Discover Guatemala, the last stronghold of the Mayan civilization, on this culture-forward trip starting and ending in colonial Antigua. Explore Tikal National Park, splash into nature on a tubing adventure through Alta Verapaz's cave system at B'omb'il Pek, and swim in the natural pools of Semuc Champey. Take in striking mountain scenery in Guatemala's Western Highlands, and visit Mayan villages along the shores of Lake Atitlán.

Highlights

  • Explore the well-preserved Mayan ruins at ancient Tikal 
  • Take a dip in Semuc Champey's stunning turquoise pools
  • Visit the unforgettable and ancient Candelaría Cenotes in the Western Highlands 
  • Enjoy a boat tour of stunning Lake Atitlán and its surrounding communities
  • Admire the Baroque architecture and fascinating church ruins in Antigua

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua Antigua
Day 2 Fly to Flores, Explore Tikal Tikal National Park
Day 3 B'omb'il Pek Excursion, Transfer to Cobán Cobán
Day 4 Day Trip to Semuc Champey Cobán
Day 5 Transfer to Huehuetenango Huehuetenango
Day 6 Day Trip to Cenotes de Candelaría & Hoyo el Cimarrón Huehuetenango
Day 7 Transfer to Panajachel Lake Atitlán
Day 8 Boat Tour of Lake Atitlán, Return to Antigua Antigua
Day 9 Bike Antigua's Local Villages Antigua
Day 10 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua

Guatemala - Antigua - Church of San Francisco el Grande
Church of San Francisco el Grande

Welcome to Guatemala! You'll meet your driver at the Guatemala City international airport for a transfer to your hotel in Antigua, roughly an hour away. The one-time capital of Spanish colonial Guatemala, Antigua, was abandoned in the 1700s after a devastating earthquake. Three volcanoes dominate the landscape of this unique city, where you'll discover ornate baroque architecture, a bustling food scene, and fascinating church ruins.

Depending on your arrival details, you might like to get out and explore your surroundings. Visit the Church of San Francisco, Santo Domingo ruins, La Merced church and ruins, and the famous Santa Catalina Arch. Then stroll the Main Square and the surrounding municipality, palace, and cathedral before finding a restaurant to enjoy your first meal in Guatemala.

Day 2: Fly to Flores, Explore Tikal

Tikal, Archaeological site.
Discover the ancient Maya ruins sprawled throughout Tikal National Park

You'll get an early start this morning for a transfer to Guatemala City to catch a short flight to Flores. From here, you'll meet your driver and local guide to transfer directly to the UNESCO-protected Tikal National Park. The site is known for its impressive pyramids and sprawling ruins. It was the capital of one of the ancient 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, III, IV, and V, Lost World, Complex Q, The Great Plaza, and The Window Palace. After a break for lunch, you'll have additional time to explore the site on your own and watch for the resident wildlife along your way, as well. When it's time, you'll return to your hotel for an afternoon of leisure.

Day 3: B'omb'il Pek Excursion, Transfer to Cobán

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

Following an early start, you'll make your way south toward Cobán for an exciting afternoon of inner-tubing the B'omb'ilPek caves at Chisec. Meaning "painted stone" in English, you'll grab a flashlight and set off to 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, you'll return to your hotel in Cobán.

Day 4: Day Trip to Semuc Champey

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

This morning 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 for a refreshing soak.

You'll return to Cobán for an evening on your own.

Day 5: Transfer to Huehuetenango

Guatemala - Huehuetenango - Road winds through forested hills in highlands of Huehuetenango
Drive through the forested hills in the highlands of Huehuetenango

Set off bright and early to Huehuetenango in Guatemala's Western Highlands, periodically stopping to visit the pueblitos (small towns) along the way.

Day 6: Day Trip to Cenotes de Candelaría & Hoyo el Cimarrón

Cenote de Candelaria, Huehuetenango.
Cenote de Candelaría, Huehuetenango.

Today is reserved for an exciting day of discovery. You'll begin with a transfer to the strikingly beautiful and ancient Cenotes de Candelaría. Close to 100 feet deep (30 m), the first of the glassy cenotes (sinkholes) has a diameter of over 250 feet (80 m) and makes for gorgeous photographs and an excellent opportunity to enjoy a swim.

In the early afternoon, you'll make your way to Hoyo el Cimarrón, a massive limestone sinkhole that descends about 650 feet (200 m) and is home to an ecosystem of woodland and animals. It is believed the forest at the bottom of Cimarrón is fed by a stream thought to be connected to Lake Monte Bello a couple of miles away. Marvel at this natural wonder before returning to your accommodation in Huehuetenango.

Day 7: Transfer to Panajachel

Lake Atitlán, Panajachel.
Marvel at the stunning views of the massive Lake Atitlán from Panajachel

Get an early start this morning for your scenic drive south to Panajachel, the main town on Lake Atitlán.

Day 8: Boat Tour of Lake Atitlán, Return to Antigua

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. 

In the afternoon, you'll transfer from Lake Atitlán back to Antigua.

Day 9: Bike Antigua's Local Villages

Guatemala - Antigua - La Recoleccion
The ruins of La Recoleccion, a former convent

Begin the day with a bicycle ride to explore the nearby villages, ruins, and stunning scenery around Antigua. Enjoy panoramic views in between visits to a macadamia nut farm, coffee plantations, and a famous textiles and handicrafts market in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Pedal back to Antigua and take the rest of the day at a slower pace.

Day 10: Depart

Guatemala - Santa Catalina Arch
Antigua's iconic Santa Catalina Arch

It's time to say adiós to Guatemala! After breakfast, pack your things and head to the airport for your flight home.

Map

Map of Incredible Guatemala: Antigua, Tikal,  Cobán, & Huehuetenango - 10 Days
Map of Incredible Guatemala: Antigua, Tikal, Cobán, & Huehuetenango - 10 Days