Enquire About This Tour Code QYC Quetzal Highway
Duration: 10 Days Route: Antigua to Cancún Style: Adventure Tours Price: US$1,209.00
A short but sweet adventure taking in the highlights of Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. Enjoy wildlife spotting in the jungle surrounding the Mayan temple complex of Tikal. Get off the beaten track down Rio Dulce to explore the traditional fishing village of Livingston, then head for picturesque Flores in the centre of Lake Peten Itzá. Adventure options await in San Ignacio, then relax the island way on Caye Caulker before heading north for Cancún, the Mayan Riviera.
The tour that we operate in the reverse direction is Quetzal Highway (QYA).
Day 1 to 1 - Arrive Antigua
The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre tour accommodation. On arrival please ask at the reception for information on when the pre departure meeting will be held.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua is one of the most delightful colonial towns in Central America. To fully explore this beautiful town, we recommend booking pre-tour accommodation before the start of your tour.
The local indigenous can be seen throughout the cobbled streets and plazas of the city in their colourful costumes, selling their crafts and textiles. As the cultural centre of Guatemala, Antigua is an ideal place to experience the traditional music, architecture and art of the country. Rich in ornate churches, convents, parks, plazas, cafés, restaurants, bars and colourful street markets and surrounded by awe-inspiring volcanoes, Antigua is one place you will never forget.
Day 2 to 2 - Rio Dulce
We depart Antigua by mini van to the river town of Rio Dulce where we overnight in cabins right on the water. In the afternoon the boat tour along the 23 kilometre stretch of waterway to Livingston allows you to experience one of the most scenic areas of Guatemala. Livingston is situated at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, where it joins the Bay of Amatique, and is inhabited by the Garifuna people. This lively little town has a Caribbean atmosphere different to the rest of Guatemala and is a great place to try the delicious local specialty tapado (seafood coconut soup) and listen to the local African-style punta music.
Day 3 to 3 - Flores
From Rio Dulce we continue to the charming island-town of Flores, the last town to be conquered by the Spanish and situated in the centre of Lake Peten Itzá. Flores is our base for exploring the breathtaking Maya site of Tikal which is regarded as the greatest city of the Maya world and is nestled deep in the jungle. This complex is one of the biggest Maya sites discovered, and you will have most of the day to explore and learn about the flora, fauna, and amazing Mayan history with our knowledgeable local guide.
The area around Tikal has been declared as the Tikal National Park and the preserved area covers 570 square kilometres. The ancient city has been completely mapped and at its height covered an area greater than 16 square kilometres, with more than 3000 structures. Today the main centre covers an area of approximately two and a half square kilometres. As you wander the site, you will see several tall mounds which are temples that have not yet been excavated, and you will have the opportunity to climb some of the tallest Mayan temples.
The emphasis was on height when creating these imposing structures because the Maya believed the higher the building, the closer they were to the gods. Around Tikal there is a lot of animal life, and if you're lucky, you will have the chance to spot the noisy howler monkeys, pizotes (a racoon-like animal), exotic birds such as toucans, and much more!
Day 4 to 5 - San Ignacio
A short drive takes us to the Belize border and one of the smallest and most diverse countries in Central America. Formally known as British Honduras, the official language is still English, but most people also speak Spanish. Our first stop is San Ignacio referred to as "Cayo" by the locals, this agricultural centre is also known to be the 'adventure' and 'nature' capital of Belize. The surrounding jungle, wildlife, waterfalls, rivers and caves, have created the ideal location for the numerous optional excursions that are available, from canoeing downriver and tubing through caves, to visiting the famous caves Actun Tunichil Muknal, where they found untouched Mayan ceremonial and sacrificial remains.
Day 6 to 7 - Caye Caulker
Leaving San Ignacio, we take a local bus through the centre of Belize to Belize City, where we catch a water taxi out to the Cayes (mangrove islands). Belizeans know how to relax, and hopefully the locals' expertise on relaxation will be contagious during your stay on Caye Caulker. If not, there are signs to remind you to "Go Slow", "Take it easy", and even "No shirt, no shoes, no problem". We spend a couple of very laid back nights on Caye Caulker, where you can throw away your shoes to wander the sand filled streets, spend the evenings eating seafood, drinking cocktails, and listening to reggae music in one of the bars.
During the day we can organise a range of different optional snorkelling trips for you, such as to Shark and Ray Alley, where you can swim within a few feet of nurse sharks and majestic sting rays, or weather dependent, you may have the opportunity to swim with sea-cows! Another optional snorkelling tour takes you out to Hol-Chan Marine Reserve where you are guaranteed to see lots of colourful fish and interesting reef formations. Qualified divers can explore the so-called bottomless "Blue Hole", made famous by the explorer Jacques Cousteau (please note: this optional excursion does not go every day, check locally for availability). Other options include sunning yourself, riding a bike around the island, or trying your luck at fishing. If you are lucky, you can take your catch to one of the local restaurants so they can BBQ it for you.
Day 8 to 9 - Playa del Carmen & Cancún
Crossing into Mexico we travel up the coast to the beautiful beach resort of Playa del Carmen. Relax on a white sand beach or take advantage of one of the several interesting optional activities available in the area such as visiting the island of Cozumel or the amazingly located Maya/Toltec ruins of Tulúm. There are also many 'cenotes' in the area. Cenotes (se-note-tays) are fresh water swimming holes connected to underground limestone cave systems once sacred to the ancient Maya.
From Playa del Carmen it's only a one hour bus journey to Cancún.
Day 10 to 10 - Depart Cancún
Until 1970 Isla Cancún (Cancún Island) had only three residents, the caretakers of the coconut plantation with only 117 people living in nearby Puerto Juarez, a fishing village and military base. The island was home to some of the Caribbean's most beautiful beaches and with the advent of mass market tourism it was an ideal location. Due to the reluctance of investors to bet on an unknown area however, the Mexican government had to finance the first nine hotels.
Today over two million visitors a year, come to Cancún to relax on one of the beautiful beaches in what is now known as the 'hotel zone' and to swim in the crystal clear turquoise waters. If the activity of Cancún becomes too much for you, you can always take a ferry out to the more relaxed Isla Mujeres or arrange a snorkelling or diving excursion.
Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.
This itinerary is a guide. Changes may be made before or during your tour to improve the running or due to unforseen circumstances.
Day by Day Itinerary
|Day 2||Rio Dulce||✓|
|Day 4||San Ignacio||Belize||✓|
|Day 5||San Ignacio||✓|
|Day 6||Caye Caulker||✓|
|Day 7||Caye Caulker||✓|
|Day 8||Playa del Carmen||Mexico||✓|
(B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner included)
Please note the day to day itinerary above is given as a GUIDELINE ONLY.
For tours that include the option of a single supplement, a ✔ will indicate in which destinations single rooms are available.