Cookies

At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more


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

12 days from £3,422pp

Book Holiday Enquire online

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

This fortnight-long honeymoon combines two countries which couldn’t be more different. Guatemala is steeped in indigenous and Spanish colonial tradition and religious mysticism. Belize, a truly Caribbean country, is English-speaking, utterly laid-back, and a popular destination for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. It’s a real treat to be able to combine the two in a holiday which travels at a lazy pace: you are based in just three places, each so different from one another, staying in intimate but high quality properties where the attention is on premium service.

Start off in Antigua, Guatemala’s colonial masterpiece. From there, make a day-trip to Chichicastenango market and the serene setting of Lake Atitlán, encircled by volcanoes, handkerchief-sized fields and tiny indigenous villages. On to jungle-stifled Flores and a visit to Tikal, the vast Mayan ruined city where ancient temples and pyramids penetrate the rainforest canopy. Cross the border into Belize and round off the holiday at the sugar white beaches of low-key Placencia, maybe with a bit of snorkelling or scuba diving.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Antigua and transfer to your hotel.

Day 2

Guided walking tour of Antigua and a coffee farm.

Day 3

Guided day trip to Chichicastenango market and Lake Atitlán.

Day 4

At leisure in Antigua.

Day 5

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

Day 6-7

Guided excursion to explore Lake Yaxhá, and Topoxte.

Day 8

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

Days 9-11

At leisure on the beach.

Day 12

Fly to Belize City and connect with international flight.

Detailed itinerary

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.

Show more Show less

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.

Show more Show less
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.

Show more Show less
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.

Show more Show less

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.

 

Show more Show less
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.

Show more Show less

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.

Show more Show less
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.
Show more Show less

Day 12

Fly to Belize City and connect with international flight.

Essential information

Transport

4 flights (longest 1hr); 2 road journeys (longest 2hrs).

Accommodation

For this holiday we have chosen a mix of accommodation styles, all top quality properties and perfect for a relaxing holiday. They all have excellent and convenient locations, very personal service and good facilities.

Meals

Breakfast daily; full board 5-7.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by them on their return.

Included excursions

  • Guided walking tour of Antigua and a coffee farm.
  • Guided visit to Chichicastenango market and Lake Atitlán.
  • Guided tour of the Mayan ruins at Tikal.
  • Tour to explore Lake Yaxhá, and Topoxte.

Summary of nights

12 days, 11 nights: Antigua 4; Flores 3; Placencia 4.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• International flights to Latin America.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.

Currency

The unit of currency in Guatemala is the quetzal.  In Belize it’s the Belize dollar.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$45 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that you also take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). Dollar bills should be in good condition; soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, which restricts the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential.          

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip. This holiday is suitable for those wishing to combine first class facilities with a bit of adventure and plenty of time to relax in one’s own time.

If you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us. In the summer the weather can be extremely hot and humid.

Climate

Travellers in May to October are likely to encounter high temperatures (around 35°C) and high humidity in the lowlands. There are likely to be some short bursts of heavy rainfall during these months. 

December to April visitors will still encounter high temperatures in the lowlands, but cooler evenings in the Guatemalan highlands. Rainfall and humidity will be lower at this time.

Clothing and special equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes. Some warm items and good waterproof jackets are also necessary. We suggest that you plan to ‘layer’ your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper, and sensible to have long sleeves for areas where mosquitos may be a problem. 

Sandals are a good informal option for evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellant are essential and you should bring swimwear. A daypack is useful for carrying sunblock, guidebook, water and any extra layers.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in Central America.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets (unlikely for this holiday). For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to or via the USA, you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online. This costs $14 per person, and must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/destinations/guatemala/holidays/explore-and-relax-guatemala-and-belize-mayan-temples-and-caribbean-beaches/trip-dossier

Page ID: {3B7E9B7C-529A-4AFD-8BC1-A9BB26FDEE33}

Page Name: trip-dossier

Page Display Name: Trip Dossier

Page Template Name: T054-TripDossier

Page Template ID: {4B17EDBB-85D2-4A79-B178-A0CE05055C05}

Parent ID: {FB869CA0-B586-47FF-BE2D-82F1B6AAC7C5}

Parent Name: explore-and-relax-guatemala-and-belize-mayan-temples-and-caribbean-beaches

Parent Display Name: Explore and Relax Guatemala and Belize: Mayan temples and Caribbean beaches

Parent Template Name: T013-Tour

Parent Template ID: {9701B79C-85FD-4A45-8072-3FFF55338F72}