Ancient XunantunichMain pyramid, XunantunichAncient Maya Temple, TikalClose Up Mask TempleColorful Mayan Cemetary, ChichicastenangoColors of Guatemala at the market in ChichicastenangoMayan colorful masks at the market in GuatemalaSculpture in Copan's archaeological parkMayan Temple Ruins, Xunantunich

Guatemala & Belize

Follow the rise and fall of Mayan civilization across the Classical period – and discover which sites were left standing after
the collapse. Travel through jungles, across lakes and over archaeological sites as we uncover the most powerful cities of
Maya society and the political tensions found between them.

January 28 – February 11, 2018 (15 Days)
$6,795 (exc. international airfare)
Single supp: $1,150
All breakfasts, 12 lunches & 10 dinners included


Tour Description


  • Spend a full day and a half exploring the magnificent Mayan citadel of Tikal
  • Travel by boat from Yaxha to Topoxte, magnificent cities that sit across a lake from each other

  • Explore Lamanai where the Mask Temple reveals two unique mask statues sitting at opposite ends of the building
  • Discover armadillos, foxes, iguanas and white-tailed deer as we travel through jungle terrain to reach ancient cities

All meals included


Jan 2018
Prof William Saturno


Today we arrive in Guatemala City and transfer to our luxurious five-star hotel in the capital’s vibrant heart.
Hotel: Westin Camino Real, Guatemala City

After breakfast, we enjoy an engaging orientation lecture before heading to the Popol Vuh Museum, an institution highly regarded for its funerary ceramics. The museum is also home to some extraordinary examples of both Mayan and colonial artwork.

Following lunch at a nearby restaurant, we visit the Ixchel Textile Museum for an enlightening insight in to traditional Guatemalan dress through the ages. Completing the afternoon with a tour of the city, we return to our hotel for a fabulous three-course dinner with the group.
Hotel: Westin Camino Real, Guatemala City

We begin our day with a stop at the Museo Nacional de Arqueologia y Etnología, which specializes in the conservation of regional artifacts. Some 25,000 pieces are housed here, including a magnificent stone throne from the pre-Columbian site of Piedras Negras.

Later, we travel to Antigua, a colorful city and UNESCO World Heritage site. Pausing for a three-course lunch at a local restaurant, we spend the rest of the day on a walking tour of the center, taking in a host of colonial landmarks that provide ornate examples of 17th– and 18th– century architecture.
Hotel: El Convento Boutique Hotel, Antigua

Today we continue to sightsee in Antigua. After a morning lecture, we step inside a preserved colonial house, the restored 16th-century Monastery of San Francisco, and the beautiful Baroque church of La Merced.

Following lunch, the afternoon is ours to spend in the city at our leisure. Sample the famous local chocolate, explore the local market, and walk the charming streets at your own pace.
Hotel: El Convento Boutique Hotel, Antigua

This morning we cross the border into Honduras and travel to Copán, one of the greatest Maya cities of the Classic period, a site continuously occupied for more than 2,000 years. The nearby town – our base for the next two nights – is particularly charismatic, thanks to its cobbled streets and red-tiled roofs. Meanwhile, the archaeological site itself benefits from ongoing research that brings new discoveries to light every year.

Taking lunch in town, we use the afternoon to begin our exploration of the ruins, viewing areas such as the Great Plaza and the etched pyramidal Hieroglyphic Stairway. Tonight we dine together at our locally-based hotel.
Hotel: Hotel Marina, Copan

Our jungle adventures continue via the Copán Acropolis and the Sepulturas Group of elite residences, where we find unique stone carvings and tombs. Breaking for a picnic lunch within the lush jungle remains, we go on to visit the excellent onsite museum, as well as Copán’s tunnels, where excavations have revealed some extraordinary early period architecture.
Hotel: Hotel Marina, Copan

An early start this morning takes us to the ancient Maya archaeological site of Quiriguá, where, upon arrival, we tour the excavations and museum. This impressive area is noted for monuments depicting the surreal creatures of the underworld. Thought to have been occupied since around 400 BC, Quiriguá reached the heights of its power in the 8th century with the defeat and capture of its rival Copán’s greatest king, “18-Rabbit”.

After lunch our trip continues with a long and scenic journey north to Tikal. We arrive at our hotel in the early evening and round off the day with dinner.
Hotel: Westin Camino Real, Tikal

Today we venture into the Petén Jungle and tour Yaxhá, a seldom-visited Classical city which once competed with Tikal. Formerly a Mayan ceremonial center, Yaxhá boasts an abundance of diverse flora and fauna; a stunning setting for a morning of exploration. Lunch is catered for on site.

Our excursion then sees us crossing Lake Yaxhá to the island ruins of Topoxté, a particularly important site in the Post-Classic period which features some 100 structures, some of which date back to the Pre-Classical era.

We return to our hotel and unwind over a delicious dinner.
Hotel: Westin Camino Real Tikal 

The splendid ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage site of Tikal is all ours, as we immerse ourselves on a full-day tour that includes lunch on site. One of the largest Mayan kingdoms in the world, Tikal has been under excavation and reconstruction since 1950.

As part of our visit we take in steep pyramids, huge plazas, enigmatic temples, elaborate shrines, and paved causeways. We round off the day with an evening lecture and a sumptuous three-course dinner at our hotel.
Hotel: Westin Camino Real, Tikal 

With over 6 square miles of Tikal to see, it’s well worth returning for a second trip this morning. Stopping at more of the site’s pyramids and palaces, we also tour the artifacts on display in the nearby museums. This afternoon there is free time to explore the rest of the site at our own pace, or to return to our hotel for a few hours’ rest.

This evening we come back together for another illuminating lecture, as well as dinner as a group.
Hotel: Westin Camino Real, Tikal 

After transferring to the border, we cross into Belize and the bustling frontier town of San Ignacio. This morning we visit the hilltop site of Xunantunich, above the Mopan River; one of the largest ancient cities in the Belize River Valley. This incredible archaeological site boasts three adjacent plazas, dominated by the renowned terraced pyramid of El Castillo.

After lunch, we make our way to Chaa Creek, where we embark on an intriguing nature walk in order to discover the medicinal powers of its indigenous plants. Later we return to San Ignacio, enjoying dinner and a lecture at our hotel.
Hotel: The San Ignacio Resort, San Ignacio

This morning sees us making an early morning departure for Caracol, which we reach via the Chiquibul Rainforest, Belize’s largest national park. Keep your eyes peeled for wild macaws, tapirs and jaguars as we go…

Caracol is characterized by its 136-foot temple, or “Sky Palace” – one of the tallest man-made structures in the country – and was formerly a major city in the Maya world. Excavations of this Classic period settlement have so far unearthed plazas, distinctive circular stone altars and even a sophisticated reservoir.

As part of our full day’s tour we also visit the site’s museum, before returning to San Ignacio for the night.
Hotel: The San Ignacio Resort, San Ignacio

After breakfast we leave the lush mountains for the superbly-named Orange Walk Town, where we board a boat for a voyage along the New River to Lamanai. Completely concealed from the river by vegetation, Lamanai was continuously occupied from 1500 BCE until the late 16th century. Be sure to keep your binoculars to hand as there are incredible examples of biodiversity here, including crocodiles, parrots and howler monkeys.

Our hotel for this evening is the remote lagoon-side hideaway of Lamanai Lodge, where we enjoy a hearty dinner surrounded by the spectacular sights and sounds of the jungle.
Hotels: Lamanai Outpost Lodge

After a morning boat transfer to Lamanai’s archaeological site, we see first-hand how excavations have freed the ruins of the ancient city from the forest, revealing royal residences, pyramids and ball courts. Highlights include the Mask Temple, from which the 13-foot high mask of a king stares out over the jungle, and the aptly-named High Temple, from the top of which it is possible to enjoy some truly breath-taking views.

After returning to the lodge for lunch, our last afternoon is spent enjoying this astounding natural area at our leisure. In the evening we reunite for a farewell dinner and drinks, raising a toast to the successes of our incredible Central American adventure.
Hotels: Lamanai Outpost Lodge

An early boat transfer and bus bring us back to the airport for an afternoon flight home.

Additional Information

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2018 Accommodation

Westin Camino Real, Guatemala City Westin-camino-1

This hotel welcomes you with marble floors, as you step inside and look up at the stain-glass dome ceiling. The luxurious rooms are decorated in neutral and warm colours & the modern amenities include an in-room coffee maker and juicer. The hotel has plenty to do in evenings, you can enjoy their jacuzzi or sauna, and for breakfast tuck into a wide selection of meats, cheeses and fresh pastries.



El Convento Boutique hotelEl-convento-1

In the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua Guatemala, walk the cobbled streets to find El Convento Boutique hotel. The hotel boasts stunning elegance and unparalleled comfort. The rooms have individual names after local places and famous people. Each rustic room is the perfect blend of new and old, with wooden beams, authentic décor, and modern rain showers.



Hotel Marina CopanMarina-Copan-Double1

Designed to feel like a colonial house, this cosy hotel has charm to create a warm and peaceful atmosphere. The hotel has a well-kept garden and pool set in front of the stunning backdrop of the mountains. Relax, rejuvenate and energize in the spa centre before venturing down to the night markets in the town. Alternatively, you can retreat with a drink to the roof terrace.



Westin Camino Real Tikal40_745_420_camino_real_tikal_outdoor_dining_crp-1

This hotel is in one of the most magnificent settings. On the edge of Peten Itza Lake, you are perfectly located to discover the mysteries of the Mayan world found in the World Heritage site just next door! Don’t miss the hotel’s evening boat ride onto the lake and feed exotic birds as they swoop down and catch bread in mid-air. Otherwise, relax after a day of exploring in your palm thatched room with balcony looking out onto jungle trees and vines.



The San Ignacio Resort hotelThe-san-ignacio-2

Luxury in the jungle, this hotel is situated in the hillside town of San Ignacio above the Macal River. Step into the marbled lobby, a mix of Mediterranean and Mexican décor. The hotel will not only be hosting you for the evening but is also the home to the Green Iguana Conservation Project. Here, you can have a tour and meet these indigenous reptiles and help support the project. Alternatively, relax away from the hotels scaled residents in the outdoor bar or in your room’s terrace equipped with hammock.



Lamanai Outpost LodgeOutpost-lodge-1

The authentic lodge is in the heart of the ancient Mayan city. The palm thatched wooden building blends perfectly with the surrounding jungle. Wake up to the sounds of howler monkeys and toucans. The cabin-style rooms are well-kept and clean. The lodge is also an activity centre where you may be able to schedule an evening’s river boat ride to spot crocodiles or watch the sunrise over the temples.