See a different side of Guatemala on this bespoke 11-day itinerary. Starting and ending in the capital of Guatemala City, you'll be driven to the Caribbean-influenced north of the country to discover the waterways and jungles of the Río Dulce and Las Conchas regions. Take tours of ancient Maya sites, swim in crater lakes and warm waterfalls, embark on boat tours into wildlife-rich forests, and explore the hidden world of Guatemala's sacred caves.


  • Take a boat tour of the Río Dulce to the mouth of the Caribbean coast
  • Relax in nature at Finca Paraíso hot spring-fed waterfall 
  • Explore the island town of Flores and the surrounding Lake Petén Itzá
  • See ancient Maya monuments at Yaxhá, Quirigua, and Tikal 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Chocolate Museum Experience Guatemala City
Day 2 Transfer to Río Dulce via Quiriguá Maya Ruins Río Dulce
Day 3 Boat Tour of the Río Dulce Río Dulce
Day 4 Visit Finca Paraíso Hot Springs Río Dulce
Day 5 Transfer to Las Conchas, Waterfalls & Caves Expedition Las Conchas
Day 6 Free Day at Las Conchas Waterfalls Las Conchas
Day 7 Transfer to Flores, Boat Trip & Actún Kan Caves Flores
Day 8 Explore Tikal National Park Flores
Day 9 Day Trip to Crater Azul Flores
Day 10 Tour the Yaxhá Maya Ruins Flores
Day 11 Fly to Guatemala City & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Chocolate Museum Experience

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Guatemala in Guatemala City
The Metropolitan Cathedral, Guatemala City

Welcome to Guatemala City! Transfer to your hotel and then head out to explore the capital of Guatemala and Central America's biggest metropolis. Set in the south-central mountainous region of Valle de La Ermita ("Hermitage Valley"), it's known for its history-rich central plaza, around which you'll find many museums, an archaeological site, and a market of traditional food, textiles, and crafts.

You might want to visit the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology, where you'll find the most important collection of archaeological artifacts of the Maya culture. Drop by the Ixchel Museum to see incredible Indigenous Guatemalan clothing and textiles displays, or learn about Maya engineering at the Miraflores Museum.

End your first day with a sweet activity: a bean-to-bar chocolate workshop. In a small group, you'll learn about the chocolate-making process, from plucking the beans from the tree to grinding them into a paste and molding the bars. You'll get to make custom chocolates and sample a Maya cacao drink laden with fragrant spices. After, return to your hotel to rest ahead of tomorrow's adventure.

Day 2: Transfer to Río Dulce via Quiriguá Maya Ruins

Quirigua, Izabal.
An intricately-carved Maya monument in Quiriguá

Leave the bustle of the city today to explore a wilder part of Guatemala. A driver will take you toward the Caribbean side of the country, a journey of around 124 miles (200 km). Your destination is the Río Dulce ("Sweet River"), the waterway that links Lake Izabal with the Caribbean Sea through 27 miles (43 km) of wildlife-rich jungle. 

The journey will be broken up with a visit to the Maya ruins of Quiriguá, the site of the largest and best-preserved carved stelae (rock monuments) in Central America. In its heyday (around 800 CE), Quiriguá thrived as a royal Maya residence and administrative center, thanks to its prime location at the junction of several important trade routes. The site is most famous for its 17 ornate sandstone monuments, hand-carved without metal tools. 

Day 3: Boat Tour of the Río Dulce

Boat floating on Livingston Beach
The palm-fringed Livingston Beach
After a leisurely breakfast overlooking the water, meet your guide for a Río Dulce boat tour. As you travel along the jade waters, keep your eyes open for wildlife, such as manatees, crocodiles, howler monkeys, and more than 100 species of birds. The boat will pass dense rainforest, quaint waterside villages, and blooming flowers, including orchids and water lilies.
The ride will deliver you to Livingston, a small, laid-back fishing town that's only accessible by boat. It feels more like the Caribbean than Central America, especially as the drink of choice is real coconut with rum—but in fact, the Afro-Guatemalan community here has its own culture, Garifuna, with a unique language and customs. On this tour, you'll also stop at the 17th-century Castle of San Felipe, a Spanish colonial fort at the entrance to Lake Izabal, and visit a protected island of birdlife and natural hot springs. 

Day 4: Visit Finca Paraíso Hot Springs

Finca Paraiso Hot Springs Waterfall
Soak under the naturally-heated waters of the Finca Paraíso waterfall
Enjoy a lazy morning, then head off on a guided afternoon tour to Finca Paraíso, a beautiful river and waterfall in the Guatemalan jungle fed by natural hot springs. Take a dip in the cooler water and take in the natural beauty surrounding you before perching under the thermally-heated waterfall to warm up. Having the hot water beat down on you is like getting a massage, or being in Mother Nature's jacuzzi. The mud here is said to be good for your skin, too. 
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After making the most of nature's spa, you can hike to a nearby river cave adorned with stalactites, rock formations, and another waterfall. There's a spot where you can swim to the back of the cave and pass through a tunnel to end up on the other side. At the end of the adventure, you'll return to your hotel for dinner.

Day 5: Transfer to Las Conchas, Waterfalls & Caves Expedition

Float to the waterfalls of Las Conchas by inner tube

A driver will pick you up at your accommodation this morning for the two-hour transfer to Las Conchas, a small town known for its natural setting. From here, you'll embark on a half-day caving and waterfall expedition. It begins in a remote community called Cuevas de Se'tzol, from where a local guide will lead you to the caves and a pristine river system. A short tube ride through a cave's waterway will deliver you to the Las Conchas waterfalls, a multi-layered set of falls and swimming holes.

Later on, get settled into your base for the next couple of nights at the Oasis Chiyú ecolodge, located at the edge of the Río Chiyú. Feel free to explore more of the park, or have a resident take you on a guided walk. The owners are great hosts and ambassadors of the local area. They specialize in homemade, healthy food—but they're also mean cocktail-makers, so relax with a Cuba libre or margarita (fresh lime, of course), in the peaceful forest setting.

Day 6: Free Day at Las Conchas Waterfalls

Las Conchas waterfalls
Head back to the mightly Las Conchas waterfalls today
Today is at your leisure—spend some time relaxing at the lodge, or take part in activities such as yoga and fishing with harpoons, spears, nets, or lines. Swing in the hammocks and grab a drink after swimming in one of the two rivers beside the lodge.
As the lodge is less than a mile from Las Conchas waterfalls, you can also walk over to enjoy the beautiful site and explore it at your own pace (there are changing rooms down there to get into your swim stuff). Tropical forests surround the limestone landscape, so you might spot colorful critters such as red-eyed tree frogs and butterflies as you walk and swim. For the adventurous, there's also the chance to leap off a 33-foot (10 m) waterfall.

Day 7: Transfer to Flores, Boat Trip & Actún Kan Caves

Flores Island on Lake Petén Itzá
Flores Island on Lake Petén Itzá

Early this morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel and transfer you to Flores. This densely packed island city is a gateway to national parks and Maya ruins and will serve as your base for the remainder of the trip. On arrival, you'll head off on a 2.5-hour boat ride around Flores on Petén Itzá, the second-largest lake in Guatemala. A guide will give you an overview of the history of this unique island, including its rich Maya history.

Today you'll also explore the municipal park of Actún Kan Caves, near the lakeshore town of Santa Elena de la Cruz. The forest-covered hills here conceal an extensive network of caves. Like all caves in Maya culture, this underground system was used for ceremonies and had religious and cultural importance. Learn about the rituals once performed here, and admire the impressive stalactites and stalagmites. You might even spot the bats that seek refuge in the cool chambers.

Day 8: Explore Tikal National Park

The Great Jaguar Temple in Tikal
The Great Jaguar Temple in Tikal

Get your fill of fascinating ancient Maya history on a guided day trip to Tikal National Park. Known worldwide for its impressive Maya pyramids and sprawling ruins, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was the capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Maya civilization. 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. Keep an eye out for wildlife during the tour, such as spider monkeys, howler monkeys, armadillos, and ocelots, as the site is shrouded by jungle. You'll also have time to explore on your own. 

Day 9: Day Trip to Crater Azul

Blue Crater near Flores, Guatemala
Dive into the clear waters of Crater Azul

Today, you'll explore a natural paradise known as the Crater Azul ("Blue Crater"), a spring-fed tributary on the Río Pasion. The trip starts with a drive to the small city of Sayaxché, where the boat will be waiting. Sail for two hours along the river, taking in views of the lush countryside on the banks, looking out for creatures such as howler monkeys and iguanas.

When you arrive at the Blue Crater, take a short walk to the circular pool, which is fairly shallow all the way across—up to 26 feet (8 m) deep. Sediment lies trapped at the bottom of the pool, meaning the water is perfectly clear, and you can see the small fish and underwater "forest" below the surface. In its unspoiled setting, the crater is a memorable place for a swim. Once the sun starts to set, head back to Flores for a relaxed evening.

Day 10: Tour the Yaxhá Maya Ruins

Yaxhá National Park
Discover more Maya history at Yaxhá National Park

Meet your guide in your hotel lobby, and head out on a half-day private tour of the Yaxhá National Park archaeological site. This ancient Maya city and ceremonial center 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, ball courts, and a network of sacbeob (ancient roads). A major highlight is a hike up Temple 216, the site's tallest temple at 98 feet (30 m). You'll also learn about the wildlife-rich environment of the Maya Biosphere, the Americas' second largest jungle. After the tour, grab lunch before returning to your hotel to relax for the rest of the day.

Day 11: Fly to Guatemala City & Depart

Spend a final morning exploring Flores and its historic center

Today your Guatemala adventure comes to an end. After a free morning, you'll catch the 45-minute domestic flight from Flores to Guatemala City Airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Adios!

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Map of Caribbean Guatemala & Maya Ruins - 11 Days
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