Day 1 Depart USA, Arrive Guatemala
- Exploring the colonial charms of Antigua with your personal guide
- The spectacular views of Lake Atitlan from your lakefront hotel
- Spending the night in a luxury hotel, part of a working coffee plantation
- Discovering the hidden wonders of Tikal and Copan with your private archaeological guides
You take a morning flight to Guatemala City and with the time change arrive late morning. Once through customs formalities you are met by your guide and transferred to Antigua and your boutique hotel conveniently located in the center of this charming colonial city. You check in to your suite for a chance to relax and freshen up. This evening your host will take you to one of Antigua's many fine restaurants for an a la carte dinner.
Day 2 A Walking Tour of Colonial Antigua
Today your guide will take you on a walking tour of "La Antigua" (the old one) the former colonial capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala which combines 17th and 18th century buildings and ruins with modern amenities. Established as Santiago in 1543 after a mudslide destroyed the former capital, the town's history was punctuated by massive earthquakes, followed by rebuilding and reparation, until the earthquake of Santa Marta in 1773 prompted a move to the present capital in Guatemala City. During your tour you will visit Church of La Merced, the Cathedral with the front portion restored and in use and the back portion in ruins. You will also visit The Monastery of San Francisco with the church dedicated to Guatemala's only saint. After your walk it's time for a pleasant lunch. You then have the afternoon free to continue your exploration. The Plaza Real is highly recommended since this was the center of government, commerce and society a pleasant spot for people watching. It's only a short distance to your hotel where, after freshening up you are met by your host who will take you to another quality restaurant for dinner.
Day 3 A Coffee Farm Visit and the Drive to Lake Atitlan
After breakfast you will be met by your guide for the trip to Lake Atitlan. Your luggage is loaded in the car and you are on your way. The first stop will be on the outskirts of Antigua where you can visit the local workshops of the woodcarvers and the attractive pink and white façade of the Jocotenango church. Your next stop will be the Azoteo coffee farm where you learn about the importance of coffee in Guatemalan commerce and life. Then it's off to Lake Atitlan. When you arrive at your hotel, lunch will be waiting. After lunch you have the chance to relax and look out on the Lake which Aldous Huxley described as being" the most beautiful lake in the world".
Day 4 The Diverse Cultures of the Atitlan Lakeside Dwellers
There are two branches of the Mayan resident on the lake shore of Atitlan, one, the Tz'utjiles, and the other the Kaqchikeles. While they live together in peace today such was not always the case but we will leave it up to your expert guide to explain. That guide will meet you in the morning and take you to the dock where you board a private boat which will take you to two separate and distinct towns on the shores of the lake. The first is San Juan La Laguna which has one of the best sandy beaches on the lake. For the inhabitants, less than 8,000, the traditions of farming and fishing compliment the weaving of reed mats, called petates, and textiles. Many of the women have organized themselves into a cooperative and we will have the chance to view some of their work which is both colorful and decorative. We then proceed to Santiago which is the largest town with a population of 32,000. Here, you will have lunch while immersing yourself in the local culture. The stunning men's pants and women's huipiles (blouses) are woven and then beautifully embroidered with birds. Santiago is home to one of the three "original" Maximon characters, a pagan deity or god who receives offerings of alcohol and cigars. After experiencing this unique and unusual culture you return to the hotel.
Day 5 It’s Market Day in Chichicastenango… and you’re going!
Today you are fortunate to have the ability to attend market day in Chichicastenango. This market is home to what is surely the most colorful market in all the Americas. Vendors from all over Guatemala, representing many of the linguistic groups such as Mam, Ixil, Kaqchikel and others, each hawking their products in a riotous cacophony of color, dialects, costumes, smoke and smells. In the middle of all this mayhem you will suddenly come upon the Church of Santo Tomás. The church was founded in 1701 by a Dominican Priest who created what is called the "K'iche' Bible" allowing Mayan religious ceremonies including the offering of colored candles, flower petals and alcohol; alongside Catholic worship. You will visit the church and the "Shrine of Turqa'", located on a ridge a short distance from the church. The carved stone idol is used for rituals including curing, fertility and commemorations. The ceremonies are unscheduled and usually private, however, a chuchkajau (local prayer leader) is sometimes available to conduct ceremonies on request, so be prepared. After lunch you will be driven to Filadelfia Coffee resort, a luxury hotel located in a 750 acre working coffee plantation. Upon arrival you enjoy dinner in their fine restaurant
Day 6 Copan and the Hacienda San Lucas
After a leisurely breakfast, washed down by some of the finest and freshest coffee, tour guide will be ready to take you to Copan Ruinas, across the border in Honduras and close to one of the major remnants of Mayan civilization, Copan. Our initial destination is the Hacienda San Lucas, an authentic colonial hacienda with just eight rooms but abundant charm. After enjoying a family style lunch you are ready to take a gentle ride on horseback through the Copan valley. Don't worry about your riding experience, these animals know what to do and that is to show the valley in its best light. After the return you can sit on the patio of the hacienda looking out on the ruins as they stand out through the trees Later we sit in family style and enjoy good food and good conversation.
Day 7 A Discovery of Copan with David William Sedat
David William Sedat was born in Guatemala and has lived much of his life in Central America. For the past fourteen years he has been Field Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum's Copan project. He has tunneled into the royal tombs and discovered artifacts noted in National Geographic and on several television documentaries. David and his associates will give you a full day discovery of this remarkable site, seen through the eyes of recognized experts. David's vision is to reunify the ancient Maya realms of Copan and Quirigua, in Guatemala thorough a system of trekking trails and experimental botanical gardens by which many local communities throughout the hinterland can become involved in sustainable agriculture and tourism,. We support this effort and we're sure you will to.
Day 8 The Road and River to Livingston
After breakfast at the Hacienda, your will be taken back across the border to Livingston and the chance to experience the unique Garifuna culture derived from black slaves who escaped the Island of Roatan in Honduras to establish a new culture on the Caribbean Sea. On your way to Livingston you stop along the way for lunch before arriving at the dock at Rio Dulce which, translated means "Sweet River". Here you board a boat which takes you about twenty eight miles through a changing landscape of flat rainforest, to sheer canyon cliff walls. You will pass old Spanish forts, modern marinas, natural hot springs, manatee breeding grounds and abundant wildlife until your reach the Caribbean coastal town of Livingston. Upon arrival you are transferred to your hotel.
Day 9 Livingston and the “Garifuna” Culture
After breakfast you will be met by a local guide who will take you on a walking tour of this interesting and even eccentric town. Livingston is named after American jurist and politician, Edward Livingston who wrote the Livingstone Codes which were used as the basis for the laws of the liberal government of the United States of Central America in the early 19th Century. Since the town is only accessible by water or air, it has developed its own culture more in common with its Caribbean neighbors than its fellow countrymen. As you explore the town a coco loco or a pina colada will be offered to fuel the activity. You return to your hotel where you have lunch. Following lunch you take the boat to Rio Dulce where your driver is waiting to take you to the Department of Petén which comprises almost one third of Guatemala but is the least populated. With an altitude below 500 feet, this area is home to rainforests and ancient Mayan cities. Our destination is the town of Flores which is situated on the isle of Peten Itza and connected to the mainland by a causeway. From the 15th to the 17th Century, this was the site of the Maya City Tayasal. It was the last Maya stronghold to fall under the dominance of the Spanish in 1697. This date marks the end of the Maya civilization. The Spanish soldiers destroyed all the "pagan" temples and pyramids leaving no trace visible today. Upon reaching the island you arrive at your hotel and eco-lodge with only four individual villas and situated right on pristine Lake Peten Itza. The owners pride themselves on there cooking and the kitchen is open to all.
Day 10 Dawn on the Lake, Sunset on the Pyramids
This morning you can relax over breakfast (but beware of dive-bombing hummingbirds going after your fruit), take a dip in the crystal clear lake or take a stroll around part of the 3,400 acres of unspoiled rainforest owned by the lodge. After lunch and perhaps a nap, you will be taken to Yaxha a Mayan site discovered in 1904. It was occupied from 800 BC until the arrival of the Spanish in 1600 AD and covers about two square miles with more than 500 buildings discovered so far, including the only twin pyramid complex outside of Tikal. You will climb part way up the pyramid to toast the sunset with some cold white wine and fresh fruit. You will then return to the hotel taking advantage of the darkness for some nocturnal game viewing.
Day 11 A Special Picnic in the “Place of the Voices”
Today you will experience the wonder of Tikal with your own Archaeological Guide. At its peak some 1,500 years ago, Tikal was home to an estimated 100,000 Maya and it was one of the more important urban centers of its time. This is evidenced by the more than 3,000 structures extending over six square miles Around the Great Plaza is the Temple of the Giant Jaguar which reaches a height of over 170 feet. These and other edifices will be introduced to you by your guide. During the day you stop for a gourmet picnic among the ruins. In addition to the man-made wonders, Tikal is also the refuge for most of the animals in Guatemala. Spider and Howler Monkeys are visible as well as red coatimundis, raccoons, white-tailed deer, toucans, parrots, macaws, humming birds and rare falcons as the orange breast falcon. You will enjoy tour day in Tikal and it will be a fitting end to your experience.
Day 12 Return to USA
In the morning your driver will take you to Flores airport where you catch a flight to Guatemala City and your flight home.
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Luxury Private Journeys - Guatemala and Honduras ULGU01 Location and other villas and tours nearby
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Tour Location / Places Visiteds
Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Copan, Livingston, Tikal
Additional Pricing Information
- Transfers and sightseeing by private helicopter or aircraft as indicated on the itinerary
- Superior Rooms at the properties indicated in the accommodations area (We reserve the right to substitute a property of equal quality in advance of departure should the designated hotel be unavailable)
- Private Transfers to and from the airport at destination
- All meals as indicated on the itinerary by B=Breakfast, L=Lunch and D=Dinner
- Entrance fees to all museums, attractions and other venues as indicated on the daily itinerary
- Private guides for city explorations and private driver/guide while traveling.
- Baggage handling at all hotels and camps
- All applicable taxes and service fees
Services Not Included
- International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
- Beverages with included meals (unless otherwise indicated on itinerary page)
- Any meals not indicated on the Itinerary page
- Items of a personal nature e.g. minibar, film, postcards etc.
- Gratuities to Guides and Driver/Guides (we provide suggested guidelines for your selected destination in your pre-departure material)
- Any passport or visa fees or government departure taxes (It is the traveler’s responsibility to secure the latest information regarding passports and visa requirements)
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