Experience the fascinating culture and natural beauty of Guatemala on a 13-day escape that covers the highlights of not only this Central American gem but of neighboring Belize, too. Starting in Guatemala, you'll tour ancient Mayan ruins, go hiking, kayaking, and biking, and participate in a spiritual ceremony. Then hop across the border to Belize for Caribbean adventures like cruising on a catamaran and snorkeling in the famous Blue Hole.


  • Spend a day hiking and kayaking in Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes
  • Tour ancient Maya ruins at two locations, and participate in a spiritual ceremony
  • Beat the crowds at Belize's famous Blue Hole and snorkel amongst colorful fish
  • Cruise to Caribbean islands on a catamaran for more snorkeling and a picnic

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua, Walking Tour & Cooking Class Antigua
Day 2 Bike Ride & Coffee Farm Tour, Chocolate Workshop Antigua
Day 3 Nature Hike & Lunch at Earth Lodge, Transfer to Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 4 Lake Atitlán Boat Tour, Spiritual Maya Ceremony Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Kayaking & Hiking Adventure Lake Atitlán
Day 6 Fly to Flores, Explore Yaxhá National Park Flores
Day 7 Explore Tikal National Park, Zipline Tour Flores
Day 8 Sunrise at Tikal National Park, Actun Kan Cave Tour Flores
Day 9 Transfer to Belize City, Butterfly Farm Visit Belize City
Day 10 Transfer to Ambergris Caye, Glass Bottom Boat Tour San Pedro 
Day 11 Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour San Pedro 
Day 12 Catamaran Cruise & Beach Picnic San Pedro 
Day 13 Transfer to Belize City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua, Walking Tour & Cooking Class

Start your adventure with a walking tour of this UNESCO-listed colonial city
Welcome to Guatemala! This Central American nation has thousands of years of history spanning the ages from ancient Maya times through Spanish colonialism up to the present day. This has resulted in a rich culture with distinct traditions, spirituality, and, of course, cuisine. Meanwhile, Guatemala's natural beauty includes volcanoes, crater lakes, rivers, and rainforests. You'll experience all of this and more starting with your arrival in Guatemala City. A driver will pick you up at the airport for the one-hour ride west to Antigua, where you'll check in to your hotel.
After settling in, you'll meet a local historian for a walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is one of the most well-preserved Spanish-colonial cities in the Americas. You'll visit 18th-century landmarks like a convent-turned-hotel called Casa Santo Domingo, the Palace of the Captain's General, and La Merced Church, whose canary-yellow Baroque facade is an icon of the city. As you stroll the Paseo de Los Museos ("Museum Path"), delve into the roots of Maya archaeology and culture.
Next, you'll take a cooking class where you'll learn to prepare traditional Guatemalan cuisine, which combines colonial Spanish and Indigenous Maya influences. The three-hour workshop is taught by local chefs who belong to the Sacatepéquez community, and you'll prepare main dishes, handmade tortillas, and a dessert. When the cooking is done, you'll sit down with your fellow chefs and enjoy your creations.

Day 2: Bike Ride & Coffee Farm Tour, Chocolate Workshop

Pick up your bike in Antigua and follow your guide to a coffee farm

This morning your guide will pick you up for today's combined mountain bike excursion and coffee tour. After collecting your bikes in Antigua, you'll ride to the De la Gente coffee cooperative where you'll tour a large-scale production farm. The site is part of a community on the flank of the Agua volcano where farmers work together to grow, pick, and process coffee. De la Gente works with these farmers to help brand their coffee and export it to global markets.

Upon arrival, your guide will lead you on a short hike around the fields, where you'll meet some of the farmers. Then, visit the roasting house to see how they toast the beans one small batch at a time. A real treat is when you sit down to lunch with one of the local families, sample their coffee, and learn a bit about life on a working coffee farm. After the meal, you'll transfer back to Antigua.

Later, you'll participate in a "bean to bar" chocolate workshop. Guatemala is a major producer of cacao (cocoa), which is the main ingredient in chocolate. It has been cultivated here for thousands of years and was even enjoyed by the ancient Maya people. Besides learning about the production process, you'll also prepare your own delicious Maya chocolate drink, plus make custom chocolates to take home with you. 

Day 3: Nature Hike & Lunch at Earth Lodge, Transfer to Lake Atitlán

Savor your first sunset at Lake Atitlán, Guatemala's most famous lake

Continue the adventure today as you leave Antigua's cobblestone streets and hit the nearby nature trails. Your guide will pick you up at 9 am and you'll drive 20 minutes out of the city, winding your way up out of the Panchoy Valley toward El Hato, a mountainside village. Take a nature walk and enjoy the views looking over the valley and the surrounding three volcanoes. When it's time for lunch, you'll stop at Earth Lodge, a quaint mountain hotel and working avocado orchard to enjoy freshly prepared food. Relax in the hotel's hammocks before returning to Antigua.

From here, you'll hop in a car for the three-hour drive to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala's most famous lake. This body of water is part of a volcanic crater in the southwestern highlands and is surrounded by volcanoes, creating an incredible skyline. Upon arrival, check in to your waterfront hotel and enjoy the views.

Day 4: Lake Atitlán Boat Tour, Spiritual Maya Ceremony

Participate in a hands-on Maya fire ceremony
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After breakfast overlooking the water, you'll climb aboard a boat for a tour around Atitlán. In the company of a local guide, you'll stop at villages that are removed from the tourist trail and experience their authentic culture. For example, you'll visit a local women's weaving co-op and see how they turn cotton into beautiful textiles by hand. You'll also visit a shrine to Maximón, an infamous Maya saint known for his depraved behavior.
Late in the day, you'll participate in a 2.5-hour traditional Maya fire ceremony. A local guide will explain the significance of this experience as well as prepare you for the event, which is led by a local spiritual guide known as El Ajq'ij. You'll participate with candles that serve as a way to align your energy with the cosmos, just as the Maya have been doing for over 5,000 years. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 5: Kayaking & Hiking Adventure

Kayaking on Lake Atitlán
Start your morning by kayaking around Lake Atitlán

Today you'll meet your guide in the morning for a five-hour Lake Atitlán adventure. You'll start in a kayak, paddling westward along the north shore of the lake for roughly two hours. Check out villages perched on lakeside cliffs, hop in the water for a swim, or even do some cliff jumping.

Ultimately you'll end up at a spot between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna where you'll leave your kayak behind and lace up your hiking boots. From here, follow the lake trail between the villages, taking in views of the surrounding volcanoes. Continue hiking along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours; eventually, the route will take you to the town of Jaibalito, and from there you'll transfer back to your hotel.

Day 6: Fly to Flores, Explore Yaxhá National Park

Yaxhá National Park
See the pyramids at Yaxhá National Park on a half-day tour
In the morning a driver will transfer you to the airport in Guatemala City, where you'll catch a one-hour flight to Flores. This will be your base for exploring ancient Mayan ruins over the next couple of days. Upon arrival in Flores, a driver will pick you up for the 1.5-hour ride east to Yaxhá National Park. Here, you'll meet a local guide for a half-day tour.
This archaeological site at Yaxhá comprises the ruins of an ancient Maya city and ceremonial center that reached its height of power during the Classic Period (200-900 CE) when it was the third-largest city in the region. There are over 500 structures here, and your guide will lead you to various pyramids, altars, plazas, and a network of sacbeob (ancient roads). One major highlight is a hike up Temple 216, which is the site's tallest temple at 98 feet (30 m). Afterward, you'll return to your hotel in Flores.

Day 7: Explore Tikal National Park, Zipline Tour

Tikal's Temple of the Great Jaguar
Get up close to Tikal's Temple I (Temple of the Great Jaguar) on today's tour
After breakfast, you'll make the one-hour drive north into Tikal National Park, one of the most impressive archeological sites in Central America. This UNESCO World Heritage Site once served as the capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Classic Maya period (250-900 CE). Among many highlights, Tikal is home to the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas: Temple IV, which stands 270 feet (70 m) tall. You'll see all the major sites of interest, including Temples I, II, III, and V, as well as the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, and the Window Palace

Now that you've seen Tikal from the ground, you'll enjoy it from a different perspective as you soar over the treetops on a fun zipline tour. Strap into a harness and feel the adrenaline rush as you zip over the jungle canopy on a 656-foot (200 m) cable perched 131 feet (40 m) above ground. This canopy tour consists of 10 platforms and nine different ziplines, each offering safe and exciting jungle fun. From here, you'll return to your hotel in Flores.

Day 8: Sunrise at Tikal National Park, Actun Kan Cave Tour

Watch the sunrise over the pyramids in Tikal National Park

Rise and shine! Today you'll wake at 4 am for the drive back into Tikal National Park. You'll arrive while it's still dark, and once there you'll head right to Temple IV, which is the tallest pyramid at the site. Here, you'll climb 200 steps up a wooden staircase and reach the top in time to see the rising sun across the canopy and temples. You'll also hear the sounds of the jungle coming to life including toucans and howler monkeys.

After enjoying the sunrise, you'll return to Flores and head just outside the city to Actun Kan Municipal Regional Park. This area is comprised of forest-covered hills that are home to an extensive network of caverns. This underground cave system was used by the ancient for various ceremonies, and it still has religious and cultural importance to the people of this region. Enter the caves and hike around its hanging stalactites and rising stalagmites as you learn about the ancient rituals once performed here. 

Day 9: Transfer to Belize City, Butterfly Farm Visit

Blue Butterfly
The majestic blue morpho is one of the world's largest species of butterflies

Your driver will pick you up this morning for the ride east to the border with Belize. After crossing the border, you'll continue a couple of hours to the coast and Belize City.

There will be a stop along the way at the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm. Located in the green Maya Mountains, this nature farm is the perfect place to meet the majestic blue morpho butterflies, known in the country as Belizean Blue. This rare species is one of the world's largest butterflies, with wings that span up to 8 inches (20 cm). During a 1.5-hour tour of the farm, you'll learn all about these exotic critters and see them in the wild. Afterward, you'll continue to Belize City, where you'll check into your hotel.

Day 10: Transfer to Ambergris Caye, Glass Bottom Boat Tour

Observe the underwater world from a glass-bottom boat
After breakfast, you'll transfer by water taxi 1.5 hours north from Belize City to Ambergris Caye. This idyllic coral isle has been inhabited over the centuries by Indigenous Maya people, Mexicans fleeing the Caste War of Yucatán, and European pirates. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel in San Pedro Town, the only town on the island.

Later, you'll board a glass-bottom boat today for a 2.5-hour cruise just off the southern coast of Ambergris to Hol Chan, Belize's first-ever marine reserve. This UNESCO World Heritage Site protects 7 square miles (18 sq km) of coral reefs and mangrove lagoons that are home to an incredibly biodiverse marine ecosystem. Watch the activity of this diverse underwater universe while looking for angelfish, trumpetfish, sea turtles, moray eels, and spotted eagle rays.
Once at Hol Chan, you'll anchor for 20 minutes. During that time you can choose to stay on board or hop in the water for a snorkel and a swim. Afterward, the boat will continue to the famous Shark Ray Alley. This 30-foot (9 m) deep channel is filled with stingrays and nurse sharks, which you can see gliding beneath the boat as well. Just like at Hol Chan, you'll have the option to go swimming with these animals. No need to worry, as nurse sharks are perfectly harmless (but no touching). 

Day 11: Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour

Blue Hole
The Blue Hole's circular shape can be seen from outer space

Today you'll depart early for a full-day snorkeling tour at the Blue Hole, a giant marine sinkhole that first formed as a limestone cavern during the last Ice Age. This popular dive spot, which can be seen from space, is an icon of Belize due to its almost perfectly circular shape measuring 1,043 feet (318 m) across and 407 feet (124 m) deep. 

Your journey begins around 5:30 am with a 2.5-hour boat ride southeast to Lighthouse Reef and the dive site. The early start is well worth it, as you'll discover once you plunge into the Blue Hole and swim beneath its shimmering surface. As you break through the thermocline layer into the deeper, motionless waters below, you'll be treated to views of up to 200 (60 m) feet. In this environment, you'll see everything from giant underwater stalactites to reef sharks, parrotfish, and turtles cruising past you.

Day 12: Catamaran Cruise & Beach Picnic

Take a catamaran cruise to the outer reef and have lunch on the deck
This morning you'll board a 38-foot (11.5 m) catamaran for a pleasure cruise around the reef, atolls, and coral islands of Belize. Relax on deck with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair as you cruise along the same trade routes favored by English merchants and European pirates in the 1600s.
During a break from the sailing adventure, your skipper will anchor near the coral-rich Mexico Rocks, a popular snorkeling destination. Here, you'll enjoy a barbecue on deck with fresh lobster and conch, depending on the season. After lunch, you can take a nap, do some sunbathing, or dive off the boat into crystalline waters for a swim. After a while, you'll cruise back to the pier in Ambergris Caye.

Day 13: Transfer to Belize City, Depart

If time allows, take one more beach walk before departure

It's time to say goodbye to Belize! In the morning you'll head over to the dock in San Pedro to catch the water taxi back to Belize City. From there, you'll transfer to the airport and catch your flight home. Until next time!

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Map of Best of Guatemala & Belize - 13 Days
Map of Best of Guatemala & Belize - 13 Days