Ancient Lands Of The Maya

Ancient Lands Of The Maya

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15 Days From

$2960

$2879

Ancient Lands Of The Maya

15 Days Starting in Guatemala City and ending in Antigua

Visiting: Guatemala City, Copan Ruinas, Puerto Barrios, Livingston, Tikal, Flores, Cobán, Nebaj, Sololá, Santa Catarina Palopó, Chichicastenango, Antigua Guatemala

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

GM

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 18

Physical rating:

Medium, Full On

Age range:

16-

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans

Tour operated in:
English
From:
$2960
$2879 Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$81

NB: Prices correct on 20-May-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

Guatemala is one of the only remaining places where the living Maya culture can be truly experienced. This trip contrasts old and new, visiting modern indigenous communities thriving in the highlands around Lake Atitlan, as well as the early Maya cities of Tikal, Quirigua and Copan (Honduras). Hitting the highlights as well as getting far off the beaten path, this trip encompasses the beauty and colour of ancient Central America.



Lake Atitlan - Take a boat trip on this stunning lake, encircled by volcanoes, and visit the neighbouring Maya villages

Maya sites - Discover the atmospheric site of Tikal, its spires poking out of deep jungle, and the peaceful site of Copan

Chichicastenango Market - Throw yourself into the bustle and colour of this busy market, and see the modern Maya culture come to life

Festivals - Witness the Holy Week celebrations in Antigua, or the giant kite festival celebrated as part of the Day of the Dead festivities in Sumpango

Highlights

  • Lake Atitlan - Take a boat trip on this stunning lake, encircled by volcanoes, and visit the neighbouring Maya villages

  • Maya sites - Discover the atmospheric site of Tikal, its spires poking out of deep jungle, and the peaceful site of Copan

  • Chichicastenango Market - Throw yourself into the bustle and colour of this busy market, and see the modern Maya culture come to life

  • Festivals - Holy Week celebrations in Antigua, or the giant kite festival celebrated as part of the Day of the Dead festivities in Sumpango

Itinerary

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Day 1: Join Tour In Guatemala City

Location: Guatemala City

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: No Meals

Arrive in Guatemala City, the country's busy capital. Much of the city is quite modern, but the colonial centre around the main square harks back to the time when the city was officially declared Guatemala's new capital in the eighteenth century.



Due to the number of evening flights into the international airport, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Guatemala City at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into La Aurora International Airport (airport code: GUA), approximately a 40 minute drive from our hotel.



If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to visit the bustling Mercado Central or one of the city's many museums.

Day 2: Short City Tour Of Guatemala City, Head To Copan (Honduras)

Location: Copan Ruinas

Accommodation: Hotel

We will start our day with a short orientation tour by bus of Guatemala City before heading to Copan in Honduras. This afternoon, you have free time to visit Macaw Mountain (optional).

Day 3: Explore The Copan Archaeological Site, Optional Macaw Mountain Trip

Location: Copan Ruinas

Accommodation: Hotel

Everyone familiar with Catherwood's incredible drawings (which first appeared in John Stephens' 1841 narrative - 'Incidents of Travel in Central America and Yucatan') will recognise scenes and objects from this marvellous site. Stephens actually bought the entire site for US$ 50 from a local farmer! The Great Plaza is one of the most amazing achievements of the Classic Maya period (AD 750) and contains the greatest collection of Maya sculpture anywhere in Meso-America. The famous Hieroglyphic Stairway is composed of 2500 individual glyphs; its sides are flanked by serpentine birds and snakes. We have the whole day to enjoy this special place, leaving you plenty of time to explore on your own. The afternoon is free to either visit the museum dedicated to the site or visit Macaw Mountain.

Day 4: Drive To Puerto Barrios, Boat To Livingston

Location: Puerto Barrios, Livingston

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we will stop en route at Quirigua, renowned for its fine Mayan carvings, covered with intricate glyphs which still remain a mystery to scholars and archeologists. Quirigua was dominated by Copan but was valued as a trading centre for the jade that can be found throughout the surrounding area. Independence from Copan was finally achieved under Quirigua's most powerful leader, Cauac Sky in 737AD. We will then continue to Puerto Barrios where we will board our launch and cross the bay to the lazy, laidback town of Livingston on the Caribbean coast. Here we can enjoy the colourful, lively Garifuna town, with its unique racial blend. In the evening there may be the chance to hear the increasingly popular local music or enjoy the fresh seafood in one of the many restaurants along the main street.

Day 5: Boat Trip On The Rio Dulce, Continue To Tikal

Location: Tikal

Accommodation: Lodge, Lodge

We start our day by heading west on the Rio Dulce by boat. The river squeezes through an impressive gorge of towering cliffs covered in a mass of jungle creepers with Egrets, pelicans and cormorants lining the shores. En route we will stop at the small community project of Ak Tenamit where you will have the opportunity to learn more about this educational support project that has been set up. From the town of Rio Dulce we will continue by bus to Tikal, possibly the greatest of all the Mayan cities, located in the heart of the Peten jungle. The ruins of Tikal can easily be compared with the masterpieces of Egypt and Greece. Initially settled about 600 BC, Tikal was abandoned by its rulers around AD 890 and totally deserted a hundred years later, overgrown by the jungle. Rediscovered in 1848, they comprise many great temples and pyramids. The city covers an area of more than 16 square kilometres with temples, palaces, causeways, ballcourts, spacious plazas, and hundreds of other architectural ruins - a superb example of sophisticated Mayan engineering.

Day 6: Guided Tour Of Tikal, Travel To Flores

Location: Tikal, Flores

Accommodation: Hotel

We will have an early start to get into the site for a guided tour. The site is so large we leave you free time to explore at your own pace this afternoon. Those with a good head for heights could climb one of the pyramids which pierce the jungle canopy for splendid views over the whole area. In the afternoon we will drive to Santa Elena. This evening we have a chance to wander the streets of Flores Island. Situated on a small island in the tranquil Lake Peten Itza and joined to the mainland by a causeway, Flores remains a quaint and peaceful town.

Day 7: Visit The Candelaria Caves, Continue To Coban

Location: Cobán

Accommodation: Hotel

Leaving Flores behind we head south into the southern mountains for a long day's drive through varied scenery. We drive to Sayaxche where we cross the river by ferry before continuing to the Candelaria Caves. Following our visit to the caves we continue onto Coban, where we will overnight.

Day 8: Visit Biotopo Del Quetzal Reserve, Transfer To Antigua

Location: Nebaj

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we have a very early start to travel the short distance to Biotopo del Quetzal Reserve, as it is the best time to go bird watching. We start the day with a walk in the cloudforest; if we are lucky we may see the elusive quetzal which feeds on the fruit of the aguacatillo tree at dawn. The quetzal was sacred to the ancients of Central America and the plumed serpent god Quetzalcoatl was a supreme deity. Killing a quetzal was punishable by death and the 2ft long iridescent green tail feathers were worth more than gold. Today the resplendent quetzal is the Guatemalan national bird. Following our visit to the Biotope we will continue to Antigua.

Day 9: All Saints Celebration Giant Kite Festival, Drive To Lake Atitlan

Location: Nebaj

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we will drive to Sumpango, just on the hills outside of Antigua to see the All Saints 'Giant Kites' Festival. On November 1st of every year the people of Sumpango, Sacatepequez put together these giant kites to fly during the Day of the Dead. The kites are made of cloth and paper with bamboo frames, they depict religious or folkloric themes and they are flown to honor the dead. The kites traditionally can take up to 40 days to build, they are held together with a glue made with a mixture of yucca flower, lemon peel and water, the ropes are made of the maguey plant (the plant that also brings us tequila!), and the tails are made from woven cloth. This tradition dates back 3000 years and still today is seen as a way of communicating with the beyond. After watching the spectacle we will drive to Santa Catarina, a small village on the shore of Lake Atitlan; there are always magnificent views of the impressive volcanic peaks of Atitlan (3537m), San Pedro (3020m) and Toliman (3158m) towering over the lakeside.

Day 10: In Santa Catarina; Boat Trip To Visit Villages Inhabited By Tzutuhil Indians

Location: Sololá

Accommodation: Hotel

The volcano-ringed Lake Atitlan is a place of stunning beauty. Some 24km long by 16km wide, it lies at an altitude of 1585m. On the first day, we include a boat trip to visit villages inhabited by Tzututils Indians, including Santiago Atitlan. Poignant reminders of the recent history of this village are visible as we visit the church, originally built in 1547, and we may see more traditional Mayan rituals at the shrine to Maximon. The second day is left free visit the popular town of Panajachel, where you can enjoy the comfortable climate, relaxed atmosphere and stunning setting. The lake changes hue at different times of the day and can appear green, deep blue, or grey, while at sunset it glows fiery red.

Day 11: Visit To Chichicastenango Then Drive To Nebaj

Location: Santa Catarina Palopó

Accommodation: Hotel

Early this morning we drive to the famous market town of Chichicastenango, the 'sacred town' of the Indigenous Quiche. The Thursday market is a colourful affair which attracts people from the surrounding countryside to trade their produce and handicrafts. It is also the perfect place to pick up souvenirs of your visit. From here we continue our adventurous journey into the famous Ixil mountains. The drive is spectacular as we wind our way up through valleys and over hills, passing gushing rivers, heading north from Sacapulas. Finally we arrive at Nebaj, part of the lxil triangle. We are staying in simple accommodation this evening, the best choice in this remote area. Rooms are clean and comfortable with ensuite bathrooms.

Day 12: Explore The Nebaj Valley

Location: Chichicastenango

Accommodation: Hotel

The Ixil are famous for their fine weaving (some of the best to be found in Guatemala), especially the geometric designs in purple, green, yellow and red on the huipiles (blouses) worn by the Indian women. We spend the day exploring and plan to follow a trail over and out of the Nebaj Valley to the neighbouring valley . Weather permitting, we will enjoy good views of the mountain range as we walk up over a pass and descend to the village of Acul. We are bound to come across colourfully dressed Ixil using the trails, but there are certainly few other foreigners in this isolated area.

Day 13: Drive To Antigua Via Iximche

Location: Antigua Guatemala

Accommodation: Hotel

We start this morning with a Textile demonstration from some of the local women before driving south. On route we will stop at the Mayan site of Iximche - a small site set in beautiful pine forests. After exploring the site we will then continue to Antigua de Guatemala, set in a beautiful valley between the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango.

Day 14: Tour Of Antigua; Free Afternoon

Location: Antigua Guatemala

Accommodation: Hotel

After an orientation tour this morning you will have free time to explore Antigua further. An orientation tour of this graceful old colonial city shows how it can justly claim to be one of the most charming in Central America despite the damage caused by a series of earthquakes and floods over the ages. The afternoon is free to wander the timeless streets and hunt for souvenirs. One of its lively restaurants makes a perfect setting for our last meal together.

Day 15: Trip Ends In Antigua

Location: Antigua Guatemala

The trip ends this morning at our hotel in Antigua Guatemala.



There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from La Aurora International Airport (airport code: GUA). The drive between the airport and our hotel is only 40km but can take between 1.5 and 4 hours depending on the traffic and the time of day.

What's Included

  • Meals – Breakfast Only

    Breakfast: 14

  • Accommodation

  • Fully Guided

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

What's Not Included

  • Tipping and Gratuities

  • Country Entry Visas

  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day

Why Book this Tour

We have planned the dates of this tour to coincide with the San Tomas Festival in Guatemala. This festival is a mix of Christian and native traditions centred around the famous church in Chichicastenango.

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Check out our Q&As

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    No

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    Moderate

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    Yes

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Trasnfers are included on the first and the last day of the trip

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    Yes

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • What is the standard of the hotels on this tour?

    5 nights comfortable hotel

    6 nights premium hotel

    2 nights simple hotel

    1 nights comfortable lodge

  • What is the maximum group size?

    18

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews from travellers on this tour

Patrick  

Ancient Lands Of The Maya

Our groupt on well together which made life for Ma

Our groupt on well together which made life for Marvin easier and more pleasurable for all of us - no moaners on this trip!

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Oct 20, 2025 - Nov 03, 2025
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Nov 15, 2025 - Nov 29, 2025
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Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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