Travel from Antigua into the Guatemalan wilderness to discover crystalline waterfalls in a limestone river and mystical caves that were once used for ancient Mayan rituals. Refresh yourself with a relaxing swim in the beautiful Semuc Champey National Park, admiring your surroundings and breathing in the fresh jungle air. Then, travel to Flores deep in the Peten Jungle and experience the jungle as it comes alive in the early hours of the morning. Learn about Tikal, a former Maya citadel, once the largest and most powerful civilization in Meso-America, by exploring this archaeological site and taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to marvel at the majestic pyramids hidden away in the jungle. Return to Antigua on a nightbus. Embark on a trek to the Pacaya Volcano where you can hike on dried lava and see panoramic views of nearby volcanoes peeking out from the clouds. Spend your last night in this picturesque colonial city before your trip comes to an end.
Day by Day Itinerary:
Day 1: Shuttle Antigua - Lanquin
Depart Antigua at 8:00 hrs and travel on a shuttle to Lanquin in the heart of Guatemala arriving around 16:00 hrs. Overnight at your accommodation in Lanquin.
Day 2: Kanba Caves & Semuc Champey Day Trip
Take a hike through the mysterious caves of Kanba (activity at your own risk) which are filled with extraordinary limestone formations distributed among an endless stretch of different chambers (so far, the end of the cave system has not yet been discovered) housing a sharp pointed rock altar where ancient Maya once performed sacred rituals. The Maya people of Guatemala continue holding spiritual ceremonies here and believe that the cave is the "heart of heaven" where the secrets of many centuries are held.
Enjoy free time to swim and go river tubing in the crystalline waters of Semuc Champey where there are natural pools filled with fresh mountain spring water above a 300-meter long limestone bridge. Flowing underneath the bridge is the Cahabón River where you will have time to swim in the cool waters in a beautiful natural surrounding immersed in native flora and fauna. At the end of the bridge you will visit waterfalls over 40-feet in height where the water from the pools rejoins the Cahabon River. The color of the water is constantly changing depending on factors such as the season, sun and rainfall, a characteristic of the national park that makes this place an idyllic and awe-inspiring setting to experience and take photographs.
*Important Note: Participation in these activities is 100% at your own risk. You can choose to participate in them if you wish, but you must understand that they can be dangerous due to the unstable nature of the landscape. You are responsible for your own safety while participating in these activities. Use caution while hiking in the caves and swimming in the waterfalls, wear comfortable shoes or hiking sandals and bring an extra flashlight to light the way. Bring a towel and warm clothing to wear after the activity. If you have any concerns about your ability to complete this activity, please do not participate.
Overnight at your accommodation in Lanquin.
Day 3: Shuttle Lanquin - Flores
Continue your adventure by travelling into Guatemala’s Peten jungle from Lanquin to Flores on a shuttle departing at 08:00 hrs, arriving around 16:00 hrs. Get settled in to your accommodation and rest up for a big day ahead!
Day 4: Tikal Archaeological Site & Nightbus to Guatemala City
Rise early and take an early morning trip to see Tikal at dawn as the jungle comes alive. Listen to the sounds of howler monkeys and tropical birds as you explore this breathtaking archaeological site with a guide.
Tikal Archaeological Site:
Tucked away in the vast Peten Region that covers 222 square miles of lush jungle in the northwest corner of Guatemala lie the ruins of the most magnificent archaeological site and important Maya citadel in Mesoamerica. Tikal National Park, declared as a UN World Heritage Site in 1979, is the largest excavated archaeological site on the American continents and is one of the most important natural reserves of Central America.
It is known that Tikal, meaning “Place of Voices” in Maya, was one of the most powerful cities of their era covering more than 16 square kilometers and dominating other tribes in the surrounding region as well as interacting with neighboring cultures as far as Teotihuacan in the Valle de Mexico. The site was estimated to house between 10,000 - 90,000 inhabitants before being abruptly abandoned over 1000 years ago.
This magical ancient city is teeming with native flora and fauna. If you are lucky you may be able to spot a jaguar walking leisurely through the park, although large numbers of visitors have caused the wildlife to move further into the jungle away from the noise. Howler monkeys here are famous for their loud growling sounds which may surprise you from a tree top overhead. Keep an eye out for colorful birds throughout the park such as toucan, parrots, eagles and quetzals.
Walk among giant pyramids towering over 200 feet at dawn to feel the magical vibration of Tikal and its historic splendor. Listen to the jungle sounds of exotic birds, monkeys and small mammals and feel the humid jungle air on your skin as the Maya inhabitants of this site felt it 2000 years ago. Immerse yourself in the jungle at dawn for an early morning tour through the archaeological site to experience the jungle come alive as it wakes up at sunrise, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get in touch with nature and marvel at the majestic pyramids hidden away in the jungle.
Return to Flores and have dinner on your own before boarding your nightbus that will take you back to Guatemala City.
Day 5: Shuttle Guatemala City - Antigua & Pacaya Volcano Trek
Upon arrival to Guatemala City you will be transferred to Antigua.
Take an adventurous trek up the steep slopes of an active volcano and brag to your friends about it. Hike up the Pacaya Volcano slope for an hour and then trek onto dry lava that resembles a moon-like landscape. Look up to catch an eruption from the active volcano if you're lucky (depending on the activity of the volcano you may or may not see eruptions or lava). Take unforgettable photos in a landscape so surreal that you feel like you are walking on the moon. Admire the breathtaking landscape and views of neighboring volcanoes peeking through the clouds around you. Take your time returning to the base of the mountain as you make your way down the slippery, muddy slopes. (Note: Horses can be rented for the trip up and back.)
We recommend wearing comfortable trekking shoes and bringing a flashlight and a walking stick (or rent one for a few dollars from local kids before you start your hike). It gets dark and steep on the mountain if you are going up in the afternoon. If you are traveling during rainy season bring a raincoat or poncho... you will definitely need it! Bring bottled water for the trek and some extra cash to buy snacks afterward or pack a few power bars in your day pack to take with you.
Spend your last night saying goodbye to friends at your accommodation or go out and celebrate at a nearby bar.
Day 6: End of Trip
Your trip comes to an end today after check-out, with great memories of the incredible and unforgettable places you have visited in Guatemala.
Suggested Packing List: Comfortable walking shoes, swimsuit, towel, sun hat, sunblock, sunglasses, personal items, personal medications, small day pack, water bottle, camera, charger. For the Kanba Caves Tour, please bring your own flashlight or torch and wear comfortable walking shoes or hiking sandals that can get wet if you choose to participate in the Kanba Caves hike. For the Pacaya Volcano Trek, bring hiking sticks and a flashlight.
Note: Please be aware that transportation in Guatemala is often informal and unregulated. Drivers may try to squeeze in few more passengers than allowed to gain extra income. But rest assured that this is culturally very normal and that they will always get you safely to your destination.