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Guatemalan Highlands Tour
February 8th, 9th & 10th
Ancient Maya Ruins Tour
February 11th & 12th
 
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   Post Symposium Excursions / Ancient Maya Ruins

         
 
Day 1 - Sunday, February 11th
 
 

In the morning we leave Guatemala City to fly 45 minutes to Guatemala’s northern province of Petén.
We land at the international airport at Flores, on the shores of Lake Petén Itzá. We drive along the lake to the Hotel Villa Maya, an ecological resort on a private nature reserve, filled with tropical birds and animals. The hotel lies on the shores of two lagoons (Petenchel and Monifata), part of a chain of lakes and lagoons, all fed underground, that run from Petén Itzá east to the Lagoon of Yaxhá near the border of Belize.

After lunch at the hotel and the chance for a dip in the pool, we are off to the archaeological site of Yaxhá (one hour). The site of Yaxhá covers 143 square miles (370 sq. km.) of natural rainforest reserve. The jungle reaches the shores of the Yaxhá Lagoon. Small paths lead you through the high trees to the different ruined structures, many still covered with a tangle of roots. The largest temples have been cleared and energetic climbers will have plenty of opportunity for a workout. From the highest temple the view stretches over blue water and green canopy. We are privileged to have as our guide Federico Fahsen, Guatemala’s foremost epigrapher and head of the Protect Yaxhá project.

Those too tired to climb yet another temple can take their rest on the shore of the lake. As they wait for the more active set, they can sip iced tea, eat Guatemala’s traditional champurrada cookies, and listen to the songs of migratory birds.

As the afternoon draws to a close, the probability is high of seeing parrots fly overhead and hearing the throaty roar of howler monkeys. It could also be that what your eyes see as an old log floating in the water is actually a crocodile looking for supper. By evening we are back at our hotel where we can relax, swim, have a drink at the bar and dinner (included) in the open air restaurant. Federico Fahsen will give us a talk on the ins and outs of the intellectual journey of interpreting Maya hieroglyphics.

 
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Day 2 - Monday, February 12th
 
 

For the Maya, red is the color of the east, symbol of rebirth and renewal. For early birds feeling “reborn and renewed” after their first night in the rainforest, we offer a unique chance to experience the jungle and its inhabitants come alive at dawn, while seated among ancient ruins.

Before sunrise we will take you by bus to the 222 square mile (575 sq. km.) National Park of Tikal located in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, the largest continuous rainforest in Central America. On the thirty-minute drive you can fortify yourself with a “box breakfast.”

Those for whom “rebirth and renewal” arrive after dawn can take their breakfast lakeside at the hotel and then go by bus to meet up with the early birds at Tikal.

Tikal is filled with huge temples to honor dead kings, storage houses and reservoirs to get through the dry season, ceremonial ball courts and twin pyramid plazas, and a labyrinthine palace to house royalty. In the park, we will move in small groups, each with a guide. For botany fans, a specialized guide will explain the infinite diversity of plant life.

Of course, Federico Fahsen will be with us. He will be stationed in the central plaza, in the shadow of two colossal temples, where he will be available to all. We will be served a hearty lunch inside the park. After lunch we will visit the Sylvanus Morley Museum, home to jade, bone and ceramic treasures unearthed in royal tombs, as well as several intricately carved limestone stelae.  

Late afternoon we fly back to Guatemala City and the Quinta Real Hotel. A perfect finish to your Guatemala travel adventures!

 
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Day 3 - Tuesday, February 13th
 
 
American buffet breakfast included at hotel. Transfer to Guatemala City airport.
 
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