Trip Details at-a-Glance
|Arrive:||Pook's Hill, Belize|
|Lodging:||2 nights lodge|
|Meals:||All meals included except dinners|
|Activity:||Archaeology, Wildlife & Natural History|
Rainforest hikes, nature walks
Visa RequirementsA visa is not required for U.S. citizens visiting Guatemala.
Our Trips using this Extension
Belize: Reefs, Ruins, and Rainforests
Choosing the Right Trip
We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.
Discover the wonder of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, the soaring temple-city of Tikal, a majestic site surrouded by a jungle full of scampering monkeys and colorful tropical birds. En route to Tikal, enjoy a visit to the mysterious and lesser-known Maya site of Yaxha, set on a beautiful lagoon. Accommodations are at delightful La Lancha, a stylish ecolodge set on a lake.
Day 1 (February departure)
Pook’s Hill / Tikal
After a morning birding walk at Pook’s Hill, we depart the Maya Mountains and head to the border, venturing deep into the Petén rainforest of Guatemala to explore the seldom-visited Maya ruins of Yaxha with a guide. Set on the northern shores of a lagoon, this Mesoamerican archaeological site was discovered in 1904 and is spread across nine plazas. This once great ceremonial city was occupied between 600 BC and 900 AD. Shrouded by rainforest, it hints at what Tikal may have looked like prior to its restoration. (Yaxha may look somewhat familiar—it was the setting for season 11 of the TV reality series, Survivor.) We continue to La Lancha, a stylish ecolodge developed by Francis Ford Coppola that overlooks Lake Peten Itza...BL
Note: On the December departure, trip members will return from Turneffe Island and be transferred to the airport for the flight to Flores. Your driver/guide will meet you upon arrival at the airport in Flores.
We wake early for our full day tour of Tikal, the most magnificent Mayan ruin in all Central America. Tikal is one of the most extraordinary archaeological sites in the world, a vast lost city dominated by five steep-sided stone pyramids that rear 20 stories out of the dense Petén rainforest. Around these massive buildings are literally thousands of other structures—the remains of temples, royal palaces, residences, and administrative buildings. The most famous is Temple I, known as the Temple of the Grand Jaguar. It is the tomb of Hasaw Chan K’awil, the powerful divine ruler of Tikal from 682 to 723 AD. Temple IV, the tallest pyramid at Tikal (230 feet) and also the largest of the Maya world, marks the reign of Hasaw Chan K’awil's son. Scholars have still not discovered the mystery that caused the eventual abandonment of this city around 900 AD.
In this great Mayan capital, with its dawn and dusk serenade of troops of howler monkeys and the calls of birds, we walk the steep central stairways of the pyramids, explore the ball courts and great plazas, and marvel at the sheer scale of the setting. Tikal today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and protected within Parque Nacional Tikal, which is set on the edge of the huge Maya Biosphere Reserve. We enjoy a picnic lunch near the ruins, and at the end of the day we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight...BL
Transfer to the airport in Flores and board departing flights, either through Guatemala City or Belize City, depending on your post-trip plans...B
What the Trip is Like
This trip is Level 2+, easy to moderate, according to our trip grading system. There are moderate walks of two to three hours around the ruin sites.
Prices are for 2014
$695 per person, double occupancy
more on pricing
Extension Cost Includes:
- Accommodations as noted
- Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Services of local guides
- Land transporation and activities as indicated
Extension Cost Does Not Include:Airfare, meals not specified (BLD), soft drinks or alcoholic beverages, airport departure tax, items of personal nature such as laundry, telephone, optional gratuities to lodge staff, transfer agents, drivers, and guides, additional hotel nights or extra costs that may be necessitated by airline schedule changes.
Lake Peten Itza, Guatemala
Developed by the filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, La Lancha is a romantic hideaway perched on a hill under a canopy of trees overlooking Lake Peten Itza, about 45 minutes from Tikal. The main lodge, with its soaring thatched roof and splendid views, houses the restaurant where you can enjoy your meals surrounded by a myriad of birdlife including parrots, toucans, and the rare motmot. From the main lodge, winding paths lead down the slopes to the split-level pool and 10 guest casitas, each furnished with beautiful Guatemalan furniture and fabrics. A caveat: as an ecolodge, La Lancha has no air conditioning, TV, or in-room phones (talk about getting away from it all!), but it is a secluded, peaceful retreat that’s an excellent base for exploring the wonders of the ancient Maya.
Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.