- Zipline through treetop canopies in Atitlán
- Embark on a family 4WD adventure up the Acatenango volcano
- Discover the ancient Maya sites of Tikal and Uaxactún
- Snorkel in Belize's famous Blue Hole
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Cooking Class||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 2||Atitlán Nature Reserve Adventure||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 3||Explore Lake Atitlán's Villages by Boat||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 4||Visit Patzicía Market, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 5||Chicken Bus Village Tour||Antigua|
|Day 6||4WD Tour of Acatenango Volcano||Antigua|
|Day 7||Antigua Walking Tour & Chocolate Workshop||Antigua|
|Day 8||Fly to Flores via Guatemala City, Transfer to Tikal National Park||Tikal National Park|
|Day 9||Discover Archaeological Wonders at Uaxactún||Tikal National Park|
|Day 10||Transfer to Belize, Caves Canoeing at Barton Creek||Blue Hole National Park|
|Day 11||Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour||Blue Hole National Park|
|Day 12||Transfer to Placencia, Snorkel at Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley||Placencia|
|Day 13||Beach Day in Placencia, Optional Jaguar Preserve Excursion||Placencia|
|Day 14||Transfer to Belize City, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Cooking Class
Welcome to Guatemala! This country's rich history dates back long before Spanish colonial conquest to the days of the ancient Maya kingdoms. Its renowned natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and fascinating ruins make it the perfect family destination. At the airport, meet your driver and transfer three hours west to Guatemala's famous Lake Atitlán, considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Keep your camera close as you drive the Pan-American Highway that stretches from Alaska to Argentina and offers panoramic vistas of the lake and surrounding volcanoes.Settle in at your accommodation, and if you're feeling peckish and eager to explore Guatemala's cuisine, this afternoon's family-friendly Maya cooking class is sure to hit the spot. A local chef will instruct you on the Maya culinary heritage, sharing their knowledge and history of the ingredients. In Maya culture, food was not just a source of nourishment but also integral to treating health issues. Learn to make dishes such as pepián (a spiced meat stew) and jocón de pollo (chicken in a tomato cilantro sauce) while the kids will get to try their hand at cooking too.
Day 2: Atitlán Nature Reserve Adventure
You're off to the Atitlán Nature Reserve (Reserva Natural de Atitlán) today, a must-see for anyone visiting the region and an especially fun excursion for the kids. Enjoy one of the guided walks as you venture deep into the forest via hanging bridges and learn about the reserve's environmental and cultural heritage. Zipline across waterfalls and steep cliffs, while adventurous older kids can take a cable bike ride suspended high in the air across the lush valley of San Buenaventura.
Stop in at the Butterfly Geodome, where little ones can see hundreds of colorful butterflies as they alight on surrounding flowers and foliage. Keep your eyes peeled for curious monkeys, tropical birds, or coatimundis, and if your family would prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground, there are several beautiful trails to hike, where you and the kids can immerse yourselves in the sights and sounds of the reserve.
Day 3: Explore Lake Atitlán's Villages by Boat
The best way to discover the beauty around Lake Atitlán and simultaneously entertain the kids is by boat. This morning you and your family will be picked up directly from your hotel's dock and take a private boat tour around the lake's Indigenous Maya villages. Visit the charming San Juan La Laguna and hike to the wonderful El Mirador de San Juan, a lookout above the lake filled with colorful paintings by local artists.
Next up is the town of Santiago Atitlán, famous for its shrine to the rapscallion deity Maximón who, while often depicted as a man in a suit and a hat, resides here adorned with colorful garlands and scarves, very much in keeping with the area's artistic feel. You'll also have the opportunity to visit a women's cooperative dedicated to backstrap-loom weaving, which has long crafted the traditional costume of the Tz'utujil people.
Day 4: Visit Patzicía Market, Transfer to Antigua
Enjoy a final breakfast on the shores of Lake Atitlán before transferring east to the town of Patzicía, in the northwest agricultural region of Chimaltenango. The town's plentiful crops produce much of Guatemala's produce, and on any given day, the market is overflowing with colorful displays of fruit and vegetables, hand-woven textiles, street-food stalls, and handicrafts. Browse the stalls with the kids and let them lead the way as you sample delicious street food and pick up some souvenirs to take home.
After the market, continue half an hour east to Antigua. One of the most well-preserved colonial cities in the Americas, full of beautifully restored architecture and bordered by volcanoes, it's easy to see why the town has earned UNESCO World Heritage status. Drop your bags at your hotel, and then the rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish.
Day 5: Chicken Bus Village Tour
Rally the kids this morning as you prepare to explore several traditional and picturesque villages around Antigua. Little ones will love the idea of traveling on the locals' favored mode of transport—the chicken bus. These brightly painted buses are the most cost-effective way to get around the country and earn their nickname from the days when locals would often ride them with pets and livestock in tow.
See the historic villages surrounding Antigua and visit the local markets as you witness an authentic slice of local life. Highlights include a visit to an artisanal chocolate workshop in San Juan de Obsipo, the tiny San Pedro Las Huerta, with magnificent views of the Fuego and Agua volcanoes, and Ciudad Vieja, the original capital of Guatemala until 1541. You'll finish the tour with a visit to the Valhalla Macadamia Farm in San Miguel Dueñas and a tostada tasting in San Antonio Aguas Calientes.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: 4WD Tour of Acatenango Volcano
Day 7: Antigua Walking Tour & Chocolate Workshop
Immerse yourselves in Antigua's history and culture this morning as you and your family explore the city's charming cobbled streets with a guided walking tour. Led by an entertaining and knowledgeable guide, visit top landmarks, such as the City Hall Palace, San Francisco Church, and the Antigua Guatemala Cathedral. Stroll the famous Santa Catalina Arch and elegant buildings around the Plaza Mayor as you and the kids hear the history and stories of this nearly 500-year-old city.
Kids and chocoholics alike will love this afternoon's activity as, after lunch, you head to Antigua's Chocolate Museum with a two-hour "bean to bar" workshop. You and the kids will learn the complete chocolate-making process starting from the cacao tree. If you can see through the experience without eating all the ingredients, you'll get to make and take home your own artisan chocolates and prepare (and taste) traditional Maya cacao drinks.
Day 8: Fly to Flores via Guatemala City, Transfer to Tikal National Park
It's time for you and the kids to channel your inner Indiana Jones today as you catch a flight north to Flores, a charming island town on Lake Petén Itzá and the gateway to Tikal National Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Tikal is the former capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya world, dating back to around 400 CE. Over the centuries, Tikal gradually succumbed to a ruinous state, hidden in the dense jungle until it was unearthed and excavated in the 20th century.
The kids will love exploring the vast temples and pyramids, including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, and the Window Palace. The Great Jaguar (Temple IV) is the jewel in the park's crown, soaring 270 feet (70 m) toward the sky. Don't forget to look up— the spider and howler monkeys hanging from the tree branches will further inspire the kids as they play among the ruins.
Day 9: Discover Archaeological Wonders at Uaxactún
There's more adventure in store today as you and the kids visit the archaeological site of Uaxactún, located 14 miles (23 km) north of Tikal. Dating back to at least 600 BCE, this site was once a sacred Maya city that housed temples and pyramids devoted to astronomy. Kids will love climbing the stepped pyramids and looking out across the ancient site and the surrounding jungles of the Maya Biosphere Reserve.
Beyond the archaeological site, you'll also find a fascinating traditional community where you can learn about a special local craft: dolls made from cornhusks decorated with beads and dried flowers. The primary source of income here is the sale of Xaté palm leaves, which are used in flower arrangements, decorating, and Easter celebrations.
Day 10: Transfer to Belize, Caves Canoeing at Barton Creek
It's time for the next leg of your family adventure as today you swap the jungle and archaeological ruins of Tikal for the Caribbean shores of Belize. Upon arrival at the Caves Creek area, you'll drop your bags off at your jungle lodge, grab a bite to eat, and make your way to Barton Creek for a guided canoe tour. Perfectly paced for little ones, you'll gently paddle through the network of fascinating caves that date back to 600 CE and learn about their Maya history. Kids will be particularly enthralled by the glittering crystal formations formed millions of years ago.
The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish at your lodge—where you'll find plenty of family-friendly fun to be had around the pool and in the surrounding botanical gardens.
Day 11: Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour
It's an early start today but worth it as you and your family prepare for a full-day snorkeling tour of Belize's famous Blue Hole, a giant sinkhole that first formed as a limestone cavern during the last Ice Age. As the sun rises over the horizon, you'll catch a 2.5-hour boat ride southeast to Lighthouse Reef and the dive site. Measuring 1,043 feet (318 m) across and 407 feet (124 m) deep, this popular dive spot is an icon of Belize due to its near-perfect circular shape, which can be seen from space!
Explore this natural marine wonder with the kids as you discover giant underwater stalactites and a dazzling array of coral formations, and snorkel past parrotfish and turtles in sparkling blue waters with visibility of up to 200 feet (60 m). Afterward, return to your lodge and spend the evening dining on fresh seafood against the Caribbean backdrop.
Day 12: Transfer to Placencia, Snorkel at Hol Chan & Shark Ray Alley
Enjoy a leisurely wake-up this morning before transferring to the charming resort of Placencia, known for its incredible palm-lined white sands, wonderful wildlife, and proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef. Settle in at your hotel, and then it's off to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hol Chan, Belize's first-ever marine reserve. Spend some relaxed family time together as you and the kids swim and snorkel the coral reefs and mangrove lagoons. Alongside turtles and the spotted eagle ray, you'll likely see a swathe of smaller specimens, including seahorses, trumpetfish, and angelfish.
Finish your snorkeling adventure with a stop at the nearby Shark Ray Alley. Don't let the name put you and the kids off, as the nurse sharks you'll encounter here are harmless. Either spend a few hours swimming among the sharks and stingrays or spend a leisurely afternoon relaxing on deck. Toward the end of the day, head back to Placencia, where the evening is yours to dine al fresco, recounting your favorite moments from your trip.
Day 13: Beach Day in Placencia, Optional Jaguar Preserve Excursion
Today you can savor the final full day of your trip however you and the kids choose. Stick around the resort for sunbathing and sandcastle-building on the white-sand beaches, take a kayak out for a spin, or do some more swimming and snorkeling in the shallow waters of the Caribbean Sea.
If you're looking for something a bit more adventurous, take a day trip to the nearby Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve, where a naturalist guide will lead you through the sanctuary's jungle trails to spot all five of Belize's native big cats: jaguars, pumas, ocelots, jaguarundis, and margays. Afterward, float down the South Stann Creek River by inner tube, then head to a local cacao farm to learn about the ancient Maya art of chocolate-making.
Day 14: Transfer to Belize City, Depart
It's the final day of your family adventure. Make your way to Belize City's airport at the appropriate time to catch your departing flight with full hearts and memories to last a lifetime. Buen viaje!
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