Four Top Guatemala Tours Offer Adventure and Inspiration
PHOTO: Four tour companies are offering new Guatemala itineraries in 2015 and 2016. (Photo by Brian Major)
Guatemala is a land of exotic landscapes and mystical experiences. A volcanic mountain range extends along the country’s northern Highlands region, while the south is filled with lush forested mountain ranges.
Throughout the country, smoldering volcanoes enveloped in clouds are framed by steep, plunging valleys covered with rows of produce from indigenous farms. Amidst the volcanoes and mountains lies Lake Atitlan, Central America’s deepest, which German explorer Alexander Humboldt described as “the most beautiful lake in the world.”
Guatemala is also a traditional and present-day center of Mayan culture, home to the sacred Mayan city of Chichicastenango, located 6,447 feet above sea level. The city’s 400 year-old church of Santo Tomás, built atop a Pre-Columbian temple, is to this day among the Mayan culture’s holiest sites.
In short, Guatemala is an adventure-focused traveler’s dream. This year, private tour operators supported by the Guatemalan Tourism Board (INGUAT) are offering four packages that feature Guatemala’s majesty and magic.
Volcano Adventures is offering a 14-day hiking tour to three active volcanoes (Fuego, Pacaya, and Santiaguito) located in national parks. Led by an expert volcanologist and professional guides, the journey includes stops at Lake Atitlan and Quetzaltenango, the county’s second-largest city. Accommodations include six nights in spacious tents and seven in high-end hotels. Priced at $3,900 per person, the packages include camping gear, ground transportation and food and beverages. Tours are planned for Dec. 20, 2015; and Jan. 17 and Feb. 14, 2016; custom trips can also be arranged.
Canadian tour operator G Adventures is offering a 12-day trip that features both Guatemala and its neighbor Belize. Embarking from the colonial Guatemalan city of Antigua, the “Mayan Encounter” itinerary visits Guatemala’s Caribbean coast in Rio Dulce, followed by the famed Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park. Finally, travelers cross the border into Belize to visit San Ignacio and Caye Caulker. Rates start at $1,199 per person and travelers may also upgrade to a private journeys. The itinerary can be customized and is available year-around.
Guatemala is home to 720 bird species, making it a natural must-see for travelers eager for avian adventure. Rockjumper Birding Tours has designed a nine-day tour of Guatemalan coffee plantations and highland lakes where travelers can sight the region’s array of airborne wildlife. Travelers will have opportunities to study and photograph the quetzal, the country’s national bird, and the sought-after horned guan. The Jan. 15, 2016 tour is priced at $2,700 per person; private journeys can be arranged during the year.
Travelers in search of a luxurious Guatemala experience can opt for Wilderness Travel’s eight-day private tour of the country, which features visits to Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Tikal, the Mayan city of Copan in Honduras. Vacationers will also enjoy snorkeling off of Belize’s barrier reef. Activities will include an ancient Mayan textile weaving excursion in the colonial city of Antigua, a visit to the outdoor market at Chichicastenango and exploration of ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park.
Rates start at $2,595 (excluding airfare) and include optional stays at Guatemala luxury properties including Casa Santo Domingo in Antigua, Casa Palopo at Lake Atitlan and Francis Ford Coppola’s La Lancha near Tikal.
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