Belize & Guatemala Cultural Highlights: Ancient Maya Ruins & Bustling Village Markets – 7 Days
- Soak up the sun on tropical Caye Caulker island
- Snorkel or dive the Belize Barrier Reef
- Explore UNESCO-listed Tikal National Park
- Take a horseback tour of the Xunantunich ruins
- Browse one of Central America's largest markets in Chichicastenango
|Day 1||Arrive at Caye Caulker||Caye Caulker|
|Day 2||Blue Hole Diving & Cahal Pech Tour||Caye Caulker|
|Day 3||Belize Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour||Caye Caulker|
|Day 4||Transfer to Belize City & Xunantunich Ruins Horseriding Tour||Tikal National Park|
|Day 5||Explore Tikal National Park, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 6||Visit Chichicastenango Market & Lake Atitlán Village Tour||Antigua|
|Day 7||Depart Guatemala|
Day 1: Arrive at Caye Caulker
Welcome to Belize! Your driver will be waiting at the airport to transfer you by car and boat to your hotel on the island of Caye Caulker. Settle in and spend the rest of the day exploring; you can rent a golf cart to traverse the tiny, car-free Caribbean island, which is just 4 miles (6 km) long.
Divided by a narrow channel, the laid-back island draws snorkelers and divers from all over the world for its pristine marine reserve, which is part of the Belize Barrier Reef. Take some time to relax at your hotel, go to the beach, or browse the souvenir shops in Caye Caulker Village.
Day 2: Blue Hole Diving & Cahal Pech Tour
Spend today relaxing on Caye Caulker. Sip a cocktail while reclining in a hammock, wander along soft powdery sands, or take a dip in the Caribbean Sea. You can rent a bike to pedal around the island, heading north to walk through mangrove forests filled with exotic birds. Feast on fresh seafood at a local restaurant or take a snorkeling or kayaking trip in the marine reserve.
If you're a keen diver, don't miss a trip to Blue Hole, a giant marine sinkhole located off the Belize coast in the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. The journey takes two-and-a-half hours by boat. When you arrive, dive down into the former limestone cave system, which folded and collapsed when sea levels rose during the last ice age. You'll swim through striking coral gardens and deep caves full of stalactites.
For a land-based adventure, tour Cahal Pech ("Place of Ticks") in Maya, a name given when the area was used as pasture land. Cahal Pech was settled around 1,000 BCE and served as the royal acropolis palace of an elite Maya family who lived here during the Classic period. Explore the site, which has seven plazas and over 30 structures, including temples, residential buildings, ball courts, and an altar. One of the temples boasts the best view of the surrounding Belize River Valley.
Day 3: Belize Barrier Reef Snorkeling Tour
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Transfer to Belize City & Xunantunich Ruins Horseriding Tour
Day 5: Explore Tikal National Park & Fly to Antigua
Today you'll visit the famous Tikal National Park, known worldwide for its impressive Maya pyramids and sprawling ruins. The UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts the former capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. It features the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas: Temple IV (The Great Jaguar), which stands 270 feet (70 m) tall.
Spend the day with an expert guide exploring this vast complex of temples and pyramids. See all the major sites of interest, including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, The Great Plaza, and The Window Palace. Afterward, you'll head to the airport for a flight to Guatemala City, where your driver will be waiting to take you west to Antigua Guatemala.
Day 6: Visit Chichicastenango Market & Lake Atitlán Village Tour
Head to the traditional Maya town of Chichicastenango this morning to visit its renowned market. On the way, you'll traverse the Pan-American Highway, which stretches from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. As you get closer to Atitlán, you'll enjoy sweeping views over this expansive shimmering lake.
Chichicastenango is one of the largest and most famous markets in all of Central America, located in the western highlands of Guatemala. The market is held every Thursday and Sunday and draws locals from surrounding villages who come to sell handicrafts, textiles, regional clothing, and produce. Take a guided walk through this vibrant, historic market.
Continue exploring the area with a visit to Lake Atitlán's Maya villages. Sail across the lake, stopping at various villages where you'll meet the residents and learn about daily lake life. Highlights include touring a women's weaving co-op and a shrine to the rum-drinking, cigar-smoking Maya saint "Maximon," who represents light and dark in Maya culture.
Day 7: Depart Guatemala
Today your Central America adventure comes to an end. Your driver will pick you up from your hotel, taking you to Guatemala City International Airport for your onward flight. Safe travels!
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