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14-day Guatemala, Belize, Honduras & El Salvador

VIVA CENTROAMERICA

Included services:

  • 13 overnights in good country-typical 3* hotels or good standard 4* or 5* hotels
  • 13 breakfasts
  • all ground and boat transportation and entrance fees as indicated in tour itinerary
  • local English-speaking guide for half-day walking tour in Antigua and archeological tour in Tikal
  • hotel taxes and VAT 

Not included: Other meals, drinks, tips, additional transfers or extra guided tours, border fees, departure tax.

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT AIRFARES AND ENTRANCE FEES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE ANYTIME WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE. TRANSPORTATION BASED ON PRIVATE AND SEAT-IN TRANSFERS.

 

Program Itinerary:

 

Day 1 (Friday):

Reception at airport and transfer to hotel in Antigua. Depending on your arrival time, you can still enjoy a relaxed evening walk through the cobble stone streets of this colonial town. Overnight in colonial-style hotel.

 

Day 2 (Saturday):

Walking tour La Antigua Guatemala – La Merced church, Santa Catalina arch, Central Plaza with cathedral and Palacio de Capitanes, San Francisco church with the shrine of Guatemala´s only saint – Hermano Pedro, Old University San Carlos or Museum Santiago. Antigua Guatemala served as capital of all Central America from 1543 until 1773, when destroyed by an earthquake and the capital subsequently moved to its present location. The city was original known as La Muy Noble y La Muy Leal Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros, it is located just 45 km from Guatemala City, its splendid beauty consists in its colonial architecture, its houses painted in Mediterranean colors, and its ruins and numerous churches. Antigua has been declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

 

FREE AFTERNOON. Options include: a) hike to Pacaya volcano; b) visit to coffee plantation; c) visit to Macadamia Nut Farm; d) visit to a Women’s Weaving Cooperative in San Antonio Aguascalientes; e) visit to Don Filiberto, a farmer in San Miguel Escobar; f) Tour de Pueblos visiting surrounding villages. PLEASE MAKE RESERVATIONS FOR OPTIONAL TOURS IN ADVANCE. Overnight.

 

Day 3 (Sunday):

Transfer from Antigua to Chichi. Visit the indigenous market, observe Mayan rituals in Santo Tomás church, and alternatively hike to nearby ceremonial site Pascual Abaj. The colorful town of Chichicastenango located 20 miles north of this volcanic lake, hosts every Thursday and Sunday one of the biggest indigenous markets in Guatemala, attracting traders from the highlands offering beautiful traditional textiles & handicrafts. Chichi offers lots of shamanistic overtones with numerous religious brotherhoods & a mystic-spiritual combination of Mayan pagan rites and traditional Catholic devotion. Then continue to Panajachel. Free time for shopping. Overnight.

 

Day 4 (Monday):

Boat tour of stunning Lake Atitlán - visiting San Pedro La Laguna, Santiago Atitlán with its great art galleries and the Maximón sanctuary, and San Antonio Palopó, offering a great selection of hand woven products and colorful ceramics. A natural treasure is the sapphire-blue Lake Atitlán, surrounded by 3 dormant volcanoes in the Western Highlands. Located around the lake’s shore are 14 picturesque indigenous villages which are home to Kakchiquel and Tzutuhil families and where Mayan dialects are first language. Return to Pana and transfer back to Antigua. Overnight.

 

Day 5 (Tuesday):

Early transfer to airport in Guatemala City and flight to Flores. You will be met by our representative and brought to Tikal National Park. Start guided tour of Tikal archeological site with bilingual local guide, visiting Complex Q, Main Plaza, North and Central Acropolis, Complex Lost World, Temple IV. Lunch (included). Once the ceremonial center of the ancient Maya, the ruins at Tikal were rediscovered in 1955 and comprise the largest collection of Mayan ruins ever excavated. Now, a National Park covering 358 square miles of prime rainforest, Tikal is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including spider and howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars, and almost 250 bird species. UNESCO declared Tikal a World Heritage site in 1979 due to its exceptional natural and cultural value. Return to Flores and flight with to Belize City. Overnight.

 

Day 6 (Wednesday):

Historic City Tour Belize City & Belize Zoo & Bamboon Sanctuary (lunch included). Belize City today remains the commercial capital of the country.  In addition to other historic buildings, you will see the Supreme Court buildings, flanked by cannons used in the “Battle of St. George’s Caye” in 1798.

 

The Belize Zoo was founded in 1983 as a retirement home for natural history "movie stars." It has since become a refuge and rehabilitation center for injured wildlife, as well as a home for abused and abandoned "pets." Because there are healthy populations of certain species of wildlife in Belize, it is easy (though also illegal) for people to acquire birds and animals which they attempt to domesticate for their own personal pleasure. People are most often unable to tame these animals, or they grow tired of their "pets." The Belize Zoo has played a major role in saving the lives of these animals by providing a new home for these orphans who are most often unable to return to their natural home in the wild. Whenever possible, all wildlife that can be rehabilitated and are considered able to survive in the wild are reintroduced to their natural environment. Those animals that cannot be reintroduced to their environment are maintained in a natural setting at the zoo, where they become an integral part of an ongoing program to educate people about the natural history of Belize.

 

The Community Baboon Sanctuary on the banks of the Belize River is located some thirty miles west of Belize City off the Northern Highway in the Belize District. Consisting of some eighteen square miles of basically subsistence farms, the sanctuary exhibits the spirit of coexistence that Belizeans have with nature. Through a grassroots effort, the villagers and landowners have committed to preserving the habitat necessary to insure a healthy population of Black Howler Monkeys. With assistance from the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee County, a small natural history museum and visitor's center has been erected in Bermudian Landing, which is the most central location in the sanctuary.

 

Overnight.

 

Day 7 (Thursday):

Excursion Manatee Watch & Goff’s Caye. Depart Belize City in a motor boat for a ride out to the nearby Manatee breeding grounds. You are almost certain to see one or more of these docile and protected sea mammals. Goff’s Caye, your final destination, is another seven miles to the East. This small island is perched right on Belize’s Great Barrier Reef, a true tropical paradise. Snorkel off the pristine sandy beach with your instructor for that wonderful “Cousteau Experience”, or swim in cool waters or just relax under the palm trees. A picnic lunch and refreshments are served on the beach. Snorkeling equipment is included. Overnight.

 

Day 8 (Friday):

Excursion Cave Tubing and Jungle Trek. Transfer from Belize City and 37 miles up the Western Highway to the Caves Branch River and its winding path through the Maya Mountains and numerous ancient caves once inhabited by the Maya. On arriving at Jaguar Paw, your headquarters for the day, be prepared for a 45 minute hike down a jungle trail where your guide will point out various plants, roots and herbs once used by the ancient Maya for medicinal purposes. The entrance tunnel that heads into the underground cave system is the start of an “eye opening” adventure. Your guide hands out flashlights, and you are ready to float in inflated inner tubes with gentle currents taking you through the cave system. Intricate crystalline formations line the cave and the majestic rise and fall of stalagmites and stalactites add to the serene opulence of nature. On several occasion you will emerge into the sunlight only to enter into another cave system. Overnight.

 

Day 9 (Saturday):

Transfer to Goldson International Airport and flight from Belize City to Flores. Transfer to Rio Dulce. Boot transfer from Rio Dulce to Livingston, the Garífuna town located at the mouth of the river. The Garífuna are descendents of African slaves who intermarried with the local Indians. They have their own distinct language, music, art and cuisine. Evening walk in Livingston. Overnight.

 

Day 10 (Sunday):

Boat tour of jungle-bordered Río Dulce visiting Chocón Machacas Nature Reserve, Río Tatín, Hot Springs and Castillo San Felipe. Flowing down to the Caribbean Coast from Lake Izabal (Guatemala’s largest lake) is the 26-mile jungle-bordered Río Dulce.  Along the banks of the river are many natural and historic sites including the Castillo San Felipe, built by the Spanish to protect the coast from pirate attacks, and sulfuric hot springs. Located in the north central part of Rio Dulce’s El Golfete in Izabal is a 17.791 acre protected area created to preserve the manatee (sea cow) the largest mammal in Guatemala. Its habitat is within the connecting lakes of the reserve and the Rio Dulce, and between the Rio Dulce and the Caribbean Sea. Most of the protected area is broken and rugged terrain crossed by the Chocon Machacas and Cienaga rivers. There are also six beautiful lakes and five streams in the reserve. The area has at least 60 species of trees, approximately 180 migrating bird species, of the existing 300, and a large variety of mammals, fish, turtles, toads, frogs and iguanas. Transfer to Copán. Visit Quiriguá archeological site with its famous steles on the way. Quiriguá, a smaller site, about 25 miles from Copán, offers enormous carved rocks & huge steles, amongst them the tallest ones found in the Mayan World. This includes unusually huge stelae elaborately carved from single blocks of stone, the largest being 10 meters (35 feet) tall and weighing some 60,000 kg (65 tons). In addition to the tall vertical stelae, the site has a number of boulders elaborately sculpted into the forms of mythological animals; these sculptures are referred to as Zoomorphs. Overnight.

 

Day 11 (Monday):

Visit Copán archeological site (museum & excavation tunnels not included). The archeological site of Copán, 7 miles from the Guatemalan border, shows the most elaborately decorated monuments & steles of all Mayan cities: The Ball Court is considered the social center of the city and is by far the most artistic ball court in Meso-America. Unique to it are the markers on the side walls, resembling macaw heads. The Great Plaza is famous for its stelae and altars that are scattered around this immense plaza. Many of the altars have a zoomorphic form. The Hieroglyphic Stairway holds the longest known text left to us by the ancient Maya civilization. The old temple, is known today as the “Rosa Lila Temple, or Temple of the Sun” and its discovery has helped archaeologists understand how Copan actually looked in its days of glory. The fine stucco masks of this building retain their original colors, and a replica of this temple is being made at the new museum of sculpture. Copan was declared a heritage of humanity site in 1980 by UNESCO. Afterwards transfer to San Salvador. Overnight.

 

Day 12 (Tuesday

Visit to Joyas de Serén & San Andrés archeological sites. Joya de Cerén ( meaning Jewel of Cerén in the Spanish language) is an archaeological site in El Salvador, a pre-Columbian Maya farming village preserved remarkably intact under layers of volcanic ash. It is one of the most important archeological sites in Mesoamerica because it shows how life was for the normal people. It is often referred to as the "Pompeii of the Americas" in comparison to the famous Ancient Roman ruins. Joya de Cerén was a pre-Hispanic farming community that, like Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, was buried under a volcanic eruption c. A.D. 600. Because of the exceptional condition of the remains, they provide an insight into the daily lives of the Central American populations who worked the land at that time. San Andrés is a pre-Columbian ceremonial center where we will be able to appreciate several semi discovered structures (pyramids), some knolls and the historical museum. From there, we follow the route towards the Colonial City of Santa Ana to visit its historical center, where we will be able to appreciate the Cathedral, Gothic style, constructed at the beginning of the XX century, and the National Palace, constructed at the end of the XIX century, where the Municipal City Hall of Santa Ana is located.

 

Excursion to visit Tazumal archeological site (approx. 45 min. from Santa Ana). Tazumal is considered the most important Pre-Columbian Maya archeological site in Chalchuapa, El Salvador. Tazumal means, "place where the victims were burned," in Quiché. This zone is within the archaeological area of Chalchuapa covering 10 km2, much of it buried under the town, other archaeological sites are: Pampe, Casa Blanca, the Trapiche and the Victories. The artefacts found at Tazumal provide evidence of ancient and active trade between Tazumal and places as far away as Panama and Mexico. One of the most important artifacts uncovered is a life-size statue of Xipe-totec, a Nahua god of fertility and war. The figure is covered in what appears to be scales, but are believed to represent pieces of human skin that were evidently cut from sacrificial victims as a tribute.

 

Visit Casa Blanca archeological site and learn about the process of dyeing fabrics known as indigo; the visitors can participate in the elaboration of some articles. The day ends with an evening tour through the metropolitan City of San Salvador, you will also be able to try local specialty called “pupusas”, filled tortillas. Overnight

 

Day 13 (Wednesday):

Half-day tour to colonial town Suchitoto and Lake Suchitlán. Suchitoto is a municipality in the Cuscatlán department of El Salvador. The colonial town of Suchitoto is widely known throughout El Salvador for its 17th century Church and for its cobblestone roads. It has an excellent view of the Suchitlán lake, which is an artificial lake formed in the Lempa river and the Cerrón Grande dam. It is a very popular weekend destination for Salvadoreans and offers broad cultural activities, such as: gallery arts, cultural centers, handcrafts. Afternoon transfer back to Guatemala City. Overnight.

 

Day 14 (Thursday):

FREE MORNING. Optional: City Tour visiting National Palace, Cathedral, Museums Popol Vuh and Ixchel, and the Relief map of Guatemala, and then it is time to say good-bye. Drop-off at airport.

 

END OF SERVICES

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21-Sep-2017

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Stone Carving Copán