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Guatemala and Honduras uncovered

Day 1

Arrive in Guatemala City and transfer to hotel in Antigua.

You will be met by our local representative and taken to your hotel in Antigua. It’s a journey of about an hour along a winding paved road.

Day 2

Optional excursion to Pacaya volcano.
Walking Pacaya volcano

The city is a colonial work of art, with cobbled streets, overhanging tiled roofs and a beautiful, leafy central plaza. There’s an abundance of huge ruined churches, convents and monasteries, testimony to a time when Antigua was the country’s capital and its main religious centre. You’ll have plenty of time to absorb this fascinating city, including on a walking tour of the historic centre. It seems that every doorway opens onto a fragrant tiled courtyard. A dramatic backdrop of smouldering volcanoes and ruined churches and convents surrounded by parkland bear witness to the city’s destruction by a volcanic eruption in 1773.

Antigua is a welcoming place to relax and unwind, do some shopping in tempting boutiques and art galleries, and enjoy the excellent food in a large range of restaurants and pavement cafés. Wander around the courtyards and enjoy the floral displays in beautifully tended gardens.

If you fancy something more active we can organise an optional guided 2-3hr ascent of the nearby 2,500m Pacaya volcano. The climb, while strenuous, is not technical and the views from the summit well worth the effort. Pine forest is replaced with scree and ash so you will need to be in reasonably good physical condition. The sulphurous vapour emitted from the cone is sometimes accompanied by small flows of lava: indeed there was an eruption in 2014, but it is still safe to climb. On a clear day it is possible to see all the way to El Salvador.

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Walking Pacaya volcano

Day 3

Fly to Flores, guided tour of the Mayan ruins at Tikal.
Tikal Ruins and forest canopy

By road to Guatemala City and take an hour-long flight to Flores, in the dense, sticky jungles of northern Guatemala, and from here you continue to your lodge.There will be a guided tour of the archaeological site at Tikal. Steep-stepped and vertiginous temples emerge high above the rainforest canopy; the views over the site from one of these ancient skyscrapers are unforgettable.

Spend the day wandering through the palace complexes. Tikal was one of the largest and most important Mayan city states, reaching its peak around AD800 prior to its mysterious demise. The pyramids and temples seem frozen in time, but you’re brought back to the present by the roar of curious howler monkeys and lithe spider monkeys as they swing through the trees; and by flashes of colour as toucans and parrots take flight.

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Tikal Ruins and forest canopy

Day 4

By road to Livingston via San Felipe fortress.

Today you are leaving the tourists at Antigua and Tikal to set off to the less-visited, and culturally very distinct, eastern lowlands of Guatemala. The drive from Tikal to the town of Río Dulce takes 3-4 hrs, then you take a 90min boat trip along the along the Río Dulce to Livingston, through an impressive canyon, passing riverbanks thick with tropical forest harbouring abundant bird life.

Visit the well preserved fortress of Castillo de San Felipe, which was built to protect merchandise from pirates when the river was a Spanish trading route in the early 16th century. It has a splendid waterside location where the Rio Dulce meets the vast, yet geographically remote, Lake Izabál.

Lívingston is positioned at the mouth of the Río Dulce estuary and can only be reached by boat. Coconut groves and brightly coloured wooden buildings typify the laid-back little town which shelters a unique fusion of Guatemalan and Caribbean culture. The majority of the inhabitants are Garífuna, who trace their roots back to the Honduran island of Roatán, and now populate the Caribbean coast of Central America from Belize to Nicaragua.

Day 5

At leisure among the Garifuna on the Caribbean coast.

At leisure among the Garifuna on the Caribbean coast.

Day 6

Drive over the border to Copán in Honduras via Quiriguá ruins.
Ball court at Copan

Depart Livingston by boat passing through the mangroves of Rio Dulce (90mins). Continue overland to the UNESCO cultural heritage site of Quiriguá and take a guided tour of the Mayan site. Its principal features are the enormous stone columns (stelae), exquisitely carved with representations of a dynastic history of the rulers.

It is another 2 hours’ drive to Copán Ruinas over the border in Honduras. The quaint little colonial town of Copán Ruinas is just 12 km from the Guatemalan border. The area's main attraction is the fabulous Mayan ruined site of Copán, just a kilometre away, like Qurirguá renowned for its beautiful sculptured stelae.


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Ball court at Copan

Day 7

Guided tour of the ruined Mayan city Copán.
Copan Ruins

Guided tour of Copán. It is not as immense as Tikal but the Mayans’ craftsmanship has survived the passing of time - most impressively evident in the intricate carvings of the 21 stelae. Copán is believed to have been in its 'golden era' between 553AD and 738AD, before falling into decline soon after. Also visit the Maya Sculpture Museum, which exhibits artwork of the Mayan site. Access is through an impression of a snake's mouth framing the entrance. Its centrepiece though is a replica of Rosalila Temple, which lies concealed under a larger pyramid at the site itself.

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Copan Ruins

Day 8

By road to Pico Bonito via Lancetilla National Park.
Honduras wildlife

Set off by road to Pico Bonito, a first-class lodge set in coastal rainforest. En route, stop off at Lancetilla Botanical Gardens in the eponymous national park. It houses one of the largest collections of plantains in the world (Honduras is the original banana republic) and is well respected for its work in conserving Honduran plant species. There is an abundance of birdlife here since many of the trees are fruit-bearing, providing vital sustenance to over 250 identified species. Continue to Pico Bonito, your base for 3 nights.

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Honduras wildlife

Day 9

Excursion to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve.

Today you’ll have a guided excursion to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Reserve, dedicated to the preservation of the habitat for the endangered manatee, a comical-looking marine mammal also known as the sea cow.  Access is by hand-powered railroad flatcar along the tracks of an old banana train introduced by the Standard Fruit Company. Once within the reserve, there is a boat tour, where you may sight monkeys, seabirds and other fauna. The area is rich in bird life, with 198 different species recorded.

Day 10

Guided excursion to Cayos Cochinos.
Cayos Cochinos ( Hog Cayes)

Visit the unpopulated Cayos Cochinos (Hog Cays) Islands, reached in 45mins by boat from the port of La Ceiba. This exquisite archipelago and marine reserve comprises a collection of forested or palm-speckled coral islets ringed by chalk-white sand beaches and a reef alive with aquatic species. Cruise among the islets, stopping at a Garifuna fishing community and taking a short walk along a forest trail. Plenty of time is available for sunbathing or snorkelling.

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Cayos Cochinos ( Hog Cayes)

Day 11

Transfer to La Ceiba, fly to Roatán island.

Transfer to La Ceiba and fly to Roatán island. Roatán is situated 50km off the coast of Honduras and is the most developed of the Bay Islands. It was once a hideaway for pirates and the infamous captain Henry Morgan made it his lair. Its people are a mix of Afro-Caribbean, European and Garífuna indian descent with English the main language spoken.

Fishing is still its main economic activity although in recent years it has become a top international destination for scuba diving and snorkelling. Sun worshippers can take advantage of some glorious secluded beaches while others can enjoy the eateries and use the facilities of the dive schools which line the powdery white sands of West Bay.

Days 12-13

At leisure on the Caribbean coral island.
Kayaking   Roatan Island

At leisure on the Caribbean island. Your intimate resort hotel is set right on the beach. The small resort caters for divers but there are plenty of things to do for those who are not sub-aqua aficionados. Roatán offers a wide variety of adventures which can be organised from the hotel, from zip-lining to swimming with dolphins and horse riding to sunset sails.Kayaking, fishing, glass-bottomed boat tours, golf : there's something to appeal to everyone, and a spa on the premises if you need to relax after your exertions.

Of course, you might choose just to swing in a hammock, or enjoy a cocktail beside the pool.

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Kayaking   Roatan Island

Day 14

Fly to San Pedro Sula connect with international flight.

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Guatemala and Honduras uncovered

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Guatemala and Honduras uncovered

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Guatemala and Honduras uncovered

14 days from £3,293pp

Price excludes international flights at the beginning and end of the trip


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