With warm days and cool nights, winter is the perfect time to delve into Guatemala's natural and ancient wonders. This six-day adventure kicks off with sightseeing in Guatemala City before flying north to explore the country's most famous archaeological site—the UNESCO-listed temple complex at Tikal. After hiking ancient Maya pyramids, head south to Lago Izabal and take a ride down the jade waters of the Río Dulce.


  • Tour the historic streets of Guatemala City
  • Witness the sunset from atop an ancient Maya temple
  • Hike the pyramids of Tikal, the most famous Maya complex in Guatemala
  • Spot howler monkeys as you float down the jade waters of the Río Dulce

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City Guatemala City
Day 2 Transfer from Guatemala to Tikal, Yaxhá Sunset Tikal National Park
Day 3 Tour Maya Ruins at Tikal, Transfer to Río Dulce Río Dulce
Day 4 Río Dulce Boat Tour to Livingston Livingston
Day 5 Transfer to Guatemala City, Visit Quirigua Ruins Guatemala City
Day 6 Depart Guatemala  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City

Plaza de la Constitución, Guatemala City

Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Guatemala City. After checking in, feel free to head out and explore the nation's capital on foot.

Highlights you'll want to see include the Centro Histórico (Historic Center) near the Plaza de la Constitución. Here you can visit the National Palace of Culture, which houses a museum showcasing Guatemala's history, art, and culture. You can also stop at some of the city's most famous religious landmarks, such as the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the whitewashed Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen

After working up an appetite, you might want to visit Mercado Central to taste a variety of traditional Guatemalan dishes as well as browse vendors selling clothing, crafts, and souvenirs. The rest of the day is yours to explore the city's highlights or relax at the hotel.

Day 2: Transfer from Guatemala to Tikal, Yaxhá Sunset

Climb the pyramids of Yaxhá for an unforgettable sunset
In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport for the one-hour flight north to the Petén region and the lakeside town of Flores. You'll then drive east to Yaxhá. This archaeological site comprises the ruins of an ancient Maya city and ceremonial center that reached its height of power during the Maya Classic Period (200-900 CE). During this time it was the third-largest city in the region. Here, you can hike up Temple 216 and witness a beautiful sunset over the rainforest canopy. Afterward, you'll transfer about 1.5 hours north to Tikal National Park, where you'll overnight.

Day 3: Tour Maya Ruins at Tikal, Transfer to Río Dulce

The archaeological site at Tikal National Park

You'll head to the ruins of Tikal this morning, a famous archaeological site that covers 222 square miles (576 sq km). Dating to around 400 BCE, Tikal 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. 

Not only will you explore the ruins of this ancient Maya city, but this rainforest area 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. Highlight landmarks you'll visit include the Grand Plaza, which sits between two massive temples, and the Temple of the Great Jaguar (Temple II). Feel free to hike to the top of this 148-foot (45-m) pyramid via a wooden staircase. 

Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After lunch in the park, you'll transfer south for about 5.5 hours to Lago Izabal. The eastern end of the lake feeds the Río Dulce ("sweet river"), which flows into the Caribbean sea near Guatemala's eastern border with Belize. Upon arrival at the lake and the entrance to the Río Dulce, you'll check in to a hotel and have the remainder of the evening free. 

Day 4: Río Dulce Boat Tour to Livingston

Castle San Felipe, on the way to Livingston

It's an early start today as you hop on a boat for a three-hour ride down the Río Dulce. While traveling down the jade waters, marvel at the stunning scenery, which includes rainforest-lined riverbanks, howler monkeys swinging from the trees, and lilies and orchids dotting the surface of the tranquil waters. You'll pass a colonial fortress castle along the way, and there might even be time for a stop at some natural hot springs and hidden caves.

At the mouth of the river, you'll hop aboard another boat for the approximately one-hour ride along the coast to the Afro-Caribbean town of Livingston, where you'll overnight. Sample some excellent Caribbean seafood for dinner, then spend the rest of your evening getting to know this relaxed beach community famous for its distinctive Garifuna culture.  

Day 5: Transfer to Guatemala City, Visit Quirigua Ruins

Ancient stelae at the Quirigua Ruins

After a morning in Livingston, you'll hop on a boat for the ride back up the Río Dulce to Lago Izabal. Along the way, there's a detour to the Quiriguá Ruins, an ancient Maya archaeological site in southeastern Guatemala. The site covers about 2 square miles (3 sq km) along the Motagua River. During its heyday around 800 CE, it was an administrative center at the junction of several important trade routes. Today, it's famous for its 17 impressive sandstone stelae (monuments), which you'll see up close. 

When the tour of Quirigua is over, continue to Lago Izabal and then transfer by vehicle for about 5.5 hours to reach Guatemala City. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and enjoy your final evening in the capital at your leisure.

Day 6: Depart Guatemala

Farewell, Guatemala
Sadly, your adventure amid Guatemala's rainforests, rivers, and archaeological sites has come to an end. In the morning, your driver will transfer you to the airport in Guatemala City, where you'll catch your flight home. Adios!

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Map of Guatemala Winter Escape: Rainforests, Rivers & Ruins - 6 Days
Map of Guatemala Winter Escape: Rainforests, Rivers & Ruins - 6 Days