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Honeymoon in Guatemala and Belize: Volcanoes, lakes and desert islands

14 days from £3563pp

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Honeymoon in Guatemala and Belize: Volcanoes, lakes and desert islands

14 days from £3563pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Antigua and transfer to 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.

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 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.

Volcano over Antigua

Day 3

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.

Day 4

Transfer to Panajachel, via Chichicastenango market.
 

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 ramshackle 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.

Colourful woven blankets in Chichicastenango

Day 5

Learn local fishing methods in San Juan Laguna.
 

Your accommodation at the lake couldn’t be more dreamy: an exclusive boutique hotel with lake and volcano views from the infinity pool. But you will tear yourselves away for a fascinating tour. A private boat will transport you across the full length of the lake to the village of San Juan La Laguna on its western edge.

You will meet and see first-hand how the local fishermen venture into the lake each day and fish using age-old techniques to catch what will be their daily meal. Here you will also learn about the recent project initiated by local people to raise and maintain fish levels and lessen the negative impact on the ecological balance of fishing. This trip can be combined with a cycle ride or hike if you wish. Note that lake tours are weather-dependent.

Local fisherman on Lake Panajachel

Day 6

Boat excursion on Lake Atitlán.
 

Take a motor launch across the lake to Santiago de Atitlán. Cruising over the calm and silent morning waters, you’ll have wonderful views of the various shoreline hamlets and cultivated fields alongside some grand houses, and beyond to the gently sloping bottle-green volcanoes that encircle the water. You are greeted as you alight at Santiago by enthusiastic children, and the town is an excellent place to buy brilliantly coloured textiles.

The children may also offer to guide you to the current resting place of the smoking, drinking, be-hatted and roguish local idol, Maximón, who is moved to a different house each year, and looked after by a diligent entourage. He’s certainly not politically correct but he will help you with your problems in exchange for a suitable financial donation.

 

Day 7

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

You’re driven (2 hours) to the airport in Guatemala City 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.

Jungle shrouded mayan site of Tikal

Days 8-9

Guided excursion to explore remote sites of 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 occupational history that 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.

Day 10

Fly to Belize City. Fly to Ambergris Caye, coral atoll in the Caribbean.
 

Drive to Flores and fly via Belize City to Ambergris Caye, the most northerly and largest island in Belize, 46km long, and a breathtaking 15min flight low over transparent turquoise waters from Belize City. The island offers a splendid vantage point from which to enjoy the Belize Barrier Reef less than a kilometre from the shores of the relaxed main town of San Pedro, with its wide choice of restaurants and bars. The island’s main attraction is the first class diving, snorkelling and fishing on offer.

This is your beach time. Matachica Resort and Spa is a stylish and exclusive hideaway set on a secluded glistening white-sand beach reached only by boat from the town of San Pedro. The ambience at the resort is, in spite of its luxury, decidedly laid-back.

 

Days 11-13

At leisure.
 
At leisure at the resort. There is a large freshwater infinity pool and Jacuzzi. The resort can arrange diving (including PADI tuition, but it does not have its own dive shop), snorkelling and fishing. There is complimentary use of kayaks, sunfish dinghies, surf boards and snorkelling gear. You can also borrow a bike to explore the surroundings.
Ambergris Caye, Belize

Day 14

Boat to San Pedro. Fly to Belize City and connect with international flight.
 

14 days from £3563pp

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