9 days

Belize & Guatemala Explorer

Belize & Guatemala Explorer

Flores on Lago Petén Itzá

1200-year-old cliff-top ruins of Tulum

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Antigua Guatemala

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mayan city of Tikal

The palm-fringed island of Caye Caulker

Trip rating
  • Discover ritzy Cancun and the sun-drenched beaches of the Caribbean before continuing via the stunning seaside ruins of Tulum to Tikal, deep in the Guatemalan jungle. The final part of this 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.


    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. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
    Aqualuna Hotel or similar

    Day 2-3 - Tulum - Caye Caulker

    • You will travel by minibus 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 cross the border into Belize. Continue to Belize City, where you'll catch a water taxi to Caye Caulker.
    • Just a short boat ride from the coast are 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 cayes 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 - San Ignacio

    • Today you head 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.
    • This afternoon we will visit 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 tour is the hand-cranked ferry ride across the river.

    Day 5 - 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 an early morning 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 6 - Flores

    • Following your early morning tour of the Tikal ruins, we have a short drive to Flores, where we spend the afternoon.
    • Take time to stroll through the cobblestone streets past pastel-coloured buildings, buy local handicrafts or take a dip in Lake Peten Itza.

    Day 7-9 - Antigua

    • This morning, we drive to the nearby airport and fly to Guatemala City, from where we transfer to Antigua.
    • 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.
    Posada San Vicente or similar
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Local tour leader
    • Local guides
    • Arrival transfer
    • Accommodation: Hotel (8 nts)
    • Meals: 8 Breakfasts
    • Tulum - Ruins
    • Caye Caulker - Snorkel trip (half day)
    • Tikal - Tour of ruins and national park
    • Antigua - Women's cooperative visit
    • Tips for services you receive as part of your trip including drivers, specialist local guides, restaurant staff for included meals, porters, bellboys and other hotel staff (excluding your tour leader)

    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 for your tour leader
    • 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.

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Trip at a glance

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

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