- Hike up the volcanic slopes of Pacaya
- Hope over to Honduras to discover Copán's Maya ruins
- Kayak on sparkling Lake Atitlán
- Explore the eerie caves of Actún Kan
- Go tubing in Semuc Champey National Park
|Arrive in Guatemala City, Tour & Chocolate Museum
|Transfer to Antigua, City Walking Tour
|Explore the Copán Ruins
|Hike Pacaya Volcano
|Visit Chichicastenango Market, Transfer to Lake Atitlán
|Lake Atitlán Kayaking & Hiking
|Transfer to Lanquín
|Explore Semuc Champey's Waterfalls & Caves
|Transfer to Flores, Tikal National Park Canopy Tour
|Explore Tikal National Park
|Actún Kan Caves Tour & Crater Azul
|Fly to Guatemala City, Spiritual Maya Ceremony
|Transfer to Guatemala City Airport, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Tour & Chocolate Museum
Welcome to Guatemala City! Take a transfer to your hotel and then head out to explore Central America's largest metropolis. Highlights include an archeological site and market where you'll learn about Guatemala's diverse history and taste its Maya roots. The Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology, the Ixchel Museum, and the Archaeology Museum also make interesting stops.
End the day with a bean-to-bar chocolate workshop. Learn about the chocolate-making process, from plucking the beans from the tree to grinding them into a paste and molding the individual bars. You'll get to make custom chocolates and sample a Maya cacao drink laden with fragrant spices. Return to your hotel to rest ahead of tomorrow's adventure.
Day 2: Transfer to Antigua, City Walking Tour
Today your driver will take you an hour west to Antigua, a city in the central highlands. Spend the afternoon on a walking tour guided by a local historian. You'll visit the city's top landmarks, such as the City Hall Palace, the Palace of the Captain's General, and the cathedral. Along the way, you'll learn about life before the Spanish conquest and the city's rich history on the Paseo de los Museos ("Museum Path"). Here, you can delve into the roots of Maya archaeology and culture.
Day 3: Explore the Copán Ruins
Today you'll enjoy a trip to the Copán Ruins located over the border in Honduras. Copán is one of the most important Maya sites, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its collection of 4,500 structures. These include intricate temples, hieroglyphs, and sculptures of the city's top rulers, known as stelae.
Explore the ruins of this once-powerful Maya capital, built between 400 and 800 CE. Learn about life in this ancient civilization as you tour highlights such as the acropolis and its underground tunnels, the hieroglyphic stairway, and the Great Plaza, where you'll find spectacular stelae. Climb to the top of Temple 16, which soars 100 feet above the ruins, for views of Copán.
Day 4: Hike Pacaya Volcano
This morning you'll embark upon a trek to the 8,370 feet (2,551 m) Pacaya volcano. You'll meet your guide in Antigua for a 90-minute private transfer to the park office and trailhead. Here you'll begin your group hike along the mountain's winding trails with views of the Guatemalan countryside. When you reach the caldera's base, follow your guide across rugged dried lava fields as you climb to the top of the mountain.
Stop for a freshly-prepared picnic while you admire three nearby volcanoes: Fuego, Agua, and Acatenango. You'll have plenty of opportunities to explore geothermal hotspots on the cooled lava formations—and even use them to roast marshmallows! Later, hike back down across the dried lava fields through peaceful forests and farmland. Return to your hotel for a well-earned restful evening.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Visit Chichicastenango Market, Transfer to Lake Atitlán
Head to the traditional Maya town of Chichicastenango this morning to visit its renowned market. On the way, you'll traverse the Pan-American Highway, which stretches from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. As you get closer to Atitlán, you'll enjoy sweeping views over this expansive lake.
Chichicastenango is one of the largest and most famous markets in all of Central America, located in the western highlands of Guatemala. The market is held every Thursday and Sunday and draws locals from surrounding villages who come to sell handicrafts, textiles, regional clothing, and produce. Take a guided walk through this vibrant, historic market and then continue to Panajachel, the main town on Lake Atitlán.
Day 6: Lake Atitlán Kayaking & Hiking
Spend today on a guided tour of Lake Atitlán, one of Guatemala's most popular attractions. The lake sits in a volcanic crater in the southwestern highlands and is surrounded by jagged peaks. Board a kayak to paddle west along the north shore of the lake for two hours, passing villages perched on lakeside cliffs. As you sail, you'll have a chance to jump into the water for a swim or even try cliff jumping.
Eventually, you'll dock between the villages of Tzununá and San Marcos La Laguna, where you'll leave your kayak behind and lace up your hiking boots. Follow the lake trail between the villages, taking in views of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes. Hike along the shoreline and through small villages; the route will take you to the town of Jaibalito, where you'll take a transfer back to your hotel.
Day 7: Transfer to Lanquín
Say goodbye to Lake Atitlán and take a long, nine-hour transfer to Lanquín in the northeast of Guatemala today. Begin by taking the public boat at San Juan's main dock to Panajachel, where you'll board a shuttle to Lanquín. This small mountain town is known for its surrounding jungles, caves, and turquoise waters.
Day 8: Explore Semuc Champey's Waterfalls & Caves
Today, hop in a 4WD vehicle for the journey to Semuc Champey National Park. This otherworldly landmark is famous for its terraced topaz pools surrounded by jungle-covered cliffs. 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.
Next, enjoy tubing down the Río Cahabón, followed by a 45-minute uphill hike to El Mirador. This stunning viewpoint overlooks the terraced pools 2,300 feet (700 m) below. You'll have some free time afterward to relax and swim 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 about 4 pm, you'll return to your hotel.
Day 9: Transfer to Flores, Tikal National Park Canopy Tour
This morning, your shuttle driver will pick you up for the six-hour drive north to Flores. Spend the day exploring this tiny town, which lies on an island in Lake Peten Itza. Wander the streets filled with cute plazas and pastel-hued colonial buildings, and enjoy a meal in a local café. Next, head down to the water's edge for views of the shimmering, emerald lake.
Later, get your first taste of nearby Tikal National Park with an optional, exhilarating canopy 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 comprises 10 platforms and nine ziplines, each offering safe and exciting jungle fun.
Day 10: Explore Tikal National Park
Today you'll visit the famous Tikal National Park. The park is known worldwide for its impressive Maya pyramids and sprawling ruins. The UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts the former capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient 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. Take the opportunity to see all the major sites of interest, including Temples I, II, II, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, The Great Plaza, and The Window Palace. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the way and savor the sights and sounds of the jungle. Afterward, you'll head back to your hotel for a free evening.
Day 11: Actún Kan Caves Tour & Crater Azul
This morning you'll head to the regional municipal park of Actún Kan Caves, located in Santa Elena de la Cruz on Lake Petén Itzá. The park features several forested hills that conceal an extensive network of eerie caverns. This underground system was traditionally used for Maya ceremonies and still has religious and cultural importance to the area's people.
Take a guided walk into the cave, witnessing the rare vegetation and animals that have made it their home. Learn about the rituals once performed here and marvel at the stalactites and stalagmites that decorate cathedral-like caverns. If you're lucky, you might even see the bats that seek refuge in the cool chambers of the cave.
Next, explore the Crater Azul ("Blue Crater"), a spring-fed tributary on the Río Pasión. The trip starts with a drive to Sayaxché, where the boat will be waiting. Sail for two hours along the river, taking in views of the lush countryside on the banks, rural farmland, and animals. When you arrive at the Blue Crater, take a short walk to the circular pool, up to 26 feet (8 m) deep. Sediment lies trapped at the bottom of the pool, creating crystalline waters. Spend some time swimming and taking underwater photos of the gardens and wildlife. Once the sun starts to set, head back to Flores for a relaxed evening.
Day 12: Fly to Guatemala City, Spiritual Maya Ceremony
This morning, you'll take a shuttle to Flores airport for your flight back to Guatemala City. After checking into your hotel, you'll take part in a Maya fire ceremony. A local guide will explain the significance of this experience and prepare you for the event, led by a spiritual guide known as El Ajq'ij. You'll participate with candles, which play a large part in this ceremony and serve to align your energy with the cosmos. The Maya have been holding these ceremonies for over 5,000 years.
Day 13: Transfer to Guatemala City Airport & Depart
Today your Guatemala adventure comes to an end. Take the hotel shuttle to the Guatemala City Airport in time for your onward flight. Safe travels!