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Kinkajou: Best of Guatemala and Belize

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This variety-packed escorted group journey combines two countries which couldn’t be more different. Guatemala is steeped in native Mayan indian and Spanish colonial tradition plus religious mysticism. Belize, a truly Caribbean country, is English speaking, utterly laid-back, and a popular destination for some outdoor adventure. It’s a real treat to be able to combine the two into one experience-packed holiday.

Start off in Antigua, Guatemala’s colonial masterpiece, and continue to the serene setting of Lake Atitlán, encircled by volcanoes, – pocket handkerchief sized fields and time-warped indigenous villages.

Continue to Tikal, the vast Mayan city where ancient temples and pyramids penetrate the rainforest canopy. Crossing the border into Belize, stay at a remote countryside lodge surrounded by tropical foliage rich in wildlife; enjoy the thrills and spills of outdoor activities, or just relax. Overall, you'll be enchanted by the friendly people, extraordinary architecture and diverse flora and fauna.

Holiday itinerary

UK clients depart, arriving in Guatemala the same day.

Day 1

Transfer to colonial Antigua.

Days 2-3

Explore the city, with guided walks.

Day 4

By road to Lake Atitlán via the market at Chichicastenango.

Day 5

Excursion on Lake Atitlán.

Day 6

At leisure to further explore the lakeside.

Day 7

Drive to Guatemala City; fly to Flores.

Day 8

Guided exploration of the Mayan archaeological site Tikal.

Day 9

Drive across the Belize border to Chaa Creek.

Days 10-11

Outdoor activities and excursions.

Day 12

Depart for international flight or extension.

UK clients arrive home the following day.

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What our experts say

Despite sharing borders, Guatemala and Belize are probably the two most contrasting countries in Central America. Our Kinkajou Journey travels through the colonial towns, indigenous lakeside communities, colourful markets and then on to the jungle to visit Mayan Tikal and over the border to the stay in the mountains of wildlife rich Belize. 

Alex Walker

Alexandra Walker

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Kinkajou: Best of Guatemala and Belize

Back to list of places visited
Antigua and the highlands
Antigua

Antigua was once one of Spanish America’s greatest cities, its prosperity and importance interrupted by earthquakes. Nowadays it is a peaceful, multi-national place retaining the best aspects of its Guatemalan heritage. Lovely to look at, it hosts lanes and shady plazas where flowering plants spill over crumbly walls, and pastel-painted colonial façades are punctuated with heavy wooden doors.

Boutiques, galleries, arty cafés and restaurants thrive here. The city is encircled by three volcanic peaks, along the fertile skirts of which flourish orchards and kitchen gardens. Beyond in the western highlands are traditional villages with flourishing markets. Chichicastenango, 1,965m, is the best known but others such as Zunil are also a riot of colour.

When to go
The best weather conditions in the upland areas are during the dry season Dec - May. It can be cold in the highlands in winter. Culture lovers may opt to spend Easter in Antigua. The busiest time for tourists is Dec - Mar. 
Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency

Notes can be withdrawn using a UK credit or debit card from ATMs in Antigua and Chichicastenango. You may have ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK and each transaction is limited to about £100.

Time difference

GMT -6 hours.

Combines with

Lake Atitlán, 52 km from Antigua by road; Flores, for a visit to Tikal ruins, 1hr by air from Guatemala City (1 hour by road from Antigua).

Getting there

There are flights to Guatemala City via US and European hubs, the journey from London to Guatemala City takes around taking around 13 hours. It’s an hour’s drive from the airport to Antigua.

Key events
Semana Santa, Easter. Celebrations throughout the country; especially impressive in Antigua – justifiably considered the best in Latin America.
Santo Tomás, Chichicastenango, 13 -22 Dec. Processions, traditional dancing, marimba music.

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Lake Atitlan and villages
Lake Atitlán and villages
In turn cobalt glassy-clear and silver misty, mirror-calm and wispy-waved, Atitlán is one of the most captivating lakes in the world. Many visitors linger here, and the shores are dotted with international communities as well as traditional Mayan villages. The lake is fringed by tiny fields where smallholders cultivate kitchen garden crops on fertile soils, beyond which are fuming green volcanoes which cast ever-changing shadows over the water. Lakeside settlements, most easily reached by boat across the water, are enlivened with textile markets, each with its own costume and character: Sololá and Santiago de Atitlán are among the largest and most interesting.
Key Events

• Semana Santa, celebrations throughout the country. Maximón is paraded through Santiago Atitlán, usually on the Wednesday of Holy Week. 

• Village fiestas: There are fiestas throughout the year in most Guatemalan villages, including on the community’s saint day. Santiago’s main fiesta is 23-27 Jul, Sololá’s 11-17 Aug.
When to go

The best weather conditions in the upland areas are during the dry season Dec-May. It can be cold and in the highlands in winter; but the fields bursting with crops make the landscape look its best when the sun does shine. The busiest time for tourists is Dec-Mar.

Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency

Quetzal. Acquire local currency in a larger town before you head into this region. You may have ask your bank to authorise ATM withdrawals before you leave the UK and each transaction is limited to about £100.

Time difference

GMT -6 hours.

Combines with

Flores (for visit to Tikal ruins), 4.5 hours by road from Lanquín.

Getting there

It’s a 2hr drive to Panajachel from Antigua (52km)

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Tikal

The Petén of northern Gualtemala is a vast lowland blanketed in dense tropical rainforest. Nowadays it’s sparsely inhabited but this was not the case in the past: the Mayan city of Tikal, which began its development before 250AD, grew to be a vast cultural, religious and commercial centre. Following its collapse (c. 900AD) its jungle remoteness kept it isolated until roads and airstrips brought it within reach in the late 20th century. With its surviving temple pyramids piercing the canopy, vast plazas, its wealth of carvings and inscriptions and its location in the midst of a wild-life rich national park it is now one of the continent’s most impressive cultural monuments.

When to go

Mar - Apr are the hottest but also the driest months, while in Dec - Feb it can be chilly at the beginning and end of the day. Most rain falls between May - Oct when there are plenty of mosquitoes and other insects.

Language

Spanish.

Getting local currency
Quetzal. Dollars can be exchanged in banks, hotels and travel agencies in Flores, and there are a couple of ATMs where notes may be withdrawn using a UK credit or debit card. (Best not to rely on these and use this method in a larger town before travelling to the Petén). You may have ask your bank to authorise withdrawals before you leave the UK and each transaction is limited to about £100.  
Time difference

GMT -6 hours.  

Combines with

Belize: Belize City is a 4-5 hours drive east from Flores (220 km) crossing the land border into western Belize.

Getting there

There are daily flights from Guatemala City (1 hour) to Flores. From here it’s a 1 hour 15mins drive to Tikal.

Back to list of places visited
Maya mountains and jungle
Chan Chich Lodge Belize
The unspoilt interior of Belize harbours some of Central America’s loveliest landscapes and a host of little-visited Mayan sites. In the north, wildlife sanctuaries rub shoulders with sugar cane fields, and recently uncovered Mayan cities poke their head above the canopy of dense jungle. The river banks from the Mennonite village of Shipyard are decorated with tangled bromeliads hanging from tropical trees. Nearby are the Mayan ruins of Lamanai with almost 700 structures.

West towards Guatemala, in the Cayo District, the Macal River offers a water-borne way to explore the forest scenery; and the jagged peaks and gorges of ancient Mountain Pine Ridge are just begging to be explored.
When's the best time to go Belize's Mayan mountains?
The best weather conditions are during the dry season Dec-May. It can be cool in the highlands in winter, while the jungle areas are hot and humid all year round. There’s a low risk of tropical storms or hurricanes Jun-Nov. The busiest time for tourists is Dec-Mar. 
What's the official language of Belize Mayan mountains?

English.

How do I get local currency in Belize Mayan mountains?
Belizean dollar. Notes can be obtained from money exchanges and  from banks which will supply advances on a debit or credit card. There are few, if any, ATMs outside Belize City where you can use a UK credit or debit card. 
What's the time difference between Belize Mayan mountains and UK?

GMT -6 hrs.

What places combine well with Belize Mayan mountains?
A beach stay on one of Belize’s coral cayes, accessible from Belize City by air or boat; a visit to neighbouring Guatemala, with its Latin and Mayan cultural heritage, there’s a road link to the Mayan ruins at Tikal in the jungle Petén; southern Mexico, crossing the land border at Chetumal. 
How do I get to Belize Mayan mountains?

The north: fly from Belize City to Gallon Jug (30mins) followed by a short drive to Chan Chich. By road and river via Orange Walk from Belize City to Lamanai (2hrs). For the Macal River, travel from Belize to San Ignacio, 115km.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

Tailor-made holiday

Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for over 37 years.
We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.

97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today. Kinkajou: Best of Guatemala and Belize

  • Ambergris Caye 4 days from £573pp

    Fly to the coral island of Ambergris Caye and spend a few days based at the first-class plantation-style Victoria House. The hotel has its own narrow beach and a small swimming pool. Diving, snorkelling and fishing can be arranged locally.

    Day 1: Fly from Belize City to Ambergris Caye by light aircraft.  This is the most northerly and largest caye in Belize, 46km long, just a breath-taking 15min flight low over transparent turquoise waters. The island offers a splendid vantage point from which to enjoy the barrier reef. Excellent diving and snorkelling can be experienced less than 1km from the shore.

    Days 2,3: Enjoy the facilities of this first class resort, including finedining, diving, snorkelling, fishing, or just relaxing on its private beach. If you can drag yourselves off the property, head into the relaxed main town of San Pedro, which has many lively bars, and restaurants serving fresh lobster.

    Day 4: Return by air to Belize City to continue your holiday or to connect with your international flight.
    UK clients arrive home the following day.

    (This property does not offer twin accommodation. Please enquire with us for other hotels which offer twin rooms).

    /Breakfast daily.

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Please note

The April 2019 departure coincides with the famous Semana Santa (Easter) celebrations in Antigua, Guatemala.

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28 Jan 2020

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