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Explore and Relax Guatemala and Belize: Mayan temples and Caribbean beaches

12 days from £3,422pp

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Explore and Relax Guatemala and Belize: Mayan temples and Caribbean beaches

12 days from £3,422pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Antigua and transfer to your hotel.
 

You will be met by our local representative and taken to your hotel in the old colonial capital, Antigua. It’s a journey of about one hour along a winding paved road. You are staying in a romantic restored colonial monastery.

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Day 2

Guided walking tour of Antigua and a coffee farm.
 

The city is a colonial work of art, with cobbled streets, overhanging tiled roofs and a beautiful, leafy central plaza. There’s an abundance of huge ruined churches, convents and monasteries, testament to a time when Antigua was the country’s capital and its main religious centre. You’ll have plenty of time to absorb this fascinating city, including on a walking tour of the historic centre. It seems that every doorway opens onto a fragrant tiled courtyard.

A dramatic backdrop of smouldering volcanoes and ruined churches and convents surrounded by parkland bear witness to the city’s destruction by a volcanic eruption in 1773. There’s a guided tour of a coffee farm as well. Guatemalan coffee is well regarded throughout the world: volcanic soil on sunny slopes is the perfect environment for its cultivation.

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Central Antigua

Day 3

Guided day trip to Chichicastenango market and Lake Atitlán.
 

Travel by a gradually-ascending road to Lake Atitlán. The landscapes in the highlands west of Antigua are dominated by watchful volcanoes and compact, busy farming villages. The lake is one of the most captivating in the world and its beauty has been eulogised by poets and travellers.  On a sunny day, the closely forested volcanic cones are reflected in cobalt waters. Traditional villages and indigenous agricultural settlements skirt its fertile shores, each with its own character and identity, its own dialect and often a unique costume still worn by the proud inhabitants.

En route you’ll stop at Chichicastenango market. This chilly mountain town, which has a decidedly mystical air, is where the symbols and practices of overt Catholicism sit side by side or even amalgamate with esoteric Mayan religious ceremonies, centred round the simple, whitewashed façade of the church. There is a vast, bustling market, and you can wander the labyrinthine streets. Here are textiles, clothes and tapestries of striking colour and extraordinary intricacy, as well as extravagant hand-carved masks and good-quality leather goods. Local farmers both barter and sell an array of fruit and vegetables from the surrounding villages.

Return to Antigua.

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Textiles in Chichicastenango

Day 4

At leisure in Antigua.
 

At leisure in Antigua.  The city is a welcoming place to relax and unwind, do some shopping in tempting boutiques and art galleries and enjoy the excellent food in a large range of restaurants and pavement cafés. Wander around the courtyards and enjoy the floral displays in beautifully tended gardens.

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Day 5

Fly to Flores in the jungle Petén region; guided tour of the Mayan ruins at Tikal.
 

You’re driven (1hr) to Guatemala City airport for an hour-long flight to Flores, in the sticky jungles of northern Guatemala, and from here you continue to your lodge. There will be a guided tour of the archaeological site at Tikal. Steep-stepped and vertiginous temples emerge high above the rainforest canopy; the views over the site from one of these ancient skyscrapers are unforgettable. Spend the day wandering through the palace complexes.

Tikal was one of the largest and most important Mayan city states, reaching its peak around AD800 prior to its mysterious demise. The pyramids and temples seem frozen in time, but you’re brought back to the present by the roar of curious howler monkeys and lithe spider monkeys as they swing through the trees; and by flashes of colour as toucans and parrots take flight.

You are staying at La Lancha, a unique and innovative property conceived and owned by the film director Francis Ford Coppola.  You’ll sleep in a cottage with a view over jungle-fringed lake Petén.

 

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Tikal , Guatemala

Day 6-7

Guided excursion to explore Lake Yaxhá, and Topoxte.
 

During your stay at La Lancha there is a guided tour of the ruins at Tikal, and also a guided trip to the ceremonial centre of Yaxhá, located between the two lakes of Yaxhá and Sacnab. Visit Topoxte, a site with a long history of occupation, which was deserted by 900 AD, revived then finally abandoned in AD 1450. After lunch, explore Yaxhá, an important Mayan site with over 500 structures including 40 stelae, two ball courts and nine temple pyramids. End the tour atop a lofty temple to view the jungle and two lakes.

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Day 8

By road to the Belize border and fly to Placencia. On by road to beach hotel.
 

You’re driven to just beyond the Belize border, then take a light aircraft-flight via Belize City to Placencia, on the tip of a long peninsula in the south of the country. The village is a friendly and low-key beach resort typified by its ramshackle and colourful wooden houses built on stilts, linked by paths weaving under swaying palms. With some of Belize's finest beaches and one or two top notch hotels, it is developing into an increasingly popular tourist retreat. The nearby Monkey River and Placencia Lagoon provide good opportunities for spotting wildlife including the rare manatee.

You are staying at the charming, unique and idiosyncratic Turtle Inn, which lies behind a small sandy beach 3km from the village. Like La Lancha, it’s a luxury property conceived and owned by American film director Francis Ford Coppola.

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Aerial view of Placencia

Days 9-11

At leisure on the beach.
 
At leisure at the resort. There’s complimentary use of cycles, kayaks, windsurfers and Hobie cats; the dive shop (at extra cost) can organise scuba diving, snorkelling and fishing excursions, and a variety of land-based trips.
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Day 12

Fly to Belize City and connect with international flight.

12 days from £3,422pp

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About Private Journeys

Private Journeys are pre-planned holidays crafted by our experts, featuring routes and combinations that are proven to work well.


Journey with the UK's NO1 specialist in travel to latin america

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Wanderlust

Food and Travel Magazine Readers' Awards - Tour Operator of The Year 2016

Selling Travel Agents Choice Awards - Best Tour Operator to Latin America 2016

Sunday Times Travel Magazine - Editor's Award 2013

Guardian and Observer Travel Awards - Top Ten Small Tour Operator: 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine Awards - Best Value Tour Operator 2011

Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Awards - Top Ten Specialist Tour Operator 2016

Wanderlust Readers' Travel Awards - Top Ten Tour Operator 2015

British Travel Awards - Best Small Tour Operator to Central and South America 2012

Latin American Travel Association - Award for Customer Service 2012

Sunday Times Travel Magazine Awards - Best Specialist Tour Operator 2011

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