Venture deep into the jungles of central and northern Guatemala, where mysterious caves, romantic waterfalls, and ancient ruins await. After a tour of Guatemala City, you'll fly north to Tikal, the ruins of an ancient Maya city and one of the most incredible archeological sites in the world. Finish the trip with visits to remote forests home to terraced waterfalls and caverns, then browse a traditional Indigenous market.


  • 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

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Guided Tour Guatemala City
Day 2 Transfer to Tikal National Park, Guided Tour Tikal National Park
Day 3 Transfer to Cobán, B'omb'il Pek Caves Cobán
Day 4 Day Trip to Semuc Champey Lanquín
Day 5 Transfer to Huehuetenango, Visit Chichicastenango Huehuetenango
Day 6 Day Trip to Cenotes, Transfer to Quetzaltenango Quetzaltenango
Day 7 Transfer to Antigua, Countryside Bike Tour Antigua
Day 8 Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Guided Tour

Guatemala City
The National Palace, Guatemala City

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

Tikal's Temple of the Great Jaguar
Tikal's Temple of the Great Jaguar

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

Float in the dark through a labyrinth of caves in Candelaria
Explore caves in Alta Verapaz
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Wake up early for the 5.5-hour drive south from Flores to Cobán, located deep in the heart of Guatemala's coffee country. It's a long drive, but you'll stop near the village of Chisec, in the department of Alta Verapaz. Here, you'll visit the B'omb'il Pek Caves. Reaching these impressive caverns requires a 40-minute hike along a nature path to the entrance. Then you'll take a 30-minute tour of the interior of the caves. A fun, optional activity you can enjoy here is abseiling (rappelling). Afterward, you'll continue on to Cobán and check in to your hotel.

Day 4: Day Trip to Semuc Champey

The terraced falls at 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

Browse the market at 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

Hoyo el Cimarrón

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

Take a bike ride around historic Antigua

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.

Day 8: Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart

Sunset over the volcanoes of Guatemala
Today you must bid farewell to Guatemala. Surely the memories you've made will last long after you've gone. At the appropriate time, you'll meet your driver for the one-hour ride back to Guatemala City and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Until next time!

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Map of Central & Northeast Guatemala - 8 Days
Map of Central & Northeast Guatemala - 8 Days