Explore Guatemala and Belize with Plan South America’s perfect two-week journey through – a fine-tuned balance of adventure, culture and relaxation. Discover colonial towns, volcano-ringed lakes, cultural heritage, traditional craft markets, Mayan ruins concealed deep in the jungle and deserted beaches on private island hideaways.
3 Nights in Antigua: Colonial Architecture & Colourful Craft Markets
As you begin to explore Guatemala City, hop straight into a private car to begin your Central America journey in the colonial city of Antigua, just a 40 minute drive away. Settle into a charming boutique hotel, most of which only have a handful of rooms, and nearly all of which have a roof terrace taking in arresting views of the city’s skyline of church spires and bell towers, and magnificent volcanoes in every direction.
Walk along cobbled-stone streets taking in Antigua’s 17th Century colonial architecture and pastel-coloured houses, beautifully preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Taste local delicacies in street food stalls, haggle for handcrafted goods in the numerous markets and pop into our favourite artisanal coffee shops for a pause and caffeine-fix between gentle sightseeing activities.
To push the pace up a notch, discover Antigua’s surroundings on a biking tour, passing through lush coffee plantations and visiting coffee cooperatives to see the process from bean to cup. For early risers, take a sunrise hike up a nearby volcano for the most incredible landscape views, stopping to toast marshmallows over volcanic rocks for elevenses with a twist. Antigua is home to some superb restaurants and cocktail bars, many set in flower-filled courtyards or enchanting roof terraces. We always give our clients the inside track on what to do, see, eat and drink whilst exploring the city.
3 Nights in Lake Atitlan: Volcano Views, Lakeside R&R, Culture & Tradition
Drive or, for sensational views, ride by helicopter to reach Lake Atitlan, a vast shimmering lake encircled by lush green hills and majestic volcanoes. This is one of the most beautiful and peaceful natural wonders to stumble upon as you explore Guatemala and the perfect place for a few days of relaxation. Stay at our favourite little retreat, Casa Palopo, for amazing food, personal service and incredible views from the pool-side loungers.
Spend a day exploring the lake by private boat, hopping from village to village to discover the region’s cultural heritage and traditions. Visit small communities and learn their distinct crafts, whether that’s back-strap weaving, beading or pottery – it’s a wonderful place to pick up handmade goods. We really recommend visiting the Santa Catarina Palopo community, which has been transformed in recent years through using art as a tool for social change. Spend a day or two painting a house here as part of our Travel With Purpose programmes.
2 Nights in Peten: Mayan Ruins in the Jungle
Fly north to Flores and explore Guatemala’s deep jungle to uncover a cornucopia of ancient Mayan ruins. Explore the sites of Tikal and Uaxactun, where spectacular temples, pyramids, tunnels and chambers have been incredibly well-preserved. It’s also exciting to see great mounds throughout the jungle where ruins are yet to be excavated. Rise early to climb the highest pyramid at sunrise. It’s the most breathtaking view point over the forest canopy, where you can spot other temples poking through the treetops.
We recommend staying at a peaceful little hideaway hotel on the banks of Lake Petén Itzá, or for a real adventure, sleep out in safari-style tents in the forest amongst Mayan ruins. We organise guided night walks to spot nocturnal creatures such as possums and owls, followed by a delicious camp-fire feast of Guatemalan fare. Our luxury tents are fitted with proper beds and allow you to be first at the sites in the morning to explore before the crowds.
3 Nights in Cayo: Outdoor Adventures & Eco-Retreats
Cross the border into Belize and you’re greeted by another incredible Mayan site, the vast ruins of Xunantunich. Spend a leisurely morning strolling the Grand Plaza, scrambling over rocks and imagining what life was like here at the height of the Mayan civilisation.
Cayo District is an adventure playground of thick forests, mystical creeks and deep caves. Stay in a luxury eco-lodge on the banks of a wild river, feasting on a menu of outdoor adventures: mountain biking, hiking, riding, canoeing, white-water rafting and canyoning. We arrange visits to traditional Mayan villages to meet locals and learn how to cook the traditional dishes of the region.
Beach Relaxation (for as long as you wish!)
Belize has a dazzling coast of powdery beaches, peaceful fishing villages and countless unspoilt islands off-shore. It boasts the second largest barrier reef in the world, just a short boat-ride from the mainland, as well as the world-famous scuba-diving site, The Blue Hole. Placencia and Ambergris Caye are two of our top destinations for chill time on the beach, tying in perfectly at the end of a holiday filled with adventure and culture. We have put together our top picks for the most beautiful private islands, luxury boutique hotels and family-friendly villas to choose from (we’ll bring in private fishing guides, expert chefs, nannies etc. to make your beach holiday completely stress-free).
Stay a Little Longer...
For those with a little more time, these countries are extraordinarily diverse, with many more beautiful regions that deserve further exploration. We can arrange wildlife tracking, bird-watching and medicinal plant walks deep in the jungle, deep-sea fishing off the coast of Punta Gorda, and home-stays in rural Mayan settlements in Toledo. If the history of the Mayan World is of particular interest, visit Copan archaeological site on the border between Guatemala and Honduras. Our local expert historian privately guides our guests through the vast complex of ancient temples, altars, tunnels and hieroglyphs, bringing the sacred site to life.
A journey through Guatemala and Belize combines well with southern Mexico – call our specialists to find out more.