This epic two-week adventure combines a number of guided excursions in Central America. Kick-off in Guatemala City, where you'll walk amid Spanish colonial history. From here, venture into the gorgeous countryside for swimming, hiking, and tubing in nature reserves, caves, and waterfalls. Next, tour the ancient pyramids at Tikal National Park and then cross the border into Belize for horseback riding, more Maya ruins, and plenty of time to snorkel in the Belize Barrier Reef.


  • See the historic sites in Guatemala City with a local guide
  • Explore nature trails while looking for rare birds and wildlife
  • Visit Tikal National Park and hike up to the ancient pyramids
  • Go snorkeling at Belize's famous dive sites including the Blue Hole

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Guided Tour Guatemala City
Day 2 Hike in Biotopo del Quetzal, Transfer to Cobán Cobán
Day 3 Hike & Swim at Semuc Champey, Transfer to Lanquín Lanquín
Day 4 Transfer to Cobán, Hike & Swim at Laguna Lachúa Cobán
Day 5 Visit Cuevas Candelaria, Transfer to Flores Flores
Day 6 Transfer to Tikal National Park, Guided Tour Tikal National Park
Day 7 Tour the Yaxhá Ruins, Transfer to San Ignacio (Belize) San Ignacio
Day 8 Visit the Lamanai Ruins, New River Boat Tour San Ignacio
Day 9 Horseback Ride to Xunantunich Ruins San Ignacio
Day 10 Cave Tubing Day Trip San Ignacio
Day 11 Transfer to Caye Caulker, Snorkel Tour Caye Caulker
Day 12 Free Day in Caye Caulker Caye Caulker
Day 13 Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour Caye Caulker
Day 14 Transfer to Belize City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Guided Tour

Start your tour at the Plaza de la Constitución in Guatemala City
Welcome to Guatemala! This Central American country has long flown under the radar as a travel destination in Latin America. Not anymore, as more folks are discovering the history, culture, and natural beauty of Guatemala. It's a country filled with volcanoes, colonial cities, tropical rainforests, and the most awe-inspiring Maya ruins in the Americas. On this adventure, you'll see it all, plus hop over the border to Belize for some Caribbean fun.
First things first, however. Upon arrival at the airport in Guatemala City, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. Then head out for an intro to Guatemala's capital on a half-day guided tour. Along with your guide, you'll visit the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center") and the Plaza de la Constitución. Next, tour the National Palace of Culture, which houses a museum showcasing Guatemala's history, art, and culture. You'll also visit the city's famous religious landmarks like the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, the St. Augustine Rectory, and the Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen.

Day 2: Hike in Biotopo del Quetzal, Transfer to Cobán

Explore the streets of Cobán and look for street food vendors
Wake up early for the 4.5-hour drive north from Guatemala City to Cobán, a small city located deep in the heart of Guatemala's coffee country. It's a long drive, but you'll stop along the way at scenic viewpoints for photos, and a local village for snacks. 
You'll also stop at the Biotopo del Quetzal, a 2,580-acre (1,044 ha) nature reserve. This is where you'll embark on a one-hour nature hike along one of its two well-maintained nature trails to a 45-foot (13 m) waterfall plunging into a lagoon. Other than the scenery, this cloud forest reserve is most famous for being home to the resplendent quetzal. This bird is Guatemala's national symbol and has been revered since the Maya civilization. During the hike, keep an eye out for this rare specimen, which is most commonly spotted between January and June. 
After the hike, continue driving to Cobán and check into the hotel for your overnight. Once settled, feel free to take a walk and sample the local street food.

Day 3: Hike & Swim at Semuc Champey, Transfer to Lanquín

Semuc Champey cascading pools
Take a refreshing swim in Semuc Champey's terraced pools
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. This is where your guide will lead you by candlelight into underground caverns filled with rivers, waterfalls, and unique 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 overlooking the terraced pools 2,300 feet (700 m) below. Then 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 to Lanquín, where you'll check into a hotel.

Day 4: Transfer to Cobán, Hike & Swim at Laguna Lachúa

Spend the day hiking and swimming at Laguna Lachúa
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
In the morning you'll transfer two hours back to Cobán. The mountains surrounding this alpine town are filled with evergreen forests, coffee plantations, and freshwater streams. Once in town, you'll continue north toward the border with Mexico and Laguna Lachuá National Park. This 56-square-mile (145-sq km) reserve protects 220 species of plants and 210 species of birds and mammals.
Mostly, Laguna Lachúa is famous for its glassy turquoise lake surrounded by a dense tropical jungle and is home to an abundance of animal species including jaguars, pumas, and tapirs. You'll get to spend a few hours hiking around this beautiful body of water and can even dive in for a swim. Afterward, return to your hotel in Cobán.

Day 5: Visit Cuevas Candelaria, Transfer to Flores

Drive to the lake town of Flores after some river tubing
After breakfast, you and your driver will continue into northern Guatemala to the lake town of Flores, the gateway to Tikal National Park. Along the way, you'll stop at Candelaria Caves for an exciting day of inner-tubing at B'omb'il Pek. With a flashlight in hand, navigate your way through this system of caves (one of Central America's largest) along underground rivers that are carved into the limestone mountains. After emerging from the caves, dry off and continue the drive to Flores, about 3.5 hours north, where you'll stay overnight. Explore the colorful, cobbled streets at your own pace!

Day 6: Transfer to Tikal National Park, Guided Tour

Start your tour at Tikal's Temple of the Great Jaguar (Temple I)
In the morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel in Flores for the one-hour drive north to Tikal. Upon arrival, you'll get to explore the famous Maya ruins of this 222-square-mile (576 sq km) national park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the former capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya world and boasts the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas, which stands 270 feet (70 m). 

You and your local guide will explore this vast complex of temples and pyramids until late in the afternoon. During your visit, you'll see all the major sites of interest including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, as well as the Lost World, the Complex Q, the Great Plaza, the Window Palace, and more. Keep an eye out for wildlife along the tour and enjoy the sights and sounds of the jungle. You'll also have time to wander around on your own before retiring to your hotel in the park.

Day 7: Tour the Yaxhá Ruins, Transfer to San Ignacio (Belize)

Yaxhá National Park offers more than 500 structures
A guide and driver will pick you up in the morning for the ride to Yaxhá National Park, located between the Sacnab and Yaxhá lakes. This archaeological site comprises the ruins of an ancient Maya city and ceremonial center that 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). You'll also climb Temple 216, which is the site's tallest temple at 98 feet (30 m).

At the end of the tour, you'll continue driving east to the border town of Melchor. This is where you'll cross into the country of Belize and continue to the town of San Ignacio, where you'll overnight. 

Day 8: Visit Lamanai Ruins, New River Boat Tour

Lamanai Maya ruins
Look for Maya masks as you wander through Lamanai's archaeological site
Today, you'll visit the Maya ruins of Lamanai. Sitting on the banks of the New River, the second-largest archeological site in Belize covers 860 acres (384 ha) and is filled with temple ruins and stelae (stone monuments). Once a great Maya city, Lamanai had a long run as it was first settled in the Early Pre-Classic period (1000-800 BCE) and was only abandoned around 1600 CE after the Spanish arrived. Along with expert guides, you'll explore the temples, plazas, palaces, and museums in the park.
Afterward, you'll depart Lamanai by boat for a scenic ride down the New River. This waterway snakes from Lamanai through the jungle to the coast and is filled with exotic wildlife. As you travel down the river, you'll be treated to sightings of animals in and around the water including iguanas, parrots, toucans, and aracari. Also, Morelet's crocodiles are frequently seen in these waters. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel in San Ignacio.

Day 9: Horseback Ride to Xunantunich Ruins

Explore the Xunantunich ruins on foot and horseback

In the morning, you'll leave San Ignacio for a half-day tour of the nearby archeological site of Xunantunich. Rather than taking a car to the ruins of this ancient Maya city, you'll be riding there on horseback. The tour begins at a local stable where you'll meet your guide, mount your horse, and depart. The ride takes you along a well-maintained trail through a large private farm, along the banks of the Mopan River, and past the village of San José Succotz. Here you will cross the river on an old (but safe) hand-operated ferry and then ride up to Xunantunich.
When you arrive, dismount and begin the tour of Xunantunich on foot. This archeological site was once a city that reached its height of power during the seventh century CE but was abandoned around 750 CE. It covers 1 square mile (2.6 sq km) and you'll explore the main area's six plazas and 26 temples and palaces. Afterward, you'll ride to a nearby restaurant for a delicious lunch of traditional Belizean food and then make the return trip.

Day 10: Cave Tubing Day Trip

Float through river caves in Belize while looking for stalactites and stalagmites
After breakfast, you'll hop in the car for the one-hour drive along Belize's Western Highway. Then travel another 30 minutes on a dirt road to the Caves Branch site. After a 45-minute hike through the jungle, you'll arrive at the river and the caverns, where the day's adventure awaits.
Following a safety briefing, you'll gear up, hop in your tube, and let the current carry you into the first of two cave passages. As you float downstream through the caverns, you'll see hanging stalactites, towering stalagmites, and even some ancient Maya artifacts like pottery. During the ride, there will be opportunities to stop for snacks and swim in natural swimming holes. Once you've passed through the last cavern, you'll stop on the riverbank for a picnic lunch before returning to the vehicle and San Ignacio.

Day 11: Transfer to Caye Caulker, Snorkel Tour

Snorkel among gentle sea creatures in Caye Caulker Marine Reserve

This morning your driver will pick you up for the two-hour drive east from San Ignacio to Belize City and the azure waters of the Caribbean. Here, you'll hop in a water taxi for the 45-minute ride north to Caye Caulker. This tiny island measures just 5 miles (8 km) long and less than 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and is known for its laid-back spirit. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel in Caye Caulker Village.

A short while later, you'll get back on a boat for a five-hour tour of the island's biggest draw: the Caye Caulker Marine Reserve. This 61-square-mile (157 sq km) portion of the Belize Barrier Reef runs parallel to the island's coast and features many world-class dive sites, three of which you'll visit for a snorkel. In this underwater paradise, you'll swim among coral gardens and see exotic fish including rays, parrotfish, turtles, eels, and (perhaps) sharks. The remaining two stops on the tour are sightseeing excursions to try and spot tarpons and manatees.

Day 12: Free Day in Caulker Caye

Take a chill day and relax at the beach in Caulker Caye
Today you'll have a free day to spend in Caulker Caye however you choose! Sunbathe on the island's white-sand beaches, take a kayak out for a spin, and swim and snorkel in the Caribbean Sea.

Day 13: Blue Hole Snorkeling Tour

Blue Hole
Snorkel in Belize's famous Blue Hole

Before the sun rises above Belize's coastline, you'll leave on a full-day snorkeling tour to the famous Blue Hole, a giant marine sinkhole that first formed as a limestone cavern during the last Ice Age. This popular dive spot, which can be seen from space, is an icon of Belize due to its almost perfectly circular shape—it measures 1,043 feet (318 m) across and 407 feet (124 m) deep. Your journey here begins around 5:30 am with a 2.5-hour boat ride southeast to Lighthouse Reef and the dive site.

The early start is well worth it, as you'll discover once you plunge into the Blue Hole and swim beneath its shimmering surface. As you break through the thermocline layer into the deeper, motionless waters below, you'll be treated to visibility of up to 200 feet (60 m). In this environment, you'll see everything from giant underwater stalactites to reef sharks, parrotfish, and turtles cruising past.

Day 14: Transfer to Belize City, Depart

Travel by water taxi back to Belize City
Wake up and enjoy one last Caribbean sunrise in Belize. After a leisurely breakfast, hop in a water taxi for the 45-minute ride back to Belize City and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

More Great Guatemala Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Guatemala? Check out these other Guatemala itineraries, explore different ways to spend 14 days in Guatemala, or discover the best time to visit Guatemala.


Map of Guatemala & Belize: Culture, Nature & the Caribbean Sea - 14 Days
Map of Guatemala & Belize: Culture, Nature & the Caribbean Sea - 14 Days