- The Mayan Cities of
Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras
Copan - Quirigua - Xunantunich - Yaxha - Caracol - Tikal - Bonampak - Yaxchilán - Piedras Negras - Sak-Tzi - Palenque - Tonina -
An extensive 11 day / 10 night tour visiting 4 Mesoamerican countries: Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. This is a tour through the most important cities built during the Classic Maya, the heyday of the Maya Civilization, the most important archaeological sites, including: Copan, Quirigua, Xunantunich, Yaxha, Caracol, Tikal, Bonampak,
Yaxchilán, Piedras Negras, Sak-Tzi, Palenque and Tonina. Local expert guides, most meals,
comfortable accommodations, A/C touring vehicle and boat transfer between Guatemala and Mexico via the Usumacinta River are all included.
Tour begins on the first and third Saturdays of each month.
This tour begins in Guatemala City, Guatemala and ends in Villahermosa, Mexico 11 days later on Tuesday.
DAY 1 SAT. ARRIVAL TO GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala. Meet at Guatemala City International Airport. Transfer to hotel in Guatemala City finest district. Overnight in Guatemala City.
DAY 2 SUN. COPAN, Honduras. Morning transfer to Copan in Honduras. Visit to Copan Archaeological Site. An UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, Copan was the southernmost major center of lowland Maya civilization and is famed for its artistic sculpture. The great Hieroglyphic Stairway was dedicated in
755 and it bears a continuous text of more than 1250 glyph blocks listing dates and names of the city's Classic Period rulers. Because of its beautiful artwork, unsurpassed in any other Maya city, Copan occupies a special place in the study of the ancient Maya. Visit Copan’s Museum of Maya Sculpture which contains some of the finest examples of Maya sculpture ever found. Dominating the center of the
museum is a full-scale brightly colored replica of the Rosalila Temple which was completed in 571. The ball courts are the playing grounds of an extremely serious sport to the Mayans. These games are believed to have had religious significance: the captain of one team was sacrificed to the gods. Overnight in Copan Town. (B,L)
DAY 3 MON. QUIRIGUA, Guatemala. Transfer to Guatemala’s Caribbean coastal plains, visiting Quirigua en route. Also an UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Site since 1981. This strategically located river city of the Classic Period controlled the important Motagua Valley trade route linking the Caribbean coast with interior
settlements. Remarkably preserved portraits and texts on sandstone stele chronicle a ruling dynasty in competition with nearby Copan. In 738 the ruler Kak Tiliw captured and beheaded Copan's 13th lord, 18 Rabbit. Quirigua is home to the largest stele in the Maya World at 26 feet and 6 inches in height and weighting about 65 tons. Overnight in Flores. (B,L)
DAY 4 TUE.
Guatemala. The third UNESCO’s World Heritage Site of the itinerary and
the first one in the Maya World, since 1979. Intensive construction took
place at Tikal from the late Pre-classic Period until the waning of Classic
Maya civilization around AD 900. At its peak the city covered about 48
square miles and had a population estimated at 55,000. Tikal's Stelae 29 bears
the earliest Long Count date known in the Maya lowlands. In 292 AD
Temple IV, one of the many pyramids erected to memorialize the dead rulers of
Tikal's royal dynasty, and one of the tallest of Maya structures at 212 feet,
was erected. Overnight Flores. (B,L)
DAY 5 WED.
Guatemala and XUNANTUNICH, Belize
First it's to Yaxha
Archaeological Site, the only Maya Classic Site whose name is the same as its
emblem glyph. Known for having a large concentration of massive
buildings and with defined avenues and causeways. It was always an
allied of Tikal. Its location, on the shore of a lake and within the
Maya Biosphere Reserve, makes it unique.
Then transfer to Belize
for the next visit, Xunantunich.
This is an interesting small site with a tall pyramid with an spectacular view
of the San Ignacio valley. Overnight in the Cayo
District of Belize. (B,L)
DAY 6 THU.
CARACOL, Belize. Early morning departure to visit Caracol, one of the largest political, religious and economic centers of the Maya Classic Time. Magnificent and well restored pyramids, the tallest one is named Caana. Caracol is connected through a network of sakbeob with several small sites. In the 7th Century, in an
alliance with Calakmul, Caracol defeated mighty Tikal. Return to
Guatemala for overnight in Flores. (B, L)
DAY 7 FRI.
Mexico. Another World Heritage Site, Palenque is prized for its
well-preserved buildings, carved stucco ornamentation, delicate bas-reliefs
and lengthy hieroglyphic texts. Palenque reached its zenith during the
reign of Pacal the Great (AD 615-683). His tomb in the Temple of the
Inscriptions opened in 1952 and stands as one of the greatest discoveries of
Mayan archaeology. Site and museum. Overnight in Palenque. (B,L)
DAY 8 SAT.
YAXCHILÁN and BONAMPAK, Mexico. Depart early to the Usumacinta River that defines the border between Guatemala and Mexico. After a brief boat ride on the river, visit Yaxchilán in Mexico. Yaxchilán, set above the jungle banks of the river, was first inhabited around 200 AD and the central plaza holds
statues of jaguars and crocodiles. Adventurous travelers will want to climb Yaxchilan's highest temple as the view of the Rio Usumacinta and surrounding jungle is magnificent. Afternoon boat ride to Frontera Corozal Town to continue with a scenic ride into the Lacandon Forest Reserve, home to the Lacandon people and Bonampak Archaeological Park. Bonampak’s ruins are situated around a rectangular
plaza. The southern buildings are well preserved. The "Templo de los Frescos" contains three rooms covered with paintings depicting ancient Maya ceremonies and customs. Overnight at the Valle Escondido Lodge. (B,L)
DAY 9 SUN.
Guatemala. An all terrain vehicle is required to drive through a rural area in Mexico to reach again the Usumacinta River, followed by a short boat ride to visit a hidden jewel of Piedras Negras Archaeological Site in the Guatemalan side of the river. Extensively explored and excavated
during the 1930’s, very little has been done since then, making it the largest unrestored Classic Maya city and a magic place to visit. Every visitor must climb the tallest structure, where Tatiana Proskuriakov
ashes were buried following her will. Overnight at Palenque. (B,L)
DAY 10 MON. TONINA, Mexico. Of
the larger and most important Classic Maya cities, Tonina is the one located
at a higher elevation and its setting in the Chiapas highlands, provides a
unique setting. Remarkable reliefs and impressive structures it is a
great closing for the Maya Classic Tour. Overnight in Palenque. (B,L)
DAY 11 TUE. DEPARTURE FROM VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico. Transfer to Villahermosa International Airport.