Arrive in Guatemala City and meet your driver for a transfer to your centrally located hotel. After checking in, take time on your own to visit the historic Catedral Metropolitana or the eclectic Casa Mima museum. Later explore the lively Zona Viva district, known for its trendy restaurants, world-class shopping, cosmopolitan atmosphere and thriving nightlife. Dinner on your own this evening.
(Accommodations, Guatemala City)
After breakfast, a morning departure from your hotel for a 2½ hour drive to Chichicastenango. It's home to one of the largest open-air markets in Central America (held every Thursday and Sunday), where you will see a stunning array of handicrafts, including textiles, wood carvings, ceramics, and colorful woolen blankets. Within the market is the historic Church of Santo Tomás, built over 400 years ago on a Mayan temple site. The church represents the characteristic blending of the Christian and Mayan religions. The afternoon is free for independent sightseeing or shopping. Overnight at the charming Mayan Inn in Chichicastenango.
(Breakfast, Guatemala City; Accommodations, Chichicastenango)
After breakfast, depart for the village of Sololá, which hosts an important regional market operating on Tuesdays and Fridays. Here you will be able to see the distinctive costumes from the nearby villages. You'll find that one can buy just about everything from music, machetes, beads, cloth, embroidered blouses, to fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Continue to the lakeside town of Panajachel on Lake Atitlan, the busiest lakeside settlement, with lake views and many shops. This scenic lake covers 50 square miles and is surrounded by three volcanoes, which explains why "Pana" attracts so many visitors. Overnight at Hotel Atitlan, one of Guatemala's most charming boutique properties, surrounded by botanical gardens. Dinner on your own this evening, and guests can choose either the indoor dining room or outside on the poolside terrace - both settings offering uninterrupted lake and volcano views.
(Breakfast, Chichicastenango; Accommodations, Lake Atitlan)
After breakfast, drive from Lake Atitlan and join the launch excursion to the lakeside village of Santiago Atitlan. Lying on an inlet between the volcanoes of Tolimán and San Pedro, Santiago Atitlán is the largest of the lake communities with a strong indigenous identity. Many Atitecos (as its people are known) proudly adhere to a traditional Tz'utujil Maya lifestyle. Women wear purple-striped skirts and huipiles, embroidered with colorful birds and flowers, while older men still wear lavender or maroon striped embroidered pants. You'll find a large arts-and-crafts scene here, and will quickly notice that boatbuilding is a local industry, with rows of rough-hewn cayucos (dugout canoes) lined up along the shore. Continue to the beautiful colonial town of Antigua for your overnight stay.
(Breakfast, Lake Atitlan; Accommodations, Antigua)
After breakfast, enjoy a tour of this historic town, once the cultural center for all of Central America. You will see Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala's first permanent capital, destroyed in 1541 by earthquakes and a flood. Visit the city's famous churches, monasteries, museums and colonial buildings, all of which have contributed to the city being named Monument of the Americas in 1965. Among the most celebrated sites are La Merced Church, Las Capuchinas and the Santa Clara Convent. After your lunch, continue to Guatemala City for your overnight stay. Dinner on your own.
(Breakfast & Lunch, Antigua; Accommodations, Guatemala City)
Following breakfast, a morning transfer to Guatemala City Airport before boarding a flight to Flores. A representative will be awaiting to take you to the archaeological site of Ceibal upon arrival. Declared a cultural monument in 1995, Ceibal is the largest archaeological site in the southwestern Maya Lowlands. You'll discover three groups of monumental structures that include plazas, pyramids, carved stone monuments, elite residences, and a ball court. The carved decoration at Ceibal is considered among the most beautiful in the Maya kingdom, and includes a hieroglyphic stairway, stelae (carved upright stone slabs), and altars. After completing this tour and having lunch, you'll continue on to your hotel in the Tikal area. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest archaeological areas and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, and remains one of the most popular attractions in Guatemala.
(Breakfast, Guatemala City; Lunch & Accommodations, Tikal)
An early morning departure for a full-day tour of the Tikal Ruins, as there is so much to discover. The Twin-Pyramid Complexes Q and R, and the Lost World Complex where the Great Pyramid and Temple 5C-49 are arguably the most important. You'll also view Temple III, the Palace of the Windows, the Great Plaza squared off with the pyramids of the Grand Jaguar and the Masks, the Palace of the Nobles, and Pyramid IV - one of the highest of the Mayan pyramids. From its top, you'll enjoy a complete view of Tikal and its surrounding jungle. Besides the lush vegetation, don't be surprised to see monkeys, foxes, agoutis, and colorful birds. You'll have a full day of touring with a stop for lunch. Later in the day, transfer to Flores airport for a flight to Guatemala City, where you'll spend the last night of your trip.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Tikal; Accommodations, Guatemala City)
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home or to your next Avanti location!
(Breakfast, Guatemala City)