- Learn to make (and taste!) delicious chocolate from Guatemalan cacao
- Kayak or paddleboard along the white-sand beaches of Livingston
- Take a thrilling zipline ride through Ixpanpajul Natural Reserve
- Swim the deep and clear turquoise waters of the Crater Azul
|Arrive in Guatemala City, Chocolate Museum Workshop
|Transfer to Río Dulce via Quiriguá Maya Ruins
|Explore Río Dulce & Coastal Livingston by Boat
|Day Trip to Finca el Paraíso Hot Springs
|Transfer to Las Conchas, Waterfalls & Cuevas de Se'tzol Cave
|Transfer to Flores, Ixpanpajul Natural Reserve
|Discover the Ruins & Jungles of Tikal National Park
|Swim in the Blue Waters of Crater Azul
|Visit the Yaxhá Maya Ruins
|Fly to Guatemala City, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Chocolate Museum Workshop
Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arriving at Guatemala City airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your nearby hotel. Once you've had a chance to relax a bit, you and your family can head out to explore Guatemala's capital city. Know for its history, culture, and natural beauty, Guatemala City was founded in the 1700s, evolving into what is now considered the economic and cultural epicenter of the entire country.
Head to Parque Central, the main plaza, and visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, which serves as the main church of Guatemala City. The church boasts stunning neoclassical architecture, and inside, you'll find colonial paintings and carvings that span centuries. You can wander the plaza and grab a bite to eat, then head over to The National Palace of Culture, once the headquarters for Guatemala's president, with balconies that offer a lovely view of the square. And if the kids need more space to burn some energy, check out the nearby trails that go up to the Pacaya volcano.
This afternoon, take a workshop at the Chocolate Museum—sure to be the day's highlight for the kids! Besides crops like coffee and bananas, Guatemala also produces cacao (cocoa), which is the main ingredient in chocolate. Cacao has been cultivated here for thousands of years and was even enjoyed by the ancient Maya people. You'll participate in a "bean to bar" class that shares the history of cacao in Guatemala while taking you through the chocolate-making process. Prepare your own Maya chocolate drink, and the kids can make custom chocolates to take back to the hotel.
Day 2: Transfer to Río Dulce via Quiriguá Maya Ruins
Say goodbye to bustling Guatemala City and head toward Guatemala's Caribbean side and Río Dulce Town, which sits on the river of the same name. The drive takes just over five hours, and along the way, you'll make a stop at the Maya ruins of Quiriguá—home to the largest and best-preserved centuries-old carved stelae (rock monuments) in all of Central America. You'll have time to walk around the site, and there are guided tours available if your family wants to hear more about the history of the area.
Day 3: Explore Río Dulce & Coastal Livingston by Boat
This morning, meet your guide for a boat tour of Río Dulce and the surrounding park. The tour starts at your hotel, transporting you down the river and to the town of Livingston, a small village on the Caribbean coast. Along the way, you'll stop at the famous riverside Castillo de San Felipe and visit a protected island filled with birds, a natural hot spring, and a scenic canyon.
Upon arriving in Livingston, you'll have a chance to experience a different side of Guatemala. This waterfront village has a different vibe than the country's inland towns. Enjoy lunch among colorful facades, white-sand beaches, and a laid-back mentality. You can also rent kayaks or paddleboards for the kids or visit Rasta Mesa, a combination restaurant and eco-farm that serves as an informal culture center, offering cooking classes where you and the kids can prepare a traditional meal with a local family and enjoy some dancing and drumming afterward.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Day Trip to Finca el Paraíso Hot Springs
Explore Finca el Paraíso, a lovely river near Río Dulce Town that has a waterfall fed by natural hot springs. The river's water is cool and clear, and after a dip, you can stand under the thermally heated waterfall to warm up! The older kids might want to climb up the sides of the waterfall and jump in, or you can make your own facial with the mineral-rich mud around the falls. Have lunch on the banks, then hike up the river to a nearby cave with a swimmable cavern before returning to your hotel.
Day 5: Transfer to Las Conchas, Waterfalls & Cuevas de Se'tzol Cave
Your next destination is the town of Las Conchas, located approximately two hours from Río Dulce. Your driver will transport you to your hotel, and after check-in, you're off to the remote community of Cuevas de Se'tzol for a four-hour guided tour. Local guides will take you to explore the caves and the river system here, including an inner tube ride that takes you down the river and through a cave. There are multi-layered waterfalls and lots of swimming holes worth visiting, and any adrenaline junkies in the family might be tempted to take the plunge from the top of the area's 33-foot (10 m) waterfall.
Day 6: Transfer to Flores, Ixpanpajul Natural Reserve
Early this morning, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to Flores, a small island in Lake Peten Itza, and a gateway to national parks and Maya ruins. Your visit begins at Ixpanpajul Natural Park, a natural refuge that covers 3.5 square miles (9 sq km), filled with dense forests, winding paths, and suspension bridges that offer stunning views of the forest canopy. Your guide will take you along several bridges and to the top of Miramás Hill while the kids keep their eyes peeled for colorful birds and other wildlife. End the tour with a fast and fun family zipline ride through the rich greenery of the park.
Day 7: Discover the Ruins & Jungles of Tikal National Park
Today you'll visit the famous Tikal National Park, known for its impressive Maya pyramids and sprawling ruins. This UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts the former capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya civilization, with the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas: Temple IV, or the Great Jaguar, which stands at 270 feet (70 m) tall.Your expert guide will take you around the vast complex of temples and pyramids, and you'll have a chance to see all the major sites, including the five temples, as well as the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, and the Window Palace. The older kids will enjoy hearing about the history of this ancient region from your guide, and the younger ones will love catching glimpses of the area's wildlife, which includes curious monkeys and brightly colored tropical birds.
Day 8: Swim in the Blue Waters of Crater Azul
Located approximately 35 miles (56 km) from Flores lies Crater Azul or the Blue Crater. Part of the river Arroyo El Pucté, a small tributary of the Río La Pasión, the crater is actually a section of the river that runs very deep, trapping any sediment at the bottom and causing the water to be extremely clear and blue.
Take a private transfer to Sayaxché, where a boat will be waiting to take you to the crater. During a two-hour journey down the river, you'll be surrounded by lush vegetation, and you're likely to see plenty of birds and maybe even a few crocodiles (don't worry, they don't swim at the crater). Once you arrive, you'll be amazed at the turquoise waters, and the kids will probably want to jump right in.
Spend the afternoon swimming in this incredible natural wonder, and take advantage of the many photo ops the clear, blue water offers. Families with younger children should be aware that the water here really is quite deep, so smaller kids or anyone who isn't a strong swimmer should wear a floatation device. There are also no facilities at the crater, so plan accordingly. Later, you'll head back to Flores just in time for sunset and dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 9: Visit the Yaxhá Maya Ruins
There are more ancient wonders in store today as you tour Yaxhá National Park, an archaeological site that includes the ruins of an ancient Maya city and ceremonial center—once the third-largest city in the region, reaching its height of power during the Classic Period (200-900 CE).
There are over 500 structures here, and your guide will lead you to various pyramids, altars, plazas, ball courts, and a network of sacbeob (ancient roads). During the tour, you'll have a chance to hike up Temple 216, the site's tallest temple at 98 feet (30 m). Keep in mind that a moderate level of fitness is required to complete the tour, and children must be five years or older to attend.
Day 10: Fly to Guatemala City, Depart
Your Guatemala adventure ends today as your driver transfers you from your hotel in Flores to the airport for your flight to Guatemala City and your onward connection. Safe travels!
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