Mexico & Guatemala Explorer
|Belize, Guatemala, Mexico
|Playa del Carmen, Mexico
“I’ve travelled to Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu but I have to say that the ruins at Tikal topped them both. We visited at dawn when you could see animals such as coatimundi, agouti and spider monkeys emerging from the jungle. This was pretty magical in itself, but being able to climb on the ruins made me feel like a real explorer. The fact that there were so few other tourists, combined with our fantastic guide who had a wealth of knowledge, really brought the sites to life.” Claire Baxter, Destination Manager North & 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.
Day to Day Itinerary
Day 1: Playa del Carmen
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Hotel Playa del Carmen or similar, 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. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
Day 2-3: Tulum - Caye Caulker
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Anchorage Resort or similar, 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 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.
Day 4-5: San Ignacio
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Hotel Midas or similar, San Ignacio
- You will stop at the Belize Zoo on the way to San Ignacio today.
- The zoo was initially designed as a tool to teach the Belizean people about local animals and the benefits of conservation of their habitats. Though the zoo is quite small, all of the animals here are local, including jaguars, ocelots, toucans, harpy eagles and crocodiles.
- From the zoo you will 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.
Day 6: Tikal
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Accommodation: Jungle Lodge or similar, 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 of a toucan or macaw.
- You will stay overnight in the park, before a dawn tour of the ruins. 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.
Day 7-9: Tikal - Antigua
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Accommodation: Hotel Posada del Hermano Pedro or similar, 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.
- 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)
- Belize City - Belize Zoo
- Tikal - Tour of ruins and national park
- Antigua - Women's cooperative visit
Some meals are included on your trip (except for North America trips - please refer to your day-to-day itinerary). However, sometimes we think you'll benefit from getting out and discovering the local cuisine. So when a meal is not included, it's a great opportunity to try something new. For group trips, ask your leader for tips on where to get the best meal, or you might decide to dine out as a group and experience the fun together.
- Airport departure tax
- Visas where required
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Any optional tours or activities during free time
- Tips and items of a personal nature
- Daily budget
We have chosen some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. For group trips, speak to your leader if you are interested in any of the following:
- Antigua - Chocolate Museum
- Antigua - Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour
- Antigua - Salsa class (per hour)
- Antigua-The Pacaya volcano
- Caye Caulker - Snorkel trip (full day)
- Caye Caulker - Sunset sail
- San Ignacio - Bicycle rental (per hour)
- San Ignacio - Butterfly farm
- San Ignacio - River tubing
What to know
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Please talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region. We're travel experts, not doctors and defer to the medicos when it comes to inoculations.
Visas and Permits
Please ensure that you have all required visas for your trip – this is your responsibility. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
Australians, Americans, British, Canadian and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Belize. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. A migration fee of USD20 is payable at the border on departure from Belize. Please ensure you check the validity dates on your passport stamp at the border.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Guatemala. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Mexico. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on a Peregrine trip. Insurance can be organised by your Peregrine representative or your travel agent.
Our Responsible Travel ethos is at the heart of everything we do, from getting the basics right like respecting local cultures and the environment, to initiating projects that make positive contributions to communities, to our staff’s fundraising efforts and offsetting our carbon emissions.
Customs and Culture
Please visit our Responsible Travel (http://www.peregrineadventures.com/rt) page for more information.
Our Pre Departure Information or Travel Dossier (provided upon booking a trip) provides tips on how you can show respect for the local customs and culture in the country you are travelling in. Your leader will also help steer you though the complexities of local cultural norms.
Pre Departure Information
The information listed above is a brief description of some things you may need to consider when booking a trip. Once a tour is booked you will be provided with a link to your Travel Dossier which will contain detailed Pre Departure information.
Belize in Focus - Ian Peedle
Adventures in Nature Belize - R. Mahler
Explore Belize - Harry Pariser
Hidden Belize - Stacy Ritz
Among the Volcanoes - O.Castaneda Culture & Customs of Guatemala - M. Shea Guatemalan Journey - Stephen Benz Bird of Life, Bird of Death - Jonathon Evan Maslow An Indian Woman in Guatemala - Rigoberta Menchu
Mexico Handbook - J. Cummings Under the Volcanoe - M. Lowry A New Time for Mexico - C. Fuentes Lawless Roads - Graham Greene Sacred Monkey River - Christopher Shaw Many Mexicos - Lesley Byrd Simpson Distant Neighbors - Alan Riding The Power & the Glory - Graham Greene
Important - A Word on Central America
Central America is different and that’s what makes it such an fascinating destination. You will find that things don’t always go according to plan or work the way they do back home. Buses and planes often run late and sometimes the water in your bathroom can run cold and the electricity fail. The locals live with these issues everyday. In order to get the most out of your holiday, a degree of patience, good humour and understanding is a definite advantage. If you approach your holiday with an open and enquiring mind, the warm welcome you receive from Central Americans will ensure you a rich and rewarding holiday experience.
Public Holiday Inconveniences
Please be prepared for the inconvenience of sights such as museums and churches being closed to tourists on public holidays (ie. Christmas Day and New Years Day). Throughout Latin America, most museums also tend to be closed on Mondays.
Where possible transportation provided will be air-conditioned, however it will not always be available, particularly in Guatemala.
Please note that hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Peregrine monitors such situations should they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurences.
Emergency Contact Information
Office:+52 55 56355845
24 Hour Emergency:
Mexico City: 04455 54511443 or 04455 19281743
Outside Mexico city: 04555 54511443 or 04555 19281743
Abroad: +52 1 55 54511443 or +52 1 55 19281743
About this Information
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
9 April 2014
General Contact Details
Web: Visit Peregrine