SCHEDULE: Tour begins on the first and third Saturdays of each month all year around. Arrive to Guatemala City, Guatemala. Departs 9 days later on Sunday.
DAY 1 SAT. ARRIVAL TO GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala. Meet at Guatemala City International Airport. Transfer to hotel in Guatemala City finest district. Overnight in Guatemala City.
DAY 2 SUN. COPAN, Honduras. Morning transfer to Copan in Honduras. Visit to Copan Archaeological Site. An UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, Copan was the southernmost major center of lowland Maya civilization and is famed for its artistic sculpture. The great Hieroglyphic Stairway was dedicated in 755 and it bears a continuous text of more than 1250 glyph blocks listing dates and names of the city’s Classic Period rulers. Because of its beautiful artwork, unsurpassed in any other Maya city, Copan occupies a special place in the study of the ancient Maya. Visit Copan’s Museum of Maya Sculpture which contains some of the finest examples of Maya sculpture ever found. Dominating the center of the museum is a full-scale brightly coloured replica of the Rosalila Temple which was completed in 571. The ball courts are the playing grounds of an extremely serious sport to the Mayans. These games are believed to have had religious significance: the captain of one team was sacrificed to the gods. Overnight in Copan Town. (B.L.)
DAY 3 MON. QUIRIGUA, Guatemala. Transfer to Guatemala’s Caribbean coastal plains, visiting Quirigua en route. Also an UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Site since 1981. This strategically located river city of the Classic Period controlled the important Motagua Valley trade route linking the Caribbean coast with interior settlements. Remarkably preserved portraits and texts on sandstone stele chronicle a ruling dynasty in competition with nearby Copan. In 738 the ruler Kak Tiliw captured and beheaded Copan’s 13th lord, 18 Rabbit. Quirigua is home to the largest stele in the Maya World at 26 feet and 6 inches in height and weighting about 65 tons. Overnight in Flores. (B.L.)
DAY 4 TUE. TIKAL, Guatemala. The third UNESCO’s World Heritage Site of the itinerary and the first one in the Maya World, since 1979. Intensive construction took place at Tikal from the late Pre-classic Period until the waning of Classic Maya civilization around AD 900. At its peak the city covered about 48 square miles and had a population estimated at 55,000. Tikal’s Stelae 29 bears the earliest Long Count date known in the Maya lowlands. In 292 AD Temple IV, one of the many pyramids erected to memorialize the dead rulers of Tikal’s royal dynasty, and one of the tallest of Maya structures at 212 feet, was erected. Overnight Flores. (B.L.)
DAY 5 WED. YAXHA, Guatemala. Yaxha Archaeological Site, the only Maya Classic Site whose name is the same as its emblem glyph, well known for having large concentration of massive buildings and with defined avenues and causeways. It was always an allied of Tikal. Its location, on the shore of a lake and within the Maya Biosphere Reserve, makes it unique. Afternoon transfer to Flores Airport for flight to Guatemala City. Meet at airport and transfer to hotel. Overnight in Guatemala City. (B.L.)
DAY 6 THU. CHICHICASTENANGO, Guatemala. Depart early to Chichicastenango that is by far the largest and most colorful handicrafts market in The Americas. Every Thursday and Sunday, Maya people from all over Guatemala, meet to sell their products and visit the town’s Catholic Church, Santo Tomas, to pray in their own way becoming the best example of syncretism of the Maya and Catholic traditions. Overnight in Panajachel by Lake Atitlan. (B.L.)
DAY 7 FRI. LAKE ATITLAN, Guatemala. An interesting geological formation, Atitlan is a lake of volcanic origin, located at 5,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by 3 imposing volcanoes and in the heart of the Living Maya culture. Boat tour to visit Santiago Atitlan, a town famous for naïf paintings and wood carvings. Afternoon transfer to Antigua for overnight. (B.L.)
DAY 8 SAT. ANTIGUA, Guatemala. Antigua is an UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the incredibly preserved Spanish Colonial heritage. Founded in 1542, it was for over 200 years the Capital of Central America. Morning visit to its most important palaces, plazas, churches and convents. Free afternoon. Overnight in Antigua. (B.L.)
DAY 9 SUN. DEPARTURE FROM GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala. Transfer to Guatemala City International Airport.
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