Experience the best of Guatemala and its Caribbean neighbor Belize on this action-packed nine-day adventure. You'll arrive in Guatemala City and, from there, embark on lake tours, volcano hikes, and visits to ancient Maya ruins. Then you'll hop over the border to the Belize highlands, your base for excursions to Caribbean isles and even more historic ruins.


  • Tour Guatemala's lakeside villages and hike volcanoes
  • Camp overnight on an active volcano
  • Visit ancient Maya ruins at Tikal National Park
  • Take nature tours and snorkeling trips in Belize

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Optional Activities Guatemala City
Day 2 Day Trip to Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 3 Hike Acatenango Volcano & Camp Overnight Acatenango Volcano
Day 4 Sunrise on Acatenango, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 5 Fly to Tikal National Park Tikal National Park
Day 6 Yaxhá Ruins Tour, Transfer to San Ignacio (Belize) San Ignacio
Day 7 Visit Lamanai Ruins, Río Nuevo Boat Tour San Ignacio
Day 8 Transfer to Caye Caulker, Snorkel Belize's Barrier Reef Caye Caulker
Day 9 Transfer to Belize City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Optional Activities

Plaza de la Constitución, in Guatemala City

Welcome to Guatemala! You'll soon discover that this relatively small Central American nation boasts some of the most incredible landscapes and deepest of culture in Central America. First, though, you need to get your bearings. Upon arrival at the airport in Guatemala City, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.

After checking in, you can then embark on a self-guided tour of the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center"). Head to the Plaza de la Constitución, where you can 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, Iglesia San Augustin, and Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen

Day 2: Day Trip to Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua

Take a boat tour around Lake Atitlán

Wake up early and meet your driver for the three-hour ride west to Lake Atitlán. Here, you'll board a boat for a tour around some of the lakeside villages. In the company of a local guide, you'll stop at towns far off the tourist trail and offer a truly authentic cultural experience. For example, you'll visit a local women's weaving co-op and see how they turn cotton into beautiful textiles by hand. You'll also visit a shrine to Maximón, an infamous Maya saint known for his depraved behavior.

After the tour, you'll drive about two hours back east to the historic city of Antigua. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by three towering volcanoes and is the most well-preserved Spanish colonial city in the country. Once you've checked in to your hotel, you can spend the rest of the day walking Antigua's cobbled streets and enjoying local street food like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala). Be sure to stop by historic landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch and the ruins of the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral and 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.

Day 3: Hike Acatenango Volcano & Camp Overnight

Camp on the slopes of Acatenango

At 8 am, meet your hiking group at Old Town Outfitters in Antigua. Here, you'll fill up water bottles and stock up on gear. Then take a one-hour drive to the slope of Acatenango volcano and the village of La Soledad, where the trailhead is located. The route up the volcano has four microclimates, each of which will take you about an hour to hike. You'll start by walking up a steep path through farmland, which is the same trail used by villagers to reach their crops. The first hour of hiking is a nice warm-up for your leg muscles in preparation for the rest of the journey.

The second phase of the hike passes through an old-growth, high-alpine cloud forest. This type of cloud forest is found on the higher slopes of many of Guatemala's tallest volcanoes and is home to many exotic birds, including the famous resplendent quetzal. After emerging from the cloud forest around mid-day, you'll be treated to fantastic views of the other highland volcanoes: Atitlán, Tolimán, San Pedro, Santa María, Santo Tomás, and Tajamulco. You'll have plenty of time to admire the scenery as you take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch.

Temperate and tropical forests characterize the third part of your ascent, which leads to the storm-beaten tree line of the volcano. Your campsite is just below this tree line and offers sweeping views of the Antigua Valley and the adjacent Fuego volcano. After setting up camp, take some time to stretch out and relax while your guide prepares dinner at 12,300 feet (3,750 m). Enjoy your meal while marveling at the awe-inspiring display of Fuego volcano's eruptions.

Day 4: Sunrise on Acatenango, Transfer to Antigua

Historic Antigua, with Agua volcano looming overhead

Depending on weather conditions, your group will rise early, enjoy the sunrise over volcano peaks, and embark on a 45-minute/1-hour trek up a gravel trail through a pine forest. This is the steepest trail yet, and it leads to the rocky, windy summit of Acatenango's peak.

At the summit, rest and enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the Guatemalan highlands stretching all the way to Mexico. After breakfast and breaking camp, you'll begin the three-hour descent back to La Soledad. This route follows a different trail, so you can enjoy even more beautiful scenery as you descend through different microclimates. From La Soledad, you'll transfer back to Antigua and proceed to your hotel.

Day 5: Fly to Tikal National Park

Temple I (the Temple of the Great Jaguar)

In the morning, your driver will pick you up, and you'll transfer back to Guatemala City and the airport, where you'll catch a one-hour flight north to the Petén region and the lakeside town of Flores. A representative will be waiting at the airport to transfer you by car another hour north to Tikal National Park, home to the famous ancient Maya ruins. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel right in the park.

There's no time to waste because, on arrival, you'll meet a local expert guide for a half-day tour of Tikal. This archaeological site covers 222 square miles (576 sq km) and comprises the ruins of an ancient city that was a powerhouse during the Classic Maya period (250-900 CE) but fell into disrepair after it was abandoned around the 10th century. It was engulfed by the rainforest and remained hidden until it was discovered and excavated in the 20th century. Tikal boasts the tallest pre-Colombian structure in the Americas, Temple IV, which stands 270 feet (70 m).

The ruins aren't the only highlights, either, because the rainforest surrounding it is part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. It's home to exotic animals like monkeys, toucans, parakeets, and other tropical birds, so keep your eyes peeled, and your camera close as you explore the ruins. Throughout the tour, you'll visit major points of interest, including Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, the Window Palace, and more.

Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 6: Yaxhá Ruins Tour, Transfer to San Ignacio (Belize)

Sunset over the ruins at Yaxhá
In the morning, a driver will transfer you 1.5 hours to Yaxhá National Park. Here, you'll meet a guide for a half-day tour. 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). One major highlight is a hike up Temple 216, which is the site's tallest temple at 98 feet (30 m).
After the tour, you'll transfer by vehicle one hour east, crossing the border into Belize and arriving in San Ignacio. This town sits on the Río Macal and is surrounded by jungle, which allows for some great nature tours and visits to archeological sites. Once here, you'll check in to your hotel and will have the rest of the day free.

Day 7: Visit Lamanai Ruins, Río Nuevo Boat Tour

The Mask Temple, one of Lamanai's famous stelae
Wake up early for a full-day excursion by land and water. First up, you'll transfer by vehicle about three hours north to the Maya ruins of Lamanai. Sitting on the banks of the Río Nuevo, 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.

Then it's time to give your legs a break as you depart Lamanai by boat for a leisurely and scenic ride down the Río Nuevo. 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 views of the abundant fauna in and around the water that include iguanas, parrots, toucans, and aracari. Also, Morelet's crocodiles are frequently seen in these waters. After the riverboat tour, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 8: Transfer to Caye Caulker, Snorkel Belize's Barrier Reef

Do some snorkeling in Belize
Wake up early, because this morning you're off to the Caribbean. A driver will transfer you two hours from San Ignacio to Belize City, on the coast. Then take a water taxi about 45 minutes north to Caye Caulker, a small coral island measuring just five miles (8 km) long and less than 1 mile (1.6 km) wide. There's only one small village here, with the majority of the island's area comprised of mangrove forests and sand bars. Right off the beaches are sections of the Belize Barrier Reef (the second-largest barrier reef in the world), home to whale sharks, dolphins, rays, hammerhead sharks, and more.
After checking in to your hotel you'll get to explore this famous barrier reef yourself on a snorkeling tour. The adventure begins with a one-hour boat ride across turquoise Caribbean waters to a top snorkeling area. Put on your gear and jump into the sea to discover a biodiverse aquatic wonderland filled with colorful corals and exotic sea creatures. Spot everything from darting reef fish to manta rays, octopus, jellyfish, and even sharks.

If there's time after the tour, you can take a ferry to neighboring Ambergris Caye, which has been inhabited over the centuries by the Maya people, Mexicans fleeing the Caste War of Yucatán, and even European pirates. Here, you can walk the streets of the main San Pedro Town and visit the museum to learn about the island's rich history. This town is also a major hub for the fishing industry in the region, so you're never far from wooden houses and local restaurants serving fresh seafood. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel on Caye Caulker. 

Day 9: Transfer to Belize City & Depart

Farewell, Belize
Unfortunately, your combined Guatemala/Belize adventure has come to an end. In the morning, you'll board a ferry from Caye Caulker to Belize City. When you arrive, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Guatemala & Northern Belize Adventure - 9 Days
Map of Guatemala & Northern Belize Adventure - 9 Days