Best of Guatemala & Mexico Trip Notes

Best of Guatemala & Mexico

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 19 Aug 2016
Best of Guatemala & Mexico
Trip code: QVSB
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Travel from the cobblestone streets of Antigua, through Belize and along the Yucatan Peninsula to the beachside delights of Playa del Carmen on this Guatemala to Mexico adventure. Discover ancient Mayan ruins, explore the pristine shores of the Caribbean coast, be enchanted by Guatemala's highlands and find colourful marine life in laidback Belize. From volcano studded Antigua to the chilled out charm of Mexico's coast - this tour delivers a slice of action, a dose of history and culture, and some well-deserved relaxation.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationEmergency contact
ThemesAccommodation NotesVisas
Why we love itMeals introductionWhat to take
MapMealsClimate and seasonal information
ItineraryMoney mattersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingSafetyA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining pointResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeFinish pointFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinishing point instructions
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Why we love it
- Discover the vibrant and diverse scenery of Central America
- Visit Antigua and be immersed in old-world charm
- Gaze over the jungle from the magnificent ruins of Tikal
- Unwind on Caye Caulker off the coast of Belize
- Sip a cool margarita on Playa del Carmen
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Antigua
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Guatemala!
Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

As there's a great deal to do in Antigua we recommend staying a few extra days to make the most of this exciting city. If you need help booking extra accommodation, our reservations team will be happy to assist.

If you would like to experience a Salsa lesson, you can try one of the below Schools for a class:

New Sensation Salsa
7a Avenida Norte #78, Antigua
+502 5033-0921
Open from 9 to 9 every day.

Salsa Con Gloria
6calle Poniente #9 LA Sala Bar y Rest., Antigua
+502 4374-1391
Optional Activities
  • Antigua by the Bean - Urban Adventures - USD76
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop - USD24
  • Antigua - Bike tour - USD30
  • Antigua - Santiago Zamora village tour - USD10
  • Antigua - Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour - USD45
  • Antigua - Salsa lessons (per hour) - USD7
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Antigua
    As the seat of the Spanish colonial government, Antigua was once the most important city in Central America. In 1773 the city was destroyed by an earthquake but many of the colonial buildings have been carefully restored and the architecture from its glory days can still be admired. Walk through the quiet cobblestone streets past heavy carved-wood entrances. There are many fascinating markets and museums to explore, or if your tastes run to more active adventures hire a mountain bike and ride through the countryside. The views of mountain peaks and deep valleys, covered in lush vegetation are simply beautiful.

    Perhaps check out the CHOCOMUSEO located on two blocks away from central park. Here you will learn all about chocolate, its history and nutritional values and you may be lucky enough to get a sample bag of chocolates at the end of the tour. Otherwise just grab a coffee from one of the many coffee shops in central park and just sit back relax and enjoy the beauty of this incredible city and the amazing people you will find. If you want to learn more about the famous Guatemalan coffee you can go on a coffee tour, visit the plantations, do some coffee tasting and even buy some to take back home.

    Go out for a stroll and try tamales, a local dish usually prepared traditionally on weekends and served in a corn leaf. You could also give the pepian a try, a meal that consists of a rich dark sauce and three meats (chicken, beef and pork). The best value food you find is next to the artisan market close to the bus station.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 3 Rio Dulce
    This morning we make an early start and travel by private minibus to Rio Dulce (approx 8 hrs).
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 4 Rio Dulce
    Take an included boat trip down the river to visit Livingston, a fascinating Garifuna town on the coast.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 5 Flores
    We continue on to Flores today (approx 4 hrs), our jumping off point for exploring the ruins at Tikal. The afternoon is free to explore Flores.
    Flores was officially founded by the Spanish in 1700, but had existed in various forms well before. It has long remained isolated with locals relying on subsistence farming of corn and beans and the gathering of chicle from nearby trees to produce gum. Many of the locals still get about in the traditional way, by dug out canoe. Take time to stroll through the cobblestone streets past pastel-coloured buildings, buy local handicrafts or take a dip in Lake Peten Itza.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 6 Tikal/San Ignacio
    This morning we rise early and take a guided tour of the ruins of Tikal National Park.
    Towering above the jungle of the Tikal National Park, the five granite temples of Tikal are an awesome sight and one of the most magnificent Maya ruins. Hidden in the jungle growth is a maze of smaller structures just waiting to be explored. The energetic can climb to the top of the ruins for spectacular views over the canopy. You may even spot toucans, macaws and other colourful birds.
    Following our visit it's time to say goodbye to Guatemala and head across the border to San Ignacio (approx 3 hrs). The journey to the border is on a dirt road, so you really feel like an explorer crossing from one country to another.
    Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America, which will make chatting with locals much easier. The Belizeans are known for their relaxed and easy going way of live. You will be amazed how many different cultures coexist harmoniously here.
    We have limited time in San Ignacio but you can choose to join one of the optional activities, including the ATM Cave, en route to Belize City on Day 7.
    The cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal is a living museum of Mayan relics. Wade through water until you reach the Mayan ceremonial site. Here you will find ceramic pots and crystallised skeletons, preserved by the natural processes of the cave for over 1,400 years.
    All guests at our hotel in San Ignacio are required to pay an additional charge of USD20 per night if they choose to use the air conditioner in their room. Electricity in Belize is incredibly expensive so most hotels charge an extra rate to use the air conditioning - and USD20 per night is pretty standard. We could include this extra charge in the trip price but then all of our travellers would have to pay whether they want to use it or not. We believe giving our travellers the option is a fairer way to manage this situation.
    Included Activities
    • Guided tour of Tikal ruins
      Optional Activities
      • San Ignacio - Cahal Pech Ruins - USD10
      • San Ignacio - Xunantunich Ruins - USD10
      • San Ignacio - Iguana Conservation Project - USD9
        Accommodation
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Day 7 Caye Caulker
        Today we leave San Ignacio in the early morning and head north to Belize City on a local bus (approx 3 hrs). Get ready for stop and go as there are very few official bus stops in Belize and the bus will keep stopping to pick up passengers. Use this to make conversation with the person next to you on the bus; Belizeans love to talk about their country!
        Once in Belize City we take a water taxi to Caye Caulker (approx 1 hr).
        The Belize Cayes are a group of islands a short boat ride away from the coast. There are a number of these islands to choose from, but we base ourselves on Caye Caulker as this is one of the more popular islands with travellers. From here it is possible to arrange day trips to other cayes, to the best reefs for snorkelling, or simply to take a local boat out to the reef of Caulker itself. Each island has its own particular character, but all of them have the unmistakeable Caribbean pace and charm.
        Optional Activities
        • San Ignacio - Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave - inc. transport to Belize City, guide and lunch) - USD120
        • Caye Caulker - Guided snorkelling trip (full day) - USD70
        • Caye Caulker - Guided snorkelling trip (half day) - USD35
        • Caye Caulker - Sunset sail - USD37
        • Caye Caulker - Manatee tour - USD60
        • Caye Caulker - Sea kayaking (half day) - USD25
        • Caye Caulker - Stand up paddle board rental (per hour) - USD22
        • Caye Caulker - Bike rental (per day) - USD15
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Day 8-9 Caye Caulker
          Relax on the beach or head out to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, home to Shark Ray Alley and the world's second longest barrier reef. Snorkel among the colorful corals and see tropical fish, sharks and manta rays. You could also choose to go manatee spotting. These huge peaceful creatures are often called sea cows and are quite curious to meet their visitors.
          If you're interested in sampling local cuisine, Caye Caulker is famous for its lobster. Not the cheapest meal you'll ever buy, but so good. Always make sure that you respect the season: the lobsters can only be caught between June 15th and February 15th. Some of the best meals on the island are cooked on the road side. How about some grilled shrimp and a lovely rum and coke made with the local fire water?
          Accommodation
          Hotel (2 nt)
          Day 10 Tulum
          Very early this morning (about 6.30am) we head back to Belize City by water taxi, and travel by bus to the border with Mexico (approx. 4 hrs). After crossing the border we head to the Mexican town of Chetumal where we swap buses and head to our final destination: Tulum (approx. 3 hrs).
          Optional Activities
          • Tulum - Entrance to ruins - USD10
          • Tulum - Snorkel rental (per day) - USD12
          • Tulum - Bike rental (per day) - USD10
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 11 Tulum
            Tulum is a beach paradise on the Caribbean coast. Spend your time relaxing on the beach or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For a taste of Mayan architecture take an optional visit of the ruins of Tulum. These ruins sit atop a cliff amid palm fringed beaches and white sand beaches. You can even go for a swim within its ancient walls.
            Accommodation
            Hotel (1 nt)
            Day 12 Playa del Carmen
            The last leg of our journey is a short one after all this travelling. We hop on a local Mexican bus that will take us to Playa del Carmen (approx. 1.5 hours), our departure destination.
            With azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but without the party atmosphere. Spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns or strolling along the white sands. In the evenings kick back and watch the waves with a margarita. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
            Optional Activities
            • Playa del Carmen - Dos Ojos Cenote snorkelling tour - USD80
            • Playa del Carmen - Bike rental (per day) - USD10
            • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel - USD28
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Day 13 Playa del Carmen
              There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
              In order to make the most of what Playa has to offer, we strongly recommend that you extend your stay in Playa del Carmen for one or two extra days. Please contact us if you need us to assist you with additional accommodation. If you can afford a few extra days in Playa, you may want to spend time snorkelling among the mangroves or strolling along the white sands. For adventures further afield take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving.
              Itinerary disclaimer
              ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

              OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
              Physical rating

              Included activities
              Guided tour of Tikal ruins
              Important notes
              The itinerary of this trip was updated on 11 April, 2016. The current itinerary is different to what is advertised in the 2016 brochure.

              A single supplement is available on this trip.

              Group size
              Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
              Your fellow travellers
              GROUP TRAVEL
              As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

              SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
              Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

              A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
              Accommodation
              Hotel (12nt)
              OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
              The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

              TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
              Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

              CHECK-IN TIME
              Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

              PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
              If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
              Meals introduction
              While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

              While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in this region. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip.
              To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat dinner together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

              DIET REQUIREMENTS
              Generally speaking, in bigger cities/towns vegetarians can expect a reasonable range of vegetarian venues and/or vegetarian options within tourist restaurant menus. However, vegetarianism is not the norm in this part of the world so options can be limited when eating at homestays, small local restaurants, street stools, markets, etc.

              More restrictive diet requirements (vegans, celiac, gluten intolerance, fructose intolerance, lactose intolerance, etc.) can also be accommodated along this trip but you should expect a lesser variety than what you can expect at home. We recommend that, if possible, to bring your own supply of snacks with you.

              Please let us know your diet requirements before your trip starts.

              SIMPLE BREAKFAST
              Some of the included breakfasts along this trip can be quite simple: toasts, spreads, juice and coffee or tea.
              Meals
              No meals included
              Money matters
              The official currency of Guatemala is the Quetzal (GTQ).

              The official currency of Belize is the Belize dollar (BZD).

              The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN).

              With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.

              Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.

              It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US dollars is the most readily changeable currency.

              VERY IMPORTANT:
              USD100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other USD bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.

              SPENDING MONEY
              When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

              If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.

              The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

              Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

              Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest USD2-USD4 per passenger per day.

              Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest USD1-USD2 per day for drivers.

              Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD2-USD4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

              In total, we recommend you budget approx USD5-USD10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

              Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.

              Please allow US$15 when flying into Guatemala City airport and a further US$15 if you are flying out of Guatemala City airport. These payments must be made in cash at the airport and are in addition to the US$30 international departure tax which may be included in your international flight ticket.

              If departing Guatemala by land, please allow US$3 for departure tax.

              Please allow US$19 for departure tax from Belize.

              Please allow USD25 for international departure tax from Mexico. This is sometimes included in your international airfare.

              Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

              EMERGENCY FUNDS
              Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

              When it comes to money matters on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like drinks, shopping, optional activities, tipping and laundry. It’s always better to bring a little more than you think you’ll need.

              Also make sure you’ve read your trip details thoroughly so you know what’s included in the trip price and what isn’t. This should make budgeting a little easier. You’ll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that’s this document).

              MEALS NOT INCLUDED
              For this trip we recommend between USD 25 to 50 per day. How do we work this out?

              Breakfast. If breakfast is not included, you can expect to pay between USD5 to USD10 at a local café.

              Lunch. If you are happy with a quick snack on the go, you may get away with as little as USD5 to USD10 for a set menu at a local eatery or a sandwich and a drink at a café. On the other hand, a lunch meal at a more tourist restaurant can cost between USD10 to USD15.

              Dinner. At dinner time, your leader will normally recommend restaurants where you can safely try the local specialties of the region. Expect meals to cost between USD12 to USD25 for a main.

              These are indicative prices only. If you are in a tight budget, are happy to eat just local food and are not afraid of an upset tummy every now and then, you can eat cheaper than this. If you want to try just the finest food at the finest restaurants, then you can expect meals to cost as much as in western countries.

              EMERGENCY FUNDS
              We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.

              CREDIT CARD & ATMS
              Credit cards are generally available in tourist shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are generally preferred over American Express, Diners, etc. Smaller venues take cash only.

              ATMs are widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money throughout this trip (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions. Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to USD100 per day.

              Traveller cheques have become less accepted and generally quite cumbersome to exchange. The best “Plan B” is to carry USD100 – USD200 in small notes in case of an eventuality (your bank card doesn’t work, you are unable to withdraw funds, etc.)

              In most countries you must pay an airport departure tax. Nowadays, these departure taxes are added into the cost of your airline tickets and paid for at the time of purchase.

              Unless mentioned below, no airport departure tax has to be paid during this trip.
              Group leader
              All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

              Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
              Safety
              Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

              We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

              Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

              For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

              http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety

              TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
              Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

              BUSES:
              Due to safety concerns, we don't use 'chicken buses' (i.e. repainted US school buses) in Guatemala and Honduras - inter-city coaches are used instead.

              SEAT BELTS:
              Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

              PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
              While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

              FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
              Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

              WATER SAFETY:
              Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.

              LIFE JACKETS:
              While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.

              MONEY WITHDRAWAL:
              In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
              Joining point
              Posada Los Bucaros
              7a Av. Norte, #94
              Antigua
              GUATEMALA
              Phone: +502 78322346
              Joining point instructions
              The easiest way to get from Guatemala City airport to Antigua is by taxi. The ride will take around45 minutes and cost you about 350 Quetzals (45 USD approx.). Make sure you negotiate the price before boarding the taxi

              Alternatively, "Antigua Shuttle" buses are available hourly from Guatemala City airport to Antigua. This service is not provided by one company but by a number of freelance drivers authorized by Antigua Shuttle. The journey time is around one hour and the cost is approximately 80 GTQ (USD 10 approx) . Look for the sign reading "Antigua shuttle" as you exit the main hall

              Should you have pre booked an arrival transfer through Intrepid make sure you go outside of the airport arrivals section. The driver will be waiting there with a sign with your name on it
              Finish point
              Hotel Casa Tucan
              Calle 4 entre Avenidas 10 y 15 77710 Playa del Carmen Centro,
              Quintana Roo Mexiko
              Playa del Carmen
              MEXICO
              Phone: +52 984 8730283
              Finishing point instructions
              If you have pre booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.

              If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.
              Emergency contact
              In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's local ground representative for Central America and Mexico, Viaventure, can be reached on +502 5778 4100 or +502 5778 4052

              For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page:

              For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

              While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

              We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

              You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

              For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

              In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.
              Visas
              Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

              GUATEMALA:
              Australia: Not required
              Belgium: Not required
              Canada: Not required
              Germany: Not required
              Ireland: Not required
              Netherlands: Not required
              New Zealand: Not required
              South Africa: Yes - in advance
              Switzerland: Not required
              United Kingdom: Not required
              USA: Not required

              BELIZE:
              Australia: Not required
              Belgium: Not required
              Canada: Not required
              Germany: Not required
              Ireland: Not required
              Netherlands: Not required
              New Zealand: Not required
              South Africa: Not required
              Switzerland: Not required
              United Kingdom: Not required
              USA: Not required

              MEXICO:
              Australia: Not required
              Belgium: Not required
              Canada: Not required
              Germany: Not required
              Ireland: Not required
              Netherlands: Not required
              New Zealand: Not required
              South Africa: Yes - in advance
              Switzerland: Not required
              United Kingdom: Not required
              USA: Not required

              As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking.
              Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.


              Passport:
              As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
              Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

              Visas:
              Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

              Also remember to check whether a transit visa is required on route to join this trip or on the way home.
              What to take
              What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

              Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

              Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

              http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

              WARM CLOTHING:
              Temperatures can be low in the winter months, especially at altitude, so bring a set of warmer clothes including thermal underclothes and a fleece jacket.

              WATER BOTTLE
              Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

              IMAGES FROM HOME:
              During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.

              What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. 

              Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although a small suitcase with wheels is ok too. Whatever you take, be mindful that you will need to be able to carry your own luggage, handle it at airports, take in/out of accommodation and perhaps even short walking distances (max 30 minutes).

              In terms of weight, keep in mind that if you are flying domestically (either on this itinerary or during your personal time) airlines generally allow a maximum of 20kg for check in luggage.

              Finally, you'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc. for day trips.

              Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:


              ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST

              Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts and a copy of this document
              Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets
              Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card
              Money belt and small padlocks
              Personal medication
              Daypack
              Watch/Alarm clock or phone that can be used for both
              Torch/flashlight (your phone’s may suffice)
              Electrical adapter plug (view www.kropla.com)
              Toiletries/travel wipes
              Insect repellent
              Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses
              Earplugs and eye mask (you might be sharing with a snorer!)
              Refillable water bottle
              Phrase book
              Warm clothes including hat and gloves - When travelling in cooler climates
              Wind and waterproof rain jacket
              Travel Towel
              Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks
              Camera with spare memory card and charger/batteries
              Swimwear (dependent on itinerary)
              Emergency fund as mentioned in the Money Matters section
              Clothes! Bear in mind that laundry facilities are widely available throughout this trip. The cost varies between USD1 to USD3 (approx.) per kilo and it can normally be dropped off and picked the same day.

              SLEEPING BAGS
              It’s not essential that you bring a sleeping bag for any of our trips however on some itineraries we will recommend either bringing one from home or hiring one on the ground. If this is the case it will be mentioned in the ‘region specific’ packing list.
              Climate and seasonal information
              HURRICANE SEASON:
              Please note hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors situations as they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
              Health
              All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

              You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

              YELLOW FEVER:
              A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

              It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

              DENGUE FEVER:
              Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.

              WHO REPORTS:
              The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.

              Zika Virus:

              “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in parts of Central and South America. This virus is mostly concerning to pregnant women as recently in Brazil local authorities have linked the virus to an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull).
              In addition to the risk mentioned above WHO have reported that Zika symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
              In line with the above, Intrepid recommends all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip to Central and South America.
              At this stage, WHO is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions related to the Zika virus.
              More information on the Zika virus can be found at the following links:
              World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/”

              WHO – WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
              The World Health Organization has identified the following mosquito transmitted diseases in this region:

              Dengue, Yellow Fever, Malaria and Zika (amongst others)

              For more information, please visit www.who.int


              Zika virus.
              According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there has been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in parts of Central and South America. This virus is mostly concerning to pregnant women as recently in Brazil local authorities have linked the virus to an increase in babies born with microcephaly (smaller than normal skull).
              In addition to the risk mentioned above WHO have reported that Zika symptoms may include mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
              In line with the above, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip to Central and South America.
              At this stage, WHO is not recommending any travel or trade restrictions related to the Zika virus.
              More information on the Zika virus can be found at the following links:
              World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/
              Travel insurance
              Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

              When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

              If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

              http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
              A couple of rules
              Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

              Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
              Responsible Travel
              We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

              http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

              Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.

              The Intrepid Foundation
              Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

              The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

              http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

              The Intrepid Foundation currently supports Casaito in Guatemala - Central America:
              * CasaSito provides educational opportunities in rural areas of Guatemala for children living in poverty. Guatemala has a very high level of illiteracy, particularly in rural areas which lack schools and educational resources. Our support is for their scholarship program, helping keep children in school.
              www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/casasito/


              Feedback
              After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

              http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback