- Tour the temples and pyramids of Tikal
- Explore the caverns at B'omb'il Pek
- Swim at the waterfalls in Semuc Champey
- Visit Indigenous farms and markets
|Arrive in Guatemala City, Guided Tour
|Transfer to Tikal National Park, Guided Tour
|Tikal National Park
|Transfer to Cobán, B'omb'il Pek Caves
|Day Trip to Semuc Champey
|Transfer to Huehuetenango, Visit Chichicastenango
|Day Trip to Cenotes, Transfer to Quetzaltenango
|Transfer to Antigua, Countryside Bike Tour
|Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Guided Tour
Welcome to Guatemala! This gem of a country boasts colonial cities, Indigenous villages, ancient ruins, and unspoiled nature. You'll see all of it on an itinerary that will take you to the country's highlights as well as deep into the jungles of the north and the fertile coffee country of central Guatemala. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Guatemala City.
After checking in, you'll embark on a guided tour of the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center"). Head to the Plaza de la Constitución and visit the National Palace. Guatemala's most iconic building was once the headquarters of the president, but today it's a museum. Nearby are famous religious landmarks like the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen.
Day 2: Transfer to Tikal National Park, Guided Tour
In the morning, your driver will take you to the airport for the one-hour flight to the Petén region and the town of Flores. You'll check in to your hotel in Flores, then it's a farther two-hour drive north to Tikal National Park. The ruins of this ancient Maya city sit on 222 square miles (576 sq km) and are part of the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve. Native fauna in this rainforest ecosystem include monkeys, toucans, parrots, pumas, and even jaguars.
Upon arrival, you'll meet an expert guide and explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site on a four-hour tour. Dating to around 400 BCE, Tikal was a major economic, political, and military center that reached its heyday during the Classic Maya period (250-900 CE). Throughout the tour, you'll visit the major structures, including Temples I, II, III, and IV, the last of which is the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas (270 ft / 70 m). You'll also visit the Lost World complex, the Great Plaza, Complex Q, the Window Palace, and more. At the end of the day, return to Flores and your hotel.
Day 3: Transfer to Cobán, B'omb'il Pek Caves
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Day Trip to Semuc Champey
In the morning, you'll hop in a 4WD vehicle and head east to Semuc Champey. This otherworldly natural landmark is located near the Q'eqchi' Maya town of Lanquín and is famous for its terraced turquoise pools. Just before entering the area, you'll stop to tour the Kam'ba Caves. Your guide will lead you by candlelight into underground caverns filled with rivers, waterfalls, and extraordinary rock formations. Afterward, you can take an innertube ride down the Río Cahabón before entering Semuc Champey.
Once here, you can embark on a 45-minute uphill hike to El Mirador. This stunning viewpoint overlooks the terraced pools 2,300 feet (700 m) below. Then you can spend some time swimming at the falls. The best place to snap photos near the terraces is atop a natural limestone bridge that rises 100 feet (30 m) above the water. At the end of the day, you'll transfer back to Lanquín, where you'll check in to a hotel.
Day 5: Transfer to Huehuetenango, Visit Chichicastenango
Set off for the Cuchumatanes today, a rugged mountain range that boasts the highest non-volcanic peaks in Central America. Your destination is Huehuetenango, the capital of the region, which is nestled in these mountains at an altitude of 6,234 feet (1,900 m). The area sees very few foreign visitors, so this is about as authentic Guatemala as it gets.
Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel near the main square. Then you'll get back in the car for the two-hour ride south to Chichicastenango. This village has been a hotbed of Maya culture for more than 4,000 years and is most famous for its bi-weekly market. Here vendors sell everything from flowers and fresh produce to handicrafts and handwoven textiles. It's reportedly the biggest open-air market in Central America, and you'll love browsing the many vendor stalls for handmade souvenirs.
You definitely won't want to miss the nearby Iglesia de Santo Tomás. This 16th-century Roman Catholic church is built on the site of a former Maya temple and is a striking example of Guatemalan syncretism (a mix of ancient Maya religious beliefs and traditional Catholicism). Besides sightseeing and sampling fresh fruits like Guatemalan bananas, you'll also browse a local textile factory to see the process of making the traditional outfits of the region. Following this is a traditional dance performance, and then you'll return to your hotel in Huehuetenango.
Day 6: Day Trip to Cenotes, Transfer to Quetzaltenango
In the morning, take a drive to the ancient Cenotes de Candelaría. Close to 100 feet deep (30 m), the first of these glassy cenotes (limestone sinkholes) has a diameter of over 250 feet (80 m) and is a great spot for a swim. Next is Hoyo el Cimarrón, an even bigger sinkhole that descends 650 feet (200 m). Rather than being filled with water, its floor is covered in forest. It's believed that this woodland area is fed by a stream connected to Lake Monte Bello a couple of miles away.
After enjoying the cenotes, transfer 2.5 hours to Quetzaltenango, also known by its Maya name of Xela (pronounced sheh-la). Sitting at over 7,500 feet (2,335 m), this is Guatemala's second-largest city and the center of the K'iche' Maya people. Settle into your hotel close to the central Parque Centro América, where you can later enjoy dinner at one of its many fine restaurants.
Day 7: Transfer to Antigua, Countryside Bike Tour
Hop in the car for the 3.5-hour transfer southeast from Quetzaltenango to Antigua. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by three towering volcanoes and is the most well-preserved Spanish colonial city in the country. In fact, it was the capital of Guatemala from 1543-1743, when a major earthquake forced the relocation of the capital to Guatemala City.
Upon arrival, you'll meet your group for a cycling trip to explore the nearby villages, ruins, and stunning scenery around Antigua. It's a packed excursion in which you'll visit a macadamia nut farm, coffee plantations, and a textiles and handicrafts market in the mountain town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. The best part is that throughout the ride, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Guatemala's verdant western highlands. Of course, there will be plenty of opportunities to stop and snap photos. When you return to Antigua, you'll check in at your hotel.