This document contains essential information that you need to prepare for, as well as information you will need during your holiday with us.
We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.
AT A GLANCE
Trip Code: PSMG
Length: 9 days
Starts: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Finishes: Antigua City, Guatemala
Location: Mexico, Belize & Guatemala
“I’ve travelled to Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu but I have to say that the ruins at Tikal topped them both. We visited at dawn when you could see animals such as coatimundi, agouti and spider monkeys emerging from the jungle. This was pretty magical in itself, but being able to climb on the ruins made me feel like a real explorer. The fact that there were so few other tourists, combined with our fantastic guide who had a wealth of knowledge, really brought the sites to life.” Claire Baxter, Destination Manager North & Central America.
Why We Love It:
- This is our most comprehensive tour in Mexico and Central America.
- Having explored Mexico City and the great ruins of Teotihuacan we discover the delights of Puebla and Oaxaca.
- From Monte Alban we visit the ruins of the Zapotec capital before continuing southward to the town of San Cristobal, complete with its traditional Indian communities.
- The magnificent Palenque Mayan ruins are next and then comes the Yucatan Peninsula with stops in Merida and the Mayan sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza.
- Having discovered ritzy Cancun and the sun-drenched beaches of the Caribbean we continue via the stunning seaside ruins of Tulum to Tikal, deep in the Guatemalan jungle.
- The final part of our journey takes us to Antigua and the beautiful Guatemalan Highland towns of Panajachel and Chichicastenango – home to one of the most colourful weekend markets in Central America.
Day 1: Playa del Carmen
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. The day will be free until a welcome meeting at around 6pm. Check with the hotel reception for details. There is often adinner arrnaged for those interested after the orientation.
- 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.
- 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.
Day 2-3: Tulum - Caye Caulker
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
- You will venture to the cliff-top ruins of Tulum today. From the crumbling walls of the city ruins, you will enjoy breathtaking views across the coastline of the Carribean below.
- Dating back to to the year 1200, these ruins are quite young by Mayan standards.
- The largest of the temples here is Castillo. Once coated in stucco, painted and decorated with masks, this temple has also served as a fortress.
- Temple of the Winds is perched over the water, and is reputed whistle when a hurricane approaches as a warning.
- From here you will get back on the minibus and travel to Chetumal, where you'll catch a water taxi to the island of Caye Caulker.
- ust a short boat ride from the coast is the island group of the Belize Cayes.
- You will be based at one of the more popular of the many islands here, Caye Caulker. From here you can arrange day trips to other Caye if you are in search of the best reefs for diving. You will notice that each of the islands has its own character, but there is an unmistakable Carribean charm about all of them. You may also choose to take a local boat out to the reef of Caulker itself.
- There is a half-day of snorkelling on the reef included in your trip, where you will most likely see sharks, rays, fish and coral. You can upgrade this to a full-day snorkelling package at an additional cost if you wish - where you might also see turtles and manatees.
- Spend the afternoon sipping cocktails overlooking the water, swimming off the Split, or perhaps shopping for local souvenirs.
Day 4-5: San Ignacio
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
- You will stop at the Belize Zoo on the way to San Ignacio today.
- The zoo was initially designed as a tool to teach the Belizean people about local animals and the benefits of conservation of their habitats. Though the zoo is quite small, all of the animals here are local, including jaguars, ocelots, toucans, harpy eagles and crocodiles.
- From the zoo you will head on to San Ignacio (approx. 3 hours). It is situated in the highlands, and is surrounded by forest, waterfalls, rivers, and Mayan ruins, a beautiful place in its own right, and a great base for uncovering the beauty and history of the area.
- You will have a free day here, with some optional activies available for those who are interested. You may like to go on a day trip the impressive Mayan ceremonial centre, Xunantunich, where you can enjoy expansive views across the surrounding countryside. There is also a unique stucco frieze on the east side of the temple. Part of the joy of this optional trip is the hand-cranked ferry ride across the river.
- You might prefer to spend a day exploring the Mountain Pine Ridge area - a region blessed with beautiful waterfalls, a remarkable cave system, and swimming holes. Tunichil Muknal is possibly the most intriguing of the caves in the area, it is essentially a living museum. You can wade into the cave through water to discover fasinating rellics, including crystallised skeletons and ceremic pots preserved naturally by the cave for over 1400 years.
- If you fancy a more adventurous day, canoeing or tubing through the jungle can also be arranged. Those seeking a more peaceful and relaxing experience might enoiy San Ignacio's butterfly garden.
Day 6: Tikal
Meals included: 1 breakfast
- You will continue by minibus to Tikal today.
- Home to some of the most magnificent Mayan ruins, the Tikal National Park is awash with wonder. The five granite temples of Tikal tower above the impressive jungle canopy, while a veritable feast of smaller structures remain hidden among the jungle growth. There are over 3000 structures in total, which once housed over 100,000 people. You will be taken to see the highlights of the area.
- For those who are interested, climbing to the top of the ruins will provide you with unsurpassed views over the jungle, you may even glimpse of a toucan or macaw.
- You will stay overnight in the park, before a dawn tour of the ruins.
Day 7-9: Tikal - Antigua
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
- You will continue on to the central mountains and Antigua Guetemala today. A beautifully preserved UNESCO World Heritage site, Antigua is home to a plethora of Spanish Baroque architecture and ruined churches. Once the capital of Spanish Guatemala, today Antigua is a town of over 30,000 people nestled between three towering volcanoes. The captial was moved to Guatemala City after the earthquakes of 1773.
- It is a very popular stop for travellers because of its historical relics, as well as the pleasant ambience and vibrancy of the local people. There are a number of interesting markets, restaurants and cafes; be sure to try the famous Guatemalan coffee! It is also a place renowned for its many Spanish language schools. There is no shortage of things to do and places to discover during your time here.
- You will visit a women's cooperative while you are in town. Founded in 1992, the coopoerative is an independent, grassroots organisation designed to assist community development, health, education, clean water and income generation. Skills like cooking, weaving and textiles are employed by the women here to demonstrate traditional crafts.
- Your trip will come to an end on Day 9 after breakfast.
- Local tour leader
- Local guides
- Arrival transfer
- Sightseeing and entrance fees
Most meals are included on your trip (except for North America trips - please refer to your day-to-day itinerary). However, sometimes we think you'll benefit from getting out and discovering the local cuisine. So when a meal is not included, it's a great opportunity to try something new. For group trips, ask your leader for tips on where to get the best meal, or you might decide to dine out as a group and experience the fun together.
- Airport departure tax
- Visas where required
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Any optional tours or activities during free time
- Tips and items of a personal nature
- Daily budget
We have chosen some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. For group trips, speak to your leader if you are interested in any of the following:
- Antigua-The Pacaya volcano
Vaccinations may be required for this trip. Talk to your doctor about the up-to-date information for this region.
It is your responsibility to ensure you have all required visas for your trip. Rules and regulations governing the issuance of visas are constantly changing, and vary for different nationalities and you should check visa requirements with your travel agent or relevant consular authority well before travel.
Australians, Americans, British, Canadian and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Belize. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent. A migration fee of USD20 is payable at the border on departure from Belize. Please ensure you check the validity dates on your passport stamp at the border.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Guatemala. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Mexico. For all other nationalities please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent.
You are required to have travel insurance before heading off on any of our trips. Insurance can be organised by any of our travel consultants.
Important - A Word on Central America
Central America is different and that’s what makes it such an fascinating destination. You will find that things don’t always go according to plan or work the way they do back home. Buses and planes often run late and sometimes the water in your bathroom can run cold and the electricity fail. The locals live with these issues everyday. In order to get the most out of your holiday, a degree of patience, good humour and understanding is a definite advantage. If you approach your holiday with an open and enquiring mind, the warm welcome you receive from Central Americans will ensure you a rich and rewarding holiday experience.
Public Holiday Inconveniences
Please be prepared for the inconvenience of sights such as museums and churches being closed to tourists on public holidays (ie. Christmas Day and New Years Day). Throughout Latin America, most museums also tend to be closed on Mondays.
Where possible transportation provided will be air-conditioned, however it will not always be available, particularly in Guatemala.
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.
- It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
- We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Your feedback is important to us and to our tour guides and helps shape the quality of our trips. It tells us what we're doing right, what you believe could be done better and what improvements you feel could help future travellers choose and enjoy Imaginative Traveller. Just go to http://on.fb.me/16wYISa for our easy to fill out form. We’d love to hear what you have to say!
ABOUT THIS INFORMATION
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
7 April 2014