You’ll begin in the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Antigua. Then you’ll be gliding across the placid Lake Atitlan and visiting quaint Indian villages, before stepping into the ancient Mayan world of Tikal dating back to 900 BC.
Wonders of a different type await in the broadleaf rainforest of Cayo in Belize – the home of jaguars, tapirs and 300 species of exotic birds. Your tour culminates on a beach, complete with a luxury hotel and indulgent spa.
London – Miami – Guatemala City – Antigua
Fly out of London Heathrow in the morning to arrive in Miami in the middle of the afternoon. Your connecting flight to Guatemala City arrives in the evening, and you’ll be met and taken to your hotel in Antigua.
Your first day in Antigua will be taken up with an absorbing walking tour of this interesting city – built in 1776 on the ruins of a disastrous earthquake and laid out on the lines of an Italian Renaissance city. Its superb buildings have helped gain it a UNESCO World Heritage listing and you’ll visit the ruins of the old Spanish era as well as the glorious Antigua Cathedral, the Merced Monastery and the San Franciscan Monastery.
You’ll also have plenty of time to wander around the colourful markets, cobbled streets, galleries, boutiques and museums – discovering your own Antigua. You can even try mountain biking and hiking ventures, volcano climbing and visiting a local coffee plantation.
Stay: Three nights in a junior suite at Hotel El Convento.
Aldous Huxley referred to this lake as ‘the most beautiful in the world’. The locals, of course, will agree and you will find it difficult to argue otherwise. The lake is ringed by the towering conical shapes of the impressive San Pedro, Atitlan and Toliman volcanoes, whilst its shoreline has a picturesque scattering of traditional Indian villages; each with its own style of dress, textile design and handicraft specialities.
Your second day at Lake Atitlan includes a private tour of the lake in all its glory. You’ll learn about the age-old customs of the local Mayan villages and their worship of Maximom, before moving on to Santiago – famous for its primitive art and prized woven tunics known as huipiles. You’ll also have time for mountain biking and kayaking, hiking through farmlands or even taking a helicopter flight over the volcanoes.
Stay: Two nights in a junior suite at Hotel Atitlan.
Lake Atitlan – Guatemala City – Tikal
Today you are chauffeured back to Guatemala City – calling in at Chichicastenango Market along the way. Here you’ll experience a riot of colour, noise, fragrances, local produce, handicrafts and traditionally-dressed people.
From Guatemala City you’ll fly to Flores and drive to a nearby eco-lodge. So you’ll be perfectly positioned to experience Tikal; the country’s most famous Mayan site. You’ll be able to wander around the great buildings of a mighty empire surrounded by encroaching rainforest, accompanied by the chatter of troupes of monkeys and the calls of exotic birds.
Stay: Two nights in a double standard room at Villa Maya.
Now you cross into Belize and journey on to the foothills of the Maya Mountains in Cayo District. You’ll be staying close to the Roaring River and the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, in a lodge that encompasses an ancient Mayan plazuela group. It’s the ideal spot for experiencing the life of a semi-deciduous broadleaf tropical rainforest with its huge mahogany, cedar and ceiba trees. As well as watching out for jaguars, tapirs and over 300 species of birds you can hike or ride horses beneath the jungle canopy. You can go caving at nearby Actu Tunichil Mucnal, swim in the Roaring River and discover the area’s abundant natural history.
Stay: Three nights in a cabana at Pook’s Hill.
Belize City – San Pedro – Ambergris Caye
A drive through scenic countryside takes you to Belize City Airport from where you’ll fly to San Pedro. A water taxi completes your journey to a luxurious beachside resort. Now you have the time and opportunity to dive in the crystal waters of the world famous Ambergris Caye, go snorkelling to encounter shoals of multi-coloured fish, paddle a sea kayak or pedal a boat along the coast. Or take a bicycle tour of the surrounding countryside. Alternatively, you could simply relax, laze on an immaculate beach, indulge yourself in the hotel spa or take a trip into the buzzing town of San Pedro – just five miles away.
Stay: Four nights in a sea view casita at Mata Chica Resort & Spa.
Ambergris Caye – Belize City – Miami – London
From Ambergris you take a short flight to Belize International and onwards to Miami arriving in the middle of the afternoon. Your connecting flight departs later in the evening and arrives in London the following morning.