Below part of the VegiVentures Brochure/Itinerary, with my photos interspersed:-
THE MAYAS PAST & PRESENT
17 February - 7 March 2007
Day 1 Flight UK – Guatemala City. Transfer to the hotel in Antigua, Hotel Lazos Fuertes.
The flights were long and no fun but there was a reward;
Antigua, a UNESCO World heritage site.
Day 2 Free day to explore the beautiful old colonial city of Antigua, a UNESCO World heritage site. You may visit some of the ruins of the old convents and monasteries that were destroyed by an earthquake at the end of the 18th century, relax in the square or shop for handicrafts at the artisans’ market.
Day 3 Today, leaving Antigua behind, we drive to the highland town of Chichicastenango (2 ½ hours), where Maya traditions are very much alive. We shall visit the Church that was built on an old sacred site and where up to this date the Maya perform their rites. We carry on our journey to the beautiful Lake Atitlán (1 hour) framed by volcanoes and another centre of Maya culture. P.M. free to walk along the lakeside promenade, enjoy the fine scenery or shopping. Overnight in Panajachel. Hotel K’amol B’ey.
Day 4 In the morning we shall take a boat to the small Kakchiquel Maya community of Santa Cruz (20 minutes) where we shall stay the next two nights at the indigenous school Na’oj Mayab’. Our host is Don Domingo Quino, director of the school and Maya ritual specialist. We shall visit a crafts project run by the local women, interact with the school children and later have a Maya ceremony performed for our protection by Don Domingo. Na’oj Mayab’.
Day 5 Tour of Lake Atitlán by boat, visiting the Tzutuhil Maya community of Santiago de Atitlán and their most important shrine, the statue of Maximón, guarded by the brotherhoods. We also visit the tranquil village of San Marcos de la Laguna which has developed into a Centre for the alternative and esoteric communities. In the afternoon we return to Santa Cruz to watch a traditional Maya ball game at the school. Na’oj Mayab’
Day 6 We leave the beautiful scenery of Lake Atitlán behind and return to Antigua visiting the archaeological site of Iximché, the old Kakchiquel capital on the way (3 ½ hours). Hotel Lazos Fuertes.
Day 7 We set off very early in the morning to cross the border with Honduras today (6 hours), to visit one of the most interesting Maya sites, Copán, which is often described as the Baroque site of the Mayas. Guided Tour of these fabulous ruins and if time allows we may explore a short rainforest trail. Overnight in Copán Ruinas. Hotel to be defined. Picnic Lunch.
Day 8 We return to Guatemala and visit the Maya site of Quiriguá (3 hours), once dominated by Copán, which is famous for its tall inscribed stone stelae. After lunch we continue our journey to Río Dulce at Lake Izabal (2 hours), passing the huge banana plantations established by the United Fruit Company at the end of the 19th century. In Río Dulce we board a small boat with outboard motor for our 1 hour trip to the Garífuna enclave of Livingston on the Caribbean coast. Hostal La Casa de Doña Alida.
Day 9 Excursion to the natural beauty spot of ‘Siete Altares’ where you may dip into natural pools in the river and to ‘Playa Blanca’, a white sand beach with coconut palms, where we enjoy the warm Caribbean sea. This is a day to relax and to enjoy the laid back atmosphere of the Garífuna in Livingston. Hostal La Casa de Doña Alida.
Day 10 Today we return by boat along the Río Dulce to Lake Izabal where we board our bus again and continue our journey to the northern lowlands region of El Petén (4 hours). We shall base ourselves in the small and tranquil village of El Remate on the shores of the Petén Itzá Lake. Casa Mobego.
Day 11 We rise before dawn to drive into the National Park of Tikal (1/2 hour) to spend most of the day on our guided tour of one of the most superb classical Maya sites, located in the middle of the rainforest, one of the highlights of this trip and another world heritage site. Casa Mobego.
Day 12 Free day to relax. You may want to explore the trails of the nearby Nature Reserve of Biotopo Cerro Cahui (X) to enjoy the panoramic views over Lake Petén Itzá and try spotting some black howler monkeys, spider monkeys and different birds or you may prefer to go horse riding (X), dip into the lake or just chill out. Casa Mobego
Day 13 Today we return to Tikal to give you another opportunity to explore this great place in your own time, climbing some of the temple pyramids, taking photos or exploring the abundant wildlife on the trails. You may also opt to visit the two museums on site. Casa Mobego
Day 14 We leave early in the morning to explore the more remote and lesser known Classical Maya ceremonial site of Yaxhá where we shall also perform another offering with Don Domingo Quino who will join us here. Free afternoon. Casa Mobego
Day 15 Today we leave El Petén behind and drive to the cloud forest area of Los Verapaces to reach the old ‘imperial city’ of Cobán. (5 hours). Here we visit the orchid nursery Vívero Verapaz, an unforgettable experience for any plant lover as there are dozens of different species in bloom. Hotel La Posada.
Day 16 We return to Antigua (4-5 hours), where we can relax in the afternoon. Hotel Lazos Fuertes.
Day 17 A.M. excursion to the organic macadam nut farm of Valhalla where you can enjoy a nutty breakfast in the garden with the subsequent visit of the Casa K’ojom in Jocotenango, to see the fine museum of traditional Maya musical instruments and dress, and where you may also visit the small coffee museum and enjoy a fresh cuppa at the end. Free afternoon for relaxing and shopping. Hotel Lazos Fuertes.
Day 18 Transfer to the international airport of Guatemala City with a visit to the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in the capital en route. If time allows you may also pop into the Museum of Modern Art opposite (X). End of all service.