9 days

Mexico & Guatemala Explorer

Mexico & Guatemala Explorer

The palm-fringed island of Caye Caulker

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mayan city of Tikal

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Antigua Guatemala

1200-year-old cliff-top ruins of Tulum

Flores on Lago Petén Itzá

Trip rating
  • Having discovered ritzy Cancun and the sun-drenched beaches of the Caribbean we continue via the stunning seaside ruins of Tulum to Tikal, deep in the Guatemalan jungle. The final part of our journey takes us to Antigua and the beautiful Guatemalan Highland towns of Panajachel and Chichicastenango – home to one of the most colourful weekend markets in Central America.

    Why we love it

    • Having discovered ritzy Playa del Carmen and the sun-drenched beaches of the Caribbean we continue via the stunning seaside ruins of Tulum to Tikal, deep in the Guatemalan jungle.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Playa del Carmen

    • Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. The day will be free until a welcome meeting at around 6pm. Check with the hotel reception for details. There is often a dinner arranged for those interested after the orientation.
    • With azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but without the party atmosphere. Spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
    • In order to make the most of what Playa has to offer, we strongly recommend that you extend your stay in Playa del Carmen for one or two extra days. Please contact us if you need us to assist you with additional accommodation. If you can afford a few extra days in Playa, you may want to spend time snorkelling among the mangroves or strolling along the white sands.
    Hotel Playa del Carmen or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 2-3 - Tulum - Caye Caulker

    • You will venture to the cliff-top ruins of Tulum today. From the crumbling walls of the city ruins, you will enjoy breathtaking views across the coastline of the Caribbean below.
    • Dating back to to the year 1200, these ruins are quite young by Mayan standards.
    • The largest of the temples here is Castillo. Once coated in stucco, painted and decorated with masks, this temple has also served as a fortress.
    • Temple of the Winds is perched over the water, and is reputed to whistle when a hurricane approaches as a warning.
    • From here you will get back on the minibus and travel to Chetumal, where you'll catch a water taxi to the island of Caye Caulker.
    • Just a short boat ride from the coast is the island group of the Belize Cayes.
    • You will be based at one of the more popular of the many islands here, Caye Caulker. From here you can arrange day trips to other Caye if you are in search of the best reefs for diving. You will notice that each of the islands has its own character, but there is an unmistakable Caribbean charm about all of them. You may also choose to take a local boat out to the reef of Caulker itself.
    • There is a half-day of snorkelling on the reef included in your trip, where you will most likely see sharks, rays, fish and coral. You can upgrade this to a full-day snorkelling package at an additional cost if you wish - where you might also see turtles and manatees.
    • Spend the afternoon sipping cocktails overlooking the water, swimming off the Split, or perhaps shopping for local souvenirs.
    Anchorage Resort or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4-5 - San Ignacio

    • Today you head on to San Ignacio (approx. 3 hours). It is situated in the highlands, and is surrounded by forest, waterfalls, rivers, and Mayan ruins, a beautiful place in its own right, and a great base for uncovering the beauty and history of the area.
    • You will have a free day here, with some optional activities available for those who are interested. You may like to go on a day trip the impressive Mayan ceremonial centre, Xunantunich, where you can enjoy expansive views across the surrounding countryside. There is also a unique stucco frieze on the east side of the temple. Part of the joy of this optional trip is the hand-cranked ferry ride across the river.
    • You might prefer to spend a day exploring the Mountain Pine Ridge area - a region blessed with beautiful waterfalls, a remarkable cave system, and swimming holes. Actun Tunichil Muknal is possibly the most intriguing of the caves in the area, it is essentially a living museum. You can wade into the cave through water to discover fascinating relics, including crystallised skeletons and ceramic pots preserved naturally by the cave for over 1400 years.
    • If you fancy a more adventurous day, canoeing or tubing through the jungle can also be arranged. Those seeking a more peaceful and relaxing experience might enjoy San Ignacio's butterfly garden.
    Hotel Midas or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Tikal

    • You will continue by minibus to Tikal today.
    • Home to some of the most magnificent Mayan ruins, the Tikal National Park is awash with wonder. The five granite temples of Tikal tower above the impressive jungle canopy, while a veritable feast of smaller structures remain hidden among the jungle growth. There are over 3000 structures in total, which once housed over 100,000 people. You will be taken to see the highlights of the area.
    • For those who are interested, climbing to the top of the ruins will provide you with unsurpassed views over the jungle, you may even glimpse a toucan or macaw.
    • You will stay overnight in the park. Our accommodation is in a jungle eco-lodge. While facilities at the lodge are a little more basic, it is a great experience staying in the jungle, and hearing jungle sounds as you fall asleep. Electricity at the lodge is limited and is turned off at around 9-10pm each day.
    Jungle Lodge or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7-9 - Tikal - Antigua

    • You will continue on to the central mountains and Antigua Guatemala today. A beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage site, Antigua is home to a plethora of Spanish Baroque architecture and ruined churches. Once the capital of Spanish Guatemala, today Antigua is a town of over 30,000 people nestled between three towering volcanoes. The capital was moved to Guatemala City after the earthquakes of 1773.
    • It is a very popular stop for travellers because of its historical relics, as well as the pleasant ambiance and vibrancy of the local people. There are a number of interesting markets, restaurants and cafes; be sure to try the famous Guatemalan coffee! It is also a place renowned for its many Spanish language schools. There is no shortage of things to do and places to discover during your time here.
    • You will visit a women's cooperative while you are in town. Founded in 1992, the cooperative is an independent, grassroots organisation designed to assist community development, health, education, clean water and income generation. Skills like cooking, weaving and textiles are employed by the women here to demonstrate traditional crafts.
    • Your trip will come to an end on Day 9 after breakfast.
    Hotel Posada del Hermano Pedro or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Local tour leader
    • Local guides
    • Arrival transfer
    • Accommodation: Hotel (8 nts)
    • Transport: Minibus, Boat, Plane
    • Meals: 8 Breakfasts
    • Tulum - Ruins
    • Caye Caulker - Snorkel trip (half day)
    • Tikal - Tour of ruins and national park

    Not Included

    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips and items of a personal nature

    Safety Information

    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

  • Map Itinerary

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSMG
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
End City: Antigua

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