And if you think that the perfect country-wide tour involves a generous helping of them all. Highlights of Guatemala will take you from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Antigua - close to Guatemala City – to the beauty of Lake Atitlan; a sight that inspired Aldous Huxley.
You’ll also visit the Mayan archaeological sites of Copan and world famous Tikal, cruise along the Rio Dulce and marvel at the forests of Flores.
London – Miami – Guatemala City
You’ll fly out of London Heathrow in the morning, bound for Miami where you’ll board your connecting flight to Guatemala City. You arrive in the evening to be met and taken to your hotel in nearby Antigua.
The next day you embark on a private walking tour of the city, including visits to Antigua Cathedral, and the Merced and San Francisco monasteries. In the afternoon you’ll have time to explore this charming old town, laid out on a similar grid system to the cities of the Italian Renaissance, and now a prized UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stay: Two nights in a junior suite at Hotel El Convento.
Today you will be driven to another scene of spectacular beauty; Lake Atitlan. The towering cones of three volcanoes – San Pedro, Atitlan and Toliman – march in a circle around the lake whilst traditional Indian villages nestle on its shore. Here you’ll be able to go on great walks through villages and farmlands. You can set off on mountain biking expeditions and kayaking trips or fly over the volcanoes themselves in a helicopter. A half day tour of Santiago starts at the harbour and encompasses a cultural visit to learn about the local customs, dress, crafts and a deity called Maximom.
Stay: Two nights in a standard room at Hotel Atitlan.
An enchanting scenic road trip takes you back to Antigua, but along the way you’ll stop for a guided tour of Chichicastenango Market – a huge kaleidoscope of colourful local flowers, fruits and farm produce, traditional handicrafts, hand woven textiles, clothes and – not to be missed – rebozos or shawls that are a speciality of the region.
Stay: One night in a junior suite at Hotel El Convento.
A five hour drive, full of wonderful landscapes, takes you to Copan where you’ll stay in a luxurious hotel overlooking the famous archaeological site. From this base you’ll be able to go horse riding, visit the local hot springs for a spa treatment and take a private guided tour around the impressive Copan ruins. You’ll see the wonders of Las Sepulturas – the country’s only restored Mayan residence – the Ball Court, the Archeaological Plaza and the Stairway with its finely carved hieroglyphs. A true insight into the Mayan world that includes being able to browse around the Copan Sculpture Museum and its tunnel replicas.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at Hacienda San Lucas.
Natural wonders await today as you journey into the Rio Dulce region with its profuse greenery, tropical forests, interesting flora and fauna and, of course, the emerald green waters of the Rio Dulce itself. You’ll be staying in an eco-hotel with a swimming pool, yacht club and delightful marina.
Stay: One night in a suite at Eco Hotel Nana Juana.
More natural wonders reveal themselves as you take a boat trip along the river, gliding through an impressive central canyon towards the coastal Garfuna town of Livingston. Along the way you’ll sail past quaint riverside villages and pass through forests and mangroves, spotting a huge variety of exotic birds and perhaps even manatees near the Biotopo Chocon Machacas. You’ll stop at hot springs for a restorative bathe before sailing on to visit the school at Ak Tenamit where you can meet the Mayan pupils. Finally you arrive at the coast and the interesting town of Livingston where you’ll have time to explore before catching the boat back to Rio Dulce.
Next day your guide will show you the archaeological treasures of Tikal; the most famous of all Guatemala’s Mayan sites, with its temples rising out of the jungle. Your exploration of the ancient Mayan civilisation will be accompanied by the noisy chatter of monkeys and the calls of indigenous birds.
Stay: Two nights in the Hummingbird suite in Nitun Lodge.
After Mayan Tikal you’ll be able to appreciate some more modern – and luxurious – architecture. Today you’ll be driven back to Guatemala City via Flores. You’ll be staying in an exclusive hotel jest a few miles from the city centre, and you’ll have the time and all the amenities needed for complete relaxation – or to play a few games of tennis or squash.
Stay: One night in a standard deluxe room at Westin Camino Real Guatemala City.
Guatemala City – Miami – London
You leave Guatemala City at around midday and land in Miami to meet your evening flight to London, arriving at Heathrow the following morning.