Sun, fun, creatures and culture in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico.

Travel from the cobblestone streets of Antigua, through blissed-out Belize and along the Yucatan Peninsula to the beachside delights of Playa del Carmen on this adventure from the jungles of Guatemala to the beaches of Mexico. Crane your neck to gaze up stone temples with steps that lead into a jungle canopy in Tikal, discover relaxed island life in Caye Caulker and sink your feet into white sands and clear waters in Tulum. 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.


Start
Antigua, Guatemala
Finish
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Destinations
Belize, Guatemala, Mexico
Style
Original
Code
QVSB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Wonder at steep, granite steps that reach into the sky while exploring the temples and monuments of Tikal, the seat of Maya power that collapsed mysteriously in 950 AD

  • Learn a little Spanish during an informal lesson in old-world Antigua, then put it to good use during the rest of your Central American adventure

  • Sip a rum and coke and munch on barbecued seafood with a backdrop of aquamarine waters on Caye Caulker

  • Explore Livingston, a unique riverside town where the local culture is heavily influenced by the Afro-Caribbean Garifuna population

  • Walk along cobblestone streets and shop for local handicrafts in the tiny island town of Flores

  • Finish your adventure in the beachside playground that is Playa del Carmen

Is this trip right for you?

  • The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be really hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours.

  • As this trip covers destinations across three countries, you'll need to make several border crossings. While these are usually straightforward, please prepare to be patient.

  • While your leaders on this trip will bridge any language gaps you have along the way, you'll find meeting locals easier the more Spanish words you know. Attempting to communicate in Spanish is a great way of showing you care.

  • This trip involves some long days of travel, some of it by local transport. This may be a little more rustic than you are used to, but the it's worth it to encounter local life in a real way.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2018 itinerary
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Antigua. Surrounded by three volcanoes, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the city became the tourism hub of Guatemala. Today, the city is filled with coffee shops and international restaurants, and is always buzzing with live music and salsa classes. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you'll meet your tour leader and travel group. 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. If you arrive with time to spare, why not get a taste of local tradition with a chocolate-making workshop in the ChocoMuseo, or perhaps tour some of the coffee or macadamia nut plantations tucked into the hills that surround the city.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Antigua - Chocolate-making workshop - USD25
  • Antigua - Coffee/Macadamia nut plantation tour - USD45
  • Antigua - Salsa lesson (per hour) - USD7
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Some departures of this trip are part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may have started their trip 10 days ago in El Tunco on Explore Central America (QVSPC) or Central America - Coast to Coast (QVSOC). Or perhaps may be continuing on longer itineraries from Playa del Carmen to start the second part of their trip – Guatemala & Costa Rica (QVSAC) or Mayan Adventure (QVSKC). Please contact our sales team if you wish to book or know more information on these longer combination trips.

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 daily from 9 am to 9 pm

Salsa Con Gloria
6calle Poniente #9 LA Sala Bar y Rest, Antigua
+502 4374-1391
As the seat of the Spanish colonial government, Antigua was once the most important city in Central America. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, but many of the colonial-era buildings have been carefully restored and the architecture from its glory days can still be admired. Take an informal Spanish lesson and enjoy a guided wander around the city with your leader in the morning. Walk through the quiet cobblestone streets past heavy, carved-wood entrances, then take the afternoon to explore at your own pace. 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. Otherwise, just grab a coffee from one of the many cafes in central park, sit back and enjoy the beauty of this incredible city. Foodies won't want to miss trying tamales, a local dish usually prepared on the weekend and served in a corn leaf. Pepian – a meal consisting of a rich dark sauce and three meats (chicken, beef and pork) – is also worth a try. Local tip: you'll find the best value food next to the artisan market close to the bus station.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Antigua - Leader-led walking tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Sadly, more than half the population of this beautiful country lives below the poverty line, which may explain why Guatemala has the lowest literacy rate in Central America. This is why The Intrepid Foundation is a proud supporter of CasaSito, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping youth to reach their academic, personal and professional potential.

To learn more about the inspiring work CasaSito does, check out this short video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3KBiGdEcV4w

If you want to help CasaSito support Guatemalan’s youth, you can donate through The Intrepid Foundation.  No amount is too small, and donations are matched dollar-for-dollar by Intrepid. Visit our website to help: theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/casasito
It’s a long day of travel as you make your way to Rio Dulce by private minibus. Depart early for the eight-hour journey, arriving in the middle of the afternoon. Rio Dulce, which means 'Sweet River' in Spanish, refers to both the Guatemalan river that flows from Lago de Izabal (Lake Izabal) to the Caribbean Sea and the town of Fronteras, which sits at the east end of the lake. Upon arrival, the rest of the day is free to enjoy at your leisure. Maybe stretch your legs on a jungle walk, rent a kayak for a bit of exploration or simply curl up in a hammock and enjoy the tropical surrounds.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Use a free day in Rio Dulce to take advantage of the optional activities on offer. Perhaps take a boat ride down the river to Livingston, a laid-back, Afro-Caribbean town that offers a unique taste of Garifuna culture on the shoulder of Guatemala. Located 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Fronteras, the boat ride is quite scenic, taking you past waters clogged with water lillies, tropical forests and a spectacular canyon before arriving in Livingston one and a half hours later. The Garifuna population here are descendants of a community forcibly removed from the Caribbean by the British in the late 18th century. Livingston was one of the towns the displaced Garifuna settled in, and it's relative isolation means the culture has remained undiluted by Guatemalan norms. Spend a little time here and perhaps grab a Garifuna meal like tapou, a creamy soup made with fish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Livingston - River boat trip to Garifuna town
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Travel about four hours to Flores – your base for exploring the Maya ruins of Tikal tomorrow. Upon arrival, enjoy a free afternoon to explore Flores. This tranquil island had a long history before it was colonised by the Spanish in 1697, most significantly as the capital of the Itza people after the fall of Chichen Itza. Perhaps use your free afternoon to wander the town's cobblestone streets, taking in its pastel-coloured buildings and shopping for local handicrafts. It's a tiny island, and walking the whole thing will take less than an hour. At around 4 pm, the lakefront starts to hum with street food vendors, making it a good place to grab a bite and watch the world go by.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Embrace an early start for a guided exploration of Tikal National Park. Among the thick, evergreen jungle are some of the most significant remnants of the ancient Maya civilisation. Wonder at the towering granite temples and other monuments set among the thick, green jungle while pondering the mystery of the ancient city's demise. Spend a few hours playing archaeologist and then say goodbye to Guatemala and head across the border to Belize. As the only English-speaking country in Central America, Belize is a great place to get chatting with locals. You'll reach San Ignacio after a three-hour drive, and since you're leaving tomorrow it's a good idea to plan which optional activities (if any) you want to join before you get there. Nature lovers may be interested in a trip to the Green Iguana Conservation Project, where the scaly beasts are protected. Or perhaps stretch your legs with a short walk to the ruins of Cahal Pech, which was once the residence of a well-heeled Maya family. Tomorrow, you have the option of travelling to Belize City via Actun Tunichil Muknal. In order to take advantage of this optional activity, you will need a group of at least four people, so start asking around now if you’re interested.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tikal National Park - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
Optional Activities
  • San Ignacio - Cahal Pech Ruins (Entrance fee & Transport) - USD10
  • San Ignacio - Xunantunich Ruins (Entrance) - USD10
  • San Ignacio - Iguana Conservation Project (Entrance) - USD9
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
All guests at our hotel in San Ignacio are required to pay an additional charge of USD 20 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 – USD 20 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.
This morning, you can choose whether you would like to pay a visit to the caves of Actun Tunichil Muknal (the ATM cave), relax in San Ignacio or take part in some of the other optional activities on offer. A living museum of Maya relics, the ATM cave system is home to ceramic pots and crystallised skeletons, preserved by the natural processes of the cave for over 1400 years. If you choose to explore the cave system (and it is highly recommended), you’ll spend most of the day there before re-joining your fellow travellers at the water taxi in Belize City. If you do not wish to explore the caves, you’ll leave San Ignacio behind in the late morning and head north to Belize City on a local bus (about 3 hours). There are very few official stops in Belize and the driver will pick up passengers along the way as they hail the bus, so be prepared for a journey that moves in fits and starts. Use this time to make conversation with the person next to you; Belizeans love to talk about their country! Arrive in Belize City and take a one-hour water taxi ride to Caye Caulker. From here, it is possible to arrange day trips to other nearby cayes (islands). Each island has its own unique character, but all of them have an unmistakable Caribbean pace and charm.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Ignacio - Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM Cave - inc. transport, guide and lunch) - USD95
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Good morning! Take a deep breath and let it out, you've got two whole days of sandy shores, crystal waters and no schedule to speak of. The beach is calling, of course, but mybe start your day with a Belizean breakfast classic – the fry jack. These deep fried dough pieces are served up with whatever you like, and they go well with everything from fruit to eggs. Then, maybe explore the calm waters on a stand up paddleboard, or rent a bike for a fairly inexpensive way to explore on land. Just remember to follow the super-relaxed law of the island and 'go slow', no matter what you choose to do. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Caye Caulker - Snorkelling trip (half day) - USD35
  • Caye Caulker - Sunset sail - USD38
  • Caye Caulker - Manatee tour - USD85
  • Caye Caulker - Sea kayaking (half day) - USD25
  • Caye Caulker - Stand up paddle board rental (per hour) - USD25
  • Caye Caulker - Bicycle rental (per day) - USD15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy another free day on beautiful Caye Caulker. Perhaps hire a local boat and head to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley for a chance to snorkel among colourful corals, tropical fish, sharks and manta rays. You could also choose to go manatee-spotting – these huge, peaceful creatures are often 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 can find on the island, but still way less than you'd pay back home! If lobster isn’t available (regulations stipulate lobster can only be caught between June 15 and February 15), 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 (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Rise, shine and shake off the sleep with a 6.30 am water taxi to Belize City. Today you're leaving one paradise behind for another. Hop on a bus and head for the Mexico border, a journey that will take about four hours. Deal with formalities at the border and then continue to Chetumal, where you will swap buses and hit the road again for Tulum (3 hours). A long day of travel will see you arriving in the afternoon with plenty of daylight to spare. Why not use what's left of the day to soak up the sun on one of the city's many beaches? While Paradise Beach is the most well known of the sandy stretches, it can get a little crowded. Las Palmas Public Beach is (in our opinion) just as beautiful, but with far fewer people. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tulum - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Tulum - Archaeological Site (Entrance fee) - MXN65
  • Tulum - Bicycle rental (per day) - MXN185
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a day on the Caribbean coast. The ruins that Tulum is famous for sit on a cliff-top plateau that overlooks the glittering water below. Choose whether to explore the small site, or find a spot on one of the white-sand beaches and get horizontal with a cocktail. This cruisy resort town is stuffed with cafes and restaurants serving up seafood-heavy Mexican fare, often in the great outdoors so you can catch a sea breeze while you eat.  

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance Fee - MXN242
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The last leg of your journey is a short one. Hop on a local Mexican bus and travel about 1.5 hours to Playa del Carmen. With azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city similar to Cancun, but with a less intense party atmosphere. Take a brief orientation stroll with your leader to get your bearings, then take your pick of a bunch of optional activities. Maybe take a snorkel in the fresh waters of Dos Ojos Cenote, a flooded cave system. Or perhaps head further afield on a ferry ride to Cozumel, where the colourful reefs are perfect for scuba diving. If you'd prefer to stay where the margaritas are cold and close by, you might want to rent a bike to explore Playa on two wheels.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Dos Ojos Cenote - Fresh water rock pool (Entrance fee with snorkelling gear included) - MXN350
  • Playa del Carmen - Bicycle rental (per day) - MXN250
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel (Round-trip) - MXN326
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This tropical adventure ends today after breakfast. There are no activities planned for the final day. In order to make the most of all Playa has to offer, we strongly recommend that you extend your stay by a couple of extra days. Please contact us if you need assistance booking additional accommodation.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts

Transport

Private vehicle, Public bus, Local bus, Taxi, Ferry, shared boat

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights)

Included activities

  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Antigua - Leader-led walking tour
  • Livingston - River boat trip to Garifuna town
  • Tikal National Park - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Tulum - Orientation walk
  • Playa del Carmen - Orientation walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. To have a private room on this trip, a single supplement is bookable; subject to availability.
3. Please be careful when booking flights to/from Antigua; make sure you fly into/out of Guatemala City Airport [GUA]. Guatemala City Airport is the closest airport to Antigua. Please do NOT book flights to/from Antigua & Barbuda Airport [ANU] as this is an island in the Caribbean.
4. Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.

Essential trip information

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