Guatemala to Belize: Local Traditions & Tropical Wildlife

11 days Nature & Wildlife, Multi-country
Sharing both a border and deep cultural connections to the mysterious Mayans, Guatemala and Belize are world-renowned biodiversity hot spots. As you travel through the Guatemalan highlands and explore the ancient ruins of Tikal and Yaxha, you’ll experience the dramatic environments for which each country is known, learning cultural traditions from the people whose lives unfold there. there.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Tour group size: 10 - 14 travelers

Tour pace: You will walk for about 3.5 hours daily across uneven terrain, including unpaved trails, cobblestone streets and slippery walkways, with some hills.

Let us handle the details

Expert Tour Director

      Local       cuisine

Handpicked hotels

Sightseeing with local guides

Private transportation

Personalized flight options

Your tour includes

  • 10 nights in handpicked hotels

  • Breakfast daily, 3 lunches, 7 three-course dinners, some with beer or wine

  • Multilingual Tour Director

  • Boat and private motor coach transfers

  • Guided sightseeing and select entrance fees

Map of tour of Guatemala and Belize

Antigua 1 night Hotel info

Day 1: Travel day

  Included meals: Dinner

Welcome to Guatemala! After you arrive in Guatemala City, travel to your hotel in Antigua and get settled in.

Lake Atitlán Region 2 nights Hotel info

Day 2: Sightseeing tour of the Lake Atitlán Region

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Travel to the Lake Atitlán Region to explore its small towns and villages on today’s guided tour. 

• Barter with merchants at the famous Chichicastenango market 

• Explore Panajachel’s beautiful lakeshores and artisan markets 

• Speed through the streets in a tuk-tuk, a small three-wheeled taxi 

Later, join your fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of San Juan la Laguna

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Cruise along the lake to San Juan la Laguna and tour the island with a local guide from the Rupalaj K’istalin Association. 

• Visit the village and meet the community’s artisans 

• Watch textile spinning and weaving demonstrations, then try it yourself

Antigua 2 nights Hotel info

Day 4: Transfer to Antigua

  Included meals: Breakfast

Travel back to Antigua by bus, then explore the UNESCO-recognized city with a local guide leading the way. 

• Pass the Santa Catalina Arch, once used by nuns to cross the road undisturbed

• View Parque Central and admire the beautiful facade of La Merced Church, decorated with ornate ataurique plasterwork

Day 5: De La Gente coffee plantation tour

  Included meals: Breakfast

Visit a coffee plantation in Ciudad Vieja and learn about sustainable farming.

• Tour the farm and try your hand at picking coffee beans

• Visit the farmer’s home for a demonstration of sorting, roasting and grinding coffee beans

• Taste the freshly brewed coffee and  bring home your own one-pound bag

Flores 2 nights Hotel info

Day 6: Sightseeing tour of Yaxha

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Fly to Flores and tour the Yaxha archeological site with a local guide.

• Travel through Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park

• See the sun set over the magnificent Mayan ruins, pyramids and plazas

Day 7: Sightseeing tour of Tikal archaeological site

  Included meals: Breakfast

Take a sunrise tour of the city’s UNESCO-recognized ruins. Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Mayans as you explore the great plaza, pyramids and temples in the heart of the rainforest with a local guide. Then, enjoy a free afternoon in Flores or add an excursion.

Optional Excursion - Zipline & Canopy Tour $39pp* Details

Fly through the lush rainforest canopy as you zipline around Ixpanpajul Natural Park. You’ll make your way through the trees, and learn about the wide variety of exotic plant and animal species that live in the preserve.

Save $10 when you book this excursion up to 3 days before your tour departs. (On-tour price: $49)

Rio Dulce 1 night Hotel info

Day 8: Rio Dulce & the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Leave early this morning to head toward Rio Dulce. Explore the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara, the Spanish colonial fort at the entrance of Lake Izabal, before joining your group for dinner.

Punta Gorda 2 nights Hotel info

Day 9: Belize via Rio Dulce cruise

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Embark on a half-day journey by boat down the Rio Dulce, sailing toward the Caribbean Sea. 

• Take a dip at a community hot spring 

• Stop in Livingston, a town only accessible from the river

• Learn about local Garifuna culture

• Board a ferry to Punta Gorda, Belize

• Arrive at the Cotton Tree Lodge in time to learn about local ecology

Day 10: Cacao farm tour with local farmer

  Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Meet Eladio Pop, a local cacao farmer, and tour his organic farmland.

• Learn about Eladio’s conservation efforts

• Taste fresh cacao fruit, sugarcane and other just-picked treats

• Eat a home-cooked lunch with Eladio and his family

• Learn the art of chocolate making from Eladio’s daughter and sample the results

Later, join your group for a farewell dinner at the Cotton Tree Lodge.

Day 11: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to Belize International Airport for your flight home or extend your stay to further explore Belize.

Add Coastal Belize Starting from $599 pp

Please note: Extension is not available on all departure dates.

Hopkins 2 nights Hotel info

Day 11: Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

  Included meals: Breakfast

Travel to the beachy eastern coast of Belize to tour the world’s only jaguar reserve with a local guide.

• Explore the lush mountainside trails in search of the elusive jaguars

• Spot pumas, coati, Brocket deer, endangered birds and more  

• Learn about the reserve’s flora and fauna

Day 12: Free day in Hopkins

  Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Enjoy a full free day in Hopkins before rejoining your group for dinner.

Day 13: Departure

  Included meals: Breakfast

Transfer to Belize International Airport for your flight home.

How's the weather?

  • Antigua, Guatemala
  • Lake Atitlan
  • Flores, Guatemala
  • Rio Dulce, Guatemala
  • Punta Gorda, Belize
Temperature Precipitation
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

Passport & visa requirements

  • In order to enter Guatemala and Belize, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.
  • We recommend having at least two blank passport page for entry stamps.
  • There is no visa required for U.S. or Canadian citizens.
  • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.

Tour pace

  • You will walk for about 3.5 hours daily across uneven terrain, including unpaved trails, cobblestone streets and slippery walkways, with some hills.
  • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance. Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.
  • You should feel comfortable managing your own baggage at times, as well as getting in and out of small boats.
  • If you have any mobility concerns or physical restrictions, please contact our Customer Experience Team.        

Transportation & arrival information

  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead arrive in Guatemala City and depart from Belize City. A Go Ahead representative will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel. Please remain in the arrival lounge, as the representative might be escorting one of your fellow travelers to the bus at the time of your arrival.
  • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead for an additional cost. *  A flight from Guatemala City to Flores and boat rides at Lake Atitlán and Rio Dulce are included in the price of your tour.
  • All other included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach.      

Baggage allowance

  • Airlines have varying weight restrictions on baggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs.
  • Contact your airline for detailed information regarding baggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other transfers, which may include train connections or flights.
  • One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height).
  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.            

Clothing & packing tips

  • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. Comfortable, casual clothing, a lightweight jacket and a sturdy pair of walking shoes are a must for sightseeing.
  • Waterproof shoes or sandals, a swimsuit, sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended for daily activities.
  • Binoculars are handy for a closer look at local wildlife and scenery.
  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
  • It is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (and entrance may be denied on this basis).        

Health

  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov.
  • Take proper care with sun exposure, as the sun can be especially strong in some of the regions on this tour.
  • Drink bottled water only. Refrain from ingesting tap water, including when brushing your teeth.
  • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless they’re cooked or washed in clean water and peeled.
  • Travelers prone to seasickness should note that this tour includes several boat transfers.
  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour and any possible delays encountered.
  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies please notify Go Ahead at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to My Account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please call our Customer Experience Team.           

Cuisine

  • Guatemalan cuisine is inspired by both Mayan and Spanish traditions, and most meals are centered around staples such as rice and beans, stews and seasoned meats. Don't miss the tamales, dough filled with meat or fruits and wrapped in green maxan leaves. Traditional treats include arroz con leche, tres leches cakes and locally grown fruits, such as mango, papaya, banana and avocado. Coffee lovers will want to sample Guatemala's world-class brew.
  • Belize’s culinary influences derive from Spanish, Mexican, African, Caribbean and Mayan cultures. While staples such as rice, beans, corn and fruit are involved in nearly every meal, seafood is the shining star. Lobster, shrimp and fish can be found on most menus. Local fruits like pineapples, mangos and melons are abundant and fresh. For dessert, you’re likely to find favorites like bread pudding and flan.

Electricity & air conditioning

  • Guatemala operates on 120 volts and uses Types A or B plugs with two flat pins or two flat pins and one round pin, respectively.
  • Belize operates on 110/120 volts and uses Types A, B or G plugs with two flat pins, two flat pins and one round pin or three flat pins, respectively.
  • The strength of the air conditioning in some hotels in this region may not be as strong or as cool as what you might be used to in the U.S. or Canada. When air conditioning is available, it is usually regulated seasonally and controlled centrally by the hotel.
  • Your hotels may provide hairdryers, irons and other small appliances. However, these amenities cannot be guaranteed.

Connectivity

  • Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply. In more remote locations, internet access may be limited and is not guaranteed.
  • There is no Wi-Fi on any of the motor coaches
  • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.

Time zones

  • Guatemala and Belize are six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and one hour behind Eastern Standard Time (EST). These countries do not observe Daylight Saving Time.
  • When it’s noon in New York City, it’s 11am on tour from March through November and 10am from April through October.  

Currency

  • You will use the Guatemalan quetzal in Guatemala and the Belize dollar in Belize.
  • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
  • We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed.
  • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees.
  • Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
  • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.       

Tipping

  • At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $7USD/CAD to $10USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver.
  • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide.
  • Tips can only be paid in cash.      

Purchasing excursions on tour

  • Most optional excursions will be available for purchase while you are on tour.
  • Your Tour Director will only accept cash (in USD only), Visa or MasterCard as payment for excursions.
  • Please be advised that if you pay for an excursion by credit card while on tour, it may take up to three months for your card to be charged.
  • Some optional excursions may only be purchased in advance. See page four of your tour itinerary for more information.

See what our travelers say about this tour—all reviews are authentic and unedited.

Have you been on tour with us? Visit My Account to submit a review.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 11/1/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: CA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Great Tour

Everything Goahead had control over was wonderful. I gave the meals an average rating because - let's face it - that part of the world exists on chicken, beans and rice. So after a while that gets a little old. But when in Rome . . . Our guide Hugo was wonderful and patient and innovative. I will definitely take another trip with these folks. As a matter of fact almost everyone on my trip had used Goahead MANY times before, which I think speaks to the company's overall quality.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Tour Date: 10/31/2014

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: CA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 4 / 5

Experience

I didn't now what to expect going over there my sister talked me in to going. But I'm glad i went had a great time leaned a lot about how the farmers make coffee and chocolate.The accommodations where outstanding I would recommend this tour.

 

Hello! We're so glad you're happy that your sister encouraged you to go on tour. It's great to know that you enjoyed your accommodations and that you came away from tour with a deeper understanding of how local farmers produce coffee and chocolate. Thank you for recommending this tour, and we hope to welcome you on tour again!

Posted by Daniela, Director of Quality Control | September 30, 2016

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 4/3/2014

Number of Past Tours: 8

From: NC

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Cultural Experience

The Guatemala / Belize Eco Tour was filled with amazing sights and sounds. Volcanoes erupting, temples at sunset and dawn, vibrant and noisy birds, howler monkeys, beautiful Mayan clothes, fantastic food, local families / community groups, fascinating chicken buses and beautiful lakes/rivers and the sea. Our guide Hugo was a multi-faceted and fun person – the best. He arranged all of our activities with helpfulness, precision and with an eye to the unique and fun. He could arrange an exciting truck, boat, tuk-tuk or chicken bus (we saw one being created) ride and knew all the birds, flora and fauna on the many jungle trails/waterways – with pictures! Be prepared for lots of walking on rough terrain/large cobblestones and climbing many stairs to access temple sites, if you take the Tikal extension. To see sunsets and sunrises, you need to stay up later and rise very early but it was totally worth it. This is an active tour but there was still time to bask in a pool or have individual time shopping and/or sightseeing. The group was small (7) and added to the closeness and ease of moving around. I’ve been on many of the Go Ahead tours and enjoyed them all. However, this tour was very different with many local and cultural experiences. I was extremely impressed by the people, their hospitality, work ethic and ingenuity. One of my favourite experiences was when a little girl, (Marisol) from a day care facility, spent an hour sitting on our laps while we learned about community programs. Then there was lunch in peoples’ homes that was next on my list. For me, travelling memories are the best when you meet the people and experience their lives. I would recommend this trip to anyone who is interested in personally experiencing the world. To those who asked, “why Guatemala?” I answer “why not? It was wonderful”!

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 4/3/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: FL

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Great tour director, great sites, great food, great experience!

Where to begin? When I originally signed up for this tour, I wasn't sure what to expect exactly. Being my first trip with GoAhead and after reading the previous reviews, I was a little apprehensive but Boy was I pleasantly surprised! Our travel group was small (7) which for me was a plus. Although there were no luxury accommodations, all the hotels were above average. I too wished the stay on Belize beach would have been longer than one day and I think that this could have been easily arranged by making the previous stop shorter. The food was delicious and had no digestive issues even with my dietary restriction. Ground transportation was great, from the private vans to the tuk-tuks, chicken bus, pick up truck and tractor trailer. Water transportation was also unforgettable! We even saw dolphins on our way to Belize! This tour requires some moderate hiking and walking on uneven terrain. Although I did not need the trekking pole I took with me, others found it necessary. If you elect to take the Tikal extension, there is some stair climbing as well. Although it was hazy for the sunrise at Tikal, overall weather was not an issue. Nights were cool and days were warm/hot. Our guide, Hugo!!!! He is knowledgable, shared great stories, was very patient and also accommodating. He definitely made this trip so much more enjoyable since he is so easy going and so patient! Overall this was a great experience and can't rave enough about it. Guatemala is a beautiful country and has so much to offer. I am glad to have supported their local economy even if it was in a small part.

4 / 5

4 / 5

Tour Date: 2/20/2014

Number of Past Tours: 6

From: AZ

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

What a wild experience!

This was our first eco-trip, and I really didn't know what to expect. It is a lot more "up close and personal" than most Go Ahead trips because we spend quite a lot of time with the local people. I enjoyed picking coffee and learning how the beans are processed. The ride to the plantation was memorable because we took Tuc-Tucs, a chicken bus, and a pick-up to get there! The Eladio Pop farm was also fascinating, and gave me a better understanding of traditional Mayan life. Our tour guide, David, was excellent. He was flexible with meals and always ready to take advantage of situations that would make our trip more exciting and memorable. Most of the hotels were wonderful and the meals were good. There was a lot of travel, and the trip to Tikal was intense! I looked at my watch the second day and was shocked to see it was only 10AM; we had been on top of the temple before dawn! The guide warned us that we would get sick on this trip, and that was certainly true. At least half of our group had some sort of illness...GI, cold, or some combination. We avoided salads and drank only bottled water, but hey...stuff happens. I wished GoAhead had offered an extended stay in Belize! The hotel there was gorgeous and I would have loved to be able to see the Barrier Reef! One day was just not enough! This is a physically demanding trip! There is uneven terrain, altitude, heat, humidity, and the challenge of getting in and out of boats. I would caution anyone considering this trip to consider his/her level of health and fitness first. The portions of the trip that I enjoyed the most were the ones that required the most stamina: the pre-trip extension to Tikal, the coffee plantation, and the cacao farm. Some members of our group decided to skip the last two of these, and while that is their right, it is also a pity to go so far and miss the best parts! I would also suggest a talk with your doctor so you are prepared with all the prophylactic and OTC medications you might need for a trip like this. I learned a lot on this trip and enjoyed it, but I don't know if I will go on another eco tour. Going green means doing without hair dryers, having occasional power outages and temperamental toilets, and being in a much more rustic environment than one would experience on most GoAhead tours. My 68 year old bones have come to appreciate creature comforts! Some of the "wild and wooly" flavor of the trip contributed to its charm, but honestly, I have very few friends who could handle the physical demands.

1 / 4

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 1/25/2014

Number of Past Tours: 15

From: PA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Excellent Tour Director

This was my fifteenth goahead tour and David was the best tour director. He had vast knowledge of all subject matter, was incredibly organized, caring and had a wonderful personality. He made this a superior trip. The eco trips we took to the coffee and cocoa farms were outstanding. It was enlightening to see how local farmers operate rather than the large conglomerates you see on similar tours. The beach resort in Belize was fabulous. I would add an extra day there.

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 1/23/2014

Number of Past Tours: 29

From: NH

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Outstanding Eco Tour

Our Tour Director, David, made this an outstanding Eco Tour. He is very knowledgeable about Mayan History, Natural History, and the cultural aspects of both Guatemala and Belize. David was excellent with logistics. We learned and experienced so much. I have been to Guatemala several times in the past and highly recommend this tour. To take part in this tour, you should be in good physical condition. Age is not a barrier as we had two participants in their 80s and several in their 70s. You do need to wear hiking boots and I highly recommend using a hiking pole if you want to enjoy this tour fully and safely. We spent time getting in and out of boats which takes some dexterity. How else would we travel on the Rio Dulce and into the Caribbean to arrive in Belize. You need good raingear. If it is raining while you are traveling by boat, you will get wet. This is all part of the adventure. My favorite saying is "The difference between adventure and adversity is attitude". You need to have a positive attitude on this tour.....and then you will enjoy it as much as I and the rest of my group did. The itinerary posted by GoAhead needs to be revised. We did not stay in Santiago Atitlan, but in Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. This worked better logistically. The optional Volcano Bird Watching Hike is in the afternoon. This is not the time of day to go birdwatching! However, you will find the hike interesting. This is where you really need your poles and boots! Enjoy this wonderful tour! .

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 1/23/2014

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: MA

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Guatemala/Belize

This was a great trip thanks to our tour director, David. His knowledge of Guatemalan and Belizean history, culture, flora, fauna, was exceptional. He was well organized, flexible, and had a fine sense of humor. The opportunity to see so much of Guatemala and learn about Mayan culture, past (day at Tikal was a high point) and present (San Juan Laguna cooperatives, highland towns, Eladio Pop farm) was important and fascinating. In order to see so much of two countries, there is a lot of time on buses, vans, boats, airplanes (and airports) -- an average of 3-4 hours a day. Jeannie

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 11/9/2013

Number of Past Tours: 2

From: MN

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Amazing Itinerary!

This is an intense tour with a lot of physical demands... but if you're up for that, this tour provides a lot of opportunity to see so many great people and places! We got to eat with a family at Lake Atilan, meet and buy items from ladies in a co-ops making textiles and items from medicinal plants, meet a woman and her children who pick coffee - then go to her home to watch her grind and roast the coffee, meet a man and his family who grow cocoa - then return to his home to drink authentic hot cocoa... the list of what this trip offers is immense. It's an in depth trip with A LOT OF WALKING UP HILLS AND ON UNEVEN TERRAIN! Very cool. David, the tour guide was AMAZING. He kept us all healthy and taught us so much! Amazing trip!

5 / 5

5 / 5

Tour Date: 11/9/2013

Number of Past Tours: 1

From: MN

Tour Director: 5 / 5

Tour Value: 5 / 5

Amazing and ACTIVE tour!

This Guatemala/Belize eco tour was easily the MOST AMAZING vacation I've ever taken! Our Tour Director David was so knowledgeable, the itinerary was intense and in depth, I learned and saw so much! I've never before felt like I was actually helping a community by being a tourist… but by taking this particular eco tour, I I personally helped people out by buying items like blankets, coffee, chocolate directly from the people who made them! This tour is active and intense - and I will DEFINITELY be taking another Goahead Eco Tour soon!