundays only), arguably one of Central America most interesting and varied markets.

The following day is free for you to explore 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.

While in Antigua, make sure you try tamales, a local dish usually prepared on weekends and served in a corn leaf. Or 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 next to the artesian market close to the bus station.

If you're into salsa dancing or you'd like to learn some moves, Antigua is the place to do it. Many dancing schools offer hourly lessons that give you the preparation to hit the discos at night and showcase your moves.

Please note you leave Antigua early in the morning of day 3. Antigua is a wonderful city and previous travellers have indicated they could have spent more time here. So we strongly recommend you arrive in Antigua one or two days before trip starts to see all the sights. Please contact us if you need assistance to arrange any pre departure accommodation.

Optional Activities

  • Bicycle tour - USD30
  • Mayan horoscopes - USD60
  • Santiago Zamora Village tour - USD10
  • Coffee / Macadamia nut plantation tour - USD20
  • Volcanoes climb - USD16

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
3-4
Flores/Tikal

Flores/Tikal

In the city you board a so-called Pullmann bus that takes us to the north of the country, into the hot lowlands, so have your bug spray at the ready... The luxury of the Pullmann bus is that you have your own seat and the chance of you seating next to some farm animals (chicken, pigs etc) is rather small. The bus ride that takes us to Flores is about 8 hours, but there are stops where you can stretch, use the toilet and buy some food. As always, it is a good idea to have drinking water with you.

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 locals still get about in the traditional way, by dug-out canoe. You have time to stroll through the cobblestone streets past pastel-coloured buildings, buy local handicrafts or take a dip in Lake Peten Itza.

The following day your tour leader will arrange a tour of the ruins of Tikal.

The ruins of Tikal tower above the jungle of the Tikal National Park. The five main granite temples 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. If you are lucky you will also see the howler and the spider monkeys that live in the area. After the guided tour you head back to Flores, which takes about an hour. When visiting the ruins make sure you bring protection for the sun and plenty of bug spray.

Back in Flores you can enjoy the early evening with a cold Gallo beer (the local brew) sitting on one of the terrace restaurants overlooking the lake. If there are few clouds you will have a spectacular sunset.

Included Activities

  • Tour of Tikal Ruins and National Park

Optional Activities

  • Lake Peten Itza boat tour - USD6
  • Birdwatching boat tour - USD25
  • El Castillo Fort - USD5

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
5/6

San Ignacio

Today it is time to say good bye to Guatemala and head towards the border of Belize. The journey to the border is on a dirt road, so you really feel like an explorer crossing from one country to another. Its about a three hour drive from Flores to San Ignacio.

Belize is the only country in Central America where the official language is English, so here it will be a lot easier for you to make conversation with locals even if you don't speak Spanish. The Belizeans are known for their relaxed and easy going way of life. Walk slow and enjoy life is the motto here. You will be amazed how many different cultures live together peacefully in this tiny country.

You have a full day at your leisure to discover San Ignacio. This beautiful town is surrounded by fast flowing rivers, waterfalls and Mayan ruins, and is an ideal base to explore the region.

Some of the optional activities include a day trip to Xunantunich, an impressive Mayan ceremonial centre with panoramic views of the countryside. The east side of one of the temples has a unique stucco frieze and the central plaza has three carved stelae. Getting to the site is half the fun: you'll need to take a hand-cranked ferry to cross the river.

It is also possible to take a day trip to the Mountain Pine Ridge area to visit waterfalls, warm swimming holes and a huge system of caves. The cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal is a living museum of Mayan relics. 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.

For those who can't get enough jungle fun, there are also opportunities to go tubing or canoeing. And for those who would like some time to reflect on the beauty of nature, there is always the option to visit San Ignacio's butterfly garden.

In the late afternoon and at night, many little barbeque street stalls open and serve huge portions. Make sure you give it a try, sit down next to the road, chat with the locals and enjoy a juicy, tasty chicken leg.

Optional Activities

  • Bicycle hire (per hour) - USD3
  • River tubing - USD95
  • Panta Trail - USD8
  • Canoe rental - USD20
  • Full-day caving - USD110
  • Half-day caving - USD55
  • Mountain Pine Ridge day trip - USD75
  • Butterfly farm - USD6
  • Xunantunich - USD8

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

 

Day
7-9
Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker

Today you leave San Ignacio in the early morning and head north to Belize City on a local bus (approx 3 hours). 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 you will transfer to a water taxi. These water taxis have scheduled services to the different Cayes that are situated in the blue waters of the Caribbean sea. The water taxi takes about 45 minutes and brings us right to our next destination, Caye Caulker.

Caye Caulker is an easy-going island that has a distinctly Caribbean feel. Small and friendly with a sandy main road, the only thing to do here is relax or explore Belize's underwater worlds. Relax on the beach or head out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, home to the magnificent Blue Hole and the world's second longest barrier reef. Snorkel, swim or dive among the colourful corals and see tropical fish, sharks and manta rays. There is also the opportunity to go manatee spotting. These huge peaceful creatures are often called sea cows and are curious to meet their visitors.

Caye Caulker is famous for its lobster; not the cheapest of meals but certainly delicious. But always make sure that you respect the season, the lobsters can only be caught between June 15th and February 15th.

Optional Activities

  • Snorkel equipment rental (per day) - USD7
  • Manatee & dolphin tour - USD35
  • Sea kayaking (half day) - USD25
  • Windsurfing (per hour, board and instruction) - USD20
  • Snorkel trip half day - USD35

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nts)

Day
10-11
Tulum

Tulum

Very early this morning (about 6.30am) you head back to Belize City by water taxi, and travel by bus to the border with Mexico (approx. 4 hours).

Rarely a country border crossing offers a reason to write home about however, the border between Mexico and Belize can be the exception. Extremely busy at times, with non-existing signals, muddy roads and street sellers everywhere you look, this crossing has it all to become a cultural experience in itself. Please listen to and follow your leader's instructions as if you lose sight of the group, it can be very easy to get lost.

After crossing the border you head to the Mexican town of Chetumal where you swap buses and head to our final destination: Tulum (approx. 3 hrs)

Tulum is a beach paradise on the Caribbean coast and our home for the next day. 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.

Optional Activities

  • Full day guided bike tour - USD40
  • Tulum ruins - USD8

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day
12-13
Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

The last leg of our journey is a short one after all this travelling. You hop on a local Mexican bus that will take us to Playa del Carmen (approx. 1.5 hours), our departure destination.

In Playa del Carmen you will have some time to do some souvenir shopping and enjoy international food in this booming tourist town.

Here you also might 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 before heading out to try the island's vibrant nightlife. For adventures further a field take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, and island famous for its reef diving.

You can depart any time on day 13 as there are no planned activities that day. Please ask your tour leader If you need any assistance arranging transport to the airport.

The closest airport to Playa del Carmen is Cancun Airport, which is located approximately one hour away from Playa. The easiest way to get to the airport is by taxi. Please ask your leader or hotel staff to help you arrange a taxi if needed. You should expect to pay anything between US$50 and $60 per taxi.

Optional Activities

  • Xel-Ha Water park - USD90
  • Bicycle rental (per day) - USD8
  • Xcaret - USD90
  • Ferry to Cozumel - USD25
  • Cenote Ikil - USD5

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)