This exciting two-week itinerary of Guatemala perfectly combines adventure and cultural exploration with two nights of camping on Belize's remote Lime Caye. Deep-dive into the Mayan past as you wander amid the ruins of Tikal, rub elbows with the K'iche' Maya people at the Chichicastenango market and meet with local Mayan communities around stunning Lake Atitlán. You'll inner-tube a complex cave system at B'omb'il Pek, snorkel the Belize Barrier Reef, and hike the still-active Pacaya Volcano outside of Antigua.

Highlights

  • Take a dip in Semuc Champey's stunning turquoise pools
  • Explore the well-preserved Mayan ruins at ancient Tikal 
  • Enjoy a boat ride of Río Dulce to the Guatemalan Caribbean
  • Spend two nights on the remote Lime Caye island in Belize
  • Roam the picturesque streets of colonial Antigua

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Transfer to Cobán - Explore Ram Tzul Cobán
Day 3 Day trip to Semuc Champey Cobán
Day 4 Inner-tubing in Candelaria - Transfer to Tikal National Park Tikal National Park
Day 5 Explore Tikal Tikal National Park
Day 6 Transfer to Río Dulce - Boat tour to Livingston Livingston
Day 7-8 Boat transfer to Lime Caye, Belize Cayo District
Day 9 Boat transfer to Puerto Barrios - Fly to Guatemala City Guatemala city
Day 10 Experience Chichicastenango Lake Atitlán
Day 11 Boat tour of Lake Atitlán - Transfer to Antigua Guatemala Antigua
Day 12 Experience Antigua Antigua
Day 13 Day trip to Pacaya Volcano & Santa Terisita hot spring Antigua
Day 14 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua

Guatemala - Antigua - San José cathedral
Stroll through Central Park to visit the  San José Cathedral

Welcome to Antigua! A representative will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel where you will receive your detailed itinerary for the next two weeks. Depending on your arrival time, stretch your legs with a stroll and explore your surroundings of Central America's favorite colonial town.

Day 2: Transfer to Cobán - Explore Ram Tzul

Ram Tzul, Alta Verapaz
Trek to idyllic waterfalls in the otherworldly Ram Tzul reserve

Rise early today for your transfer north to Cobán, stopping first at the Ram Tzul eco-hotel along the way. Take advantage of the stunning location and trek some of its 100-hectares over moss and amid orchids, ferns, and waterfalls. If you're lucky, you may spot Guatemala's national (and colorful) bird, the resplendent quetzal. From here, you'll continue a little ways further north to the highland city of Cobán.

Day 3: Day trip to Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey, Alta Verapaz
Cool off with a refreshing swim in one of Semuc Champey's pools

After breakfast, you'll transfer from your hotel for a full day excursion to the department of Alta Verapaz' crown jewels: the breathtaking limestone bridge and stepped-turquoise pools of Semuc Champey. En route, you'll switch vehicles and climb into a 4X4 at the Q'eqchi' Maya town of Lanquín before making your way to Semuc Champey. Climb the 984-foot bridge for all-encompassing views of the Cahabón River and surrounding lush landscape and take a dip in one of the series of pools to reward yourself.

Day 4: Inner-tubing in Candelaria - Transfer to Tikal National Park

Cuevas de Candelaria, Guatemala
Float in the dark through a labyrinth of caves in Candelaria

Get an early start today for your transfer to the Candelaria Caves National Park 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) and underground rivers carved into the limestone mountains in the north of Alta Verapaz. When you've made your way through, dry off and continue your journey to your accommodation in northern Guatemala in Tikal National Park.

Day 5: Explore Tikal

Tikal, Guatemala
Discover the tallest pre-Colombian structure in the Americas at Tikal

Spend a full day today exploring the ancient Mayan citadel of Tikal. Located in the department of Petén, the site is known for its Maya ruins, complete with towering pyramids and sprawling columns. It was the capital of one of the Mayas' most powerful kingdoms and is currently home to the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas.

Follow your expert guide through the temples and pyramids, stopping at all the significant points of interest, including Temples I, II, II, IV, and V, Lost World (Mundo Perdido), Complex Q, The Great Plaza, The Window Palace, and more. After a break for lunch, you'll have more time to explore the site on your own and watch for the resident wildlife along your way as well.

Day 6: Transfer to Río Dulce - Boat tour to Livingston

Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Enjoy a boat ride across Río Dulce to Livingston

Today you will head south to Río Dulce ("Sweet Water" in English) and hop aboard a pleasure craft for an afternoon of touring the river to Livingston on the Amatique Bay. A boaters' paradise, many visitors come to enjoy bird watching and orchid spotting, where a number of unique aquatic bird species can be found. You'll have the chance to stop periodically to take a dip in a hot spring or check out a hidden cave along the river's banks.

Day 7-8: Boat transfer to Lime Caye, Belize

Caye Lime, Cayo District Belize
Swim and snorkel the Belize Barrier Reef and marvel at the vibrant marine life

After another early start this morning, you'll board a boat to transfer from Livingston to Lime Caye at the southern tip of the Belize Barrier Reef (about an hour and a half). The UNESCO-protected Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest reef in the world and is home to over 100 species of coral and 500 species of tropical fish, making this destination a paradise for snorkelers and divers alike. Spend the next three days as you choose, alternating between relaxing on the white sand beaches, fishing, swimming, snorkeling, and diving, all the while marveling at the breathtaking beauty of the area and its wildlife.

Day 9: Boat transfer to Puerto Barrios - Fly to Guatemala City

Guatemala - Guatemala City - Palacio Nacional de la Cultura and Cathedral of Guatemala City
Palacio Nacional de la Cultura and Cathedral of Guatemala City

After indulging in paradise, it's time to ready yourself to return to the mainland in the early afternoon to catch your flight from Puerto Barrios to Guatemala City. Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport to drive you to your hotel. If you aren't too tired, you can take the opportunity to hit the town and explore the capital city.

Day 10: Experience Chichicastenango

Guatemala - Chichicastenango Market
Work your way through the lively Chichicastenango market

This morning, you'll set out into the western highlands in the El Quiché department and to Chichicastenango, a K'iche' Maya (Indigenous Mayan peoples) cultural center. Here you will get to visit the vibrant and colorful open-air craft market of Chichicastenango, arriving there by mid-morning. Going on for more than 4,000 years, Chichicastenango is one of the country's largest markets. Stroll amid its stalls and vendors, picking up a locally made handicraft as a gift or souvenir.

Next, you'll visit a mask factory that manufactures masks for traditional Guatemalan dances before being introduced to Guatemala syncretism (a mix of Mayan religious beliefs with Catholicism) at the Church of Santo Tomás. When it's time, you'll make your way south to Panajachel along Lake Atitlán to check into your hotel for the evening.

Day 11: Boat tour of Lake Atitlán - Transfer to Antigua Guatemala

Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake Atitlán
Visit Santa Cruz la Laguna on Lake Atitlán

Considered to be among the most beautiful lakes in the world, Atitlan's sparkling blue waters are surrounded by dramatic volcanoes, giving the lake a uniquely magical atmosphere. Its shores are home to several indigenous Mayan villages, and you'll get to visit a few during your private boat tour, like San Juan La Laguna and Santiago Atitlán. Take time to explore the local markets, shops, and cooperatives, and learn about Mayan traditions. 

By mid-afternoon, you'll transfer from Lake Atitlán east to Antigua Guatemala, set in a valley beneath three volcanoes.

Day 12: Experience Antigua

Tanque de la Unión, Antigua Guatemala
Admire Antigua's colorful colonial buildings

After breakfast, set out on a walking tour of Antigua. As you stroll down charming cobblestone lanes, you'll see beautiful streetscapes of pastel facades against a mountain backdrop, some exquisitely preserved colonial buildings, and lush green parks and plazas. The haunting ruins of the many churches, like the bright yellow La Merced or the San Francisco Church, and La Recoleccion, a former convent, destroyed in a massive earthquake in the 1700s are part of what gives Antigua its unique character.

Take in the stunning view of the Santa Catalina Arch before paying a visit to the buildings around the main square. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening tasting delicious street food, souvenir shopping in the crafts markets, and exploring the nightlife.

Day 13: Day trip to Pacaya Volcano & Santa Terisita hot spring

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala
Trek through lava fields up to Pacaya's summit

Together with your guide, you will drive to the base of the Pacaya Volcano, one of 37 volcanoes that make up the ring of fire, to begin your two-hour trek. While the 8,300-foot-tall (2,530 m) volcano has been continuously active since 1965, there is only minor activity on most days. Enjoy a picnic lunch and stunning views at the top before your descent and return to Antigua, stopping along the way at the Santa Teresita Hotel and Thermal Spa. Experience an afternoon of relaxation as you follow a therapeutic circuit of 13 thermal pools and a sauna. For further indulgence, consider adding a massage.

Day 14: Depart

Santa Catalina Arch, Guatemala
Enjoy one last morning in Anitgua Guatemala (Santa Catalina Arch)

It's time to say adiós to Guatemala. At your convenience, you will meet your driver at your hotel to transfer to the airport in Guatemala City (1.5 hours) for your international flight.

Map

Map of Guatemala and Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Cobblestone Streets - 14 Days
Map of Guatemala and Belize: Ruins, Reefs & Cobblestone Streets - 14 Days