Guatemala and Belize holiday

“Two week small group tour overland with one domestic flight from Guatemala City to Flores. Varied cultural and active itinerary from ruined Mayan temples to Caribbean coral reefs.”

Highlights

Guatemala City | Chichicastenango market town | San Juan La Laguna | Scenic lake boat ride | Antigua | La Azotea coffee plantation | San Vicente Pacaya | Volcano hike on Pacaya | Flores | Tikal Mayan ruins | Actun Tunichil Muknal cave | San Ignacio, Belize | Blue Hole National Park | Caye Caulker | Hol Chan Marine Reserve snorkelling safari | Optional trip to Great Blue Hole, Belize Barrier Reef |

Description of Guatemala and Belize holiday

This two week small group tour of Guatemala and Belize brings travellers the very best of both with a mix of Mayan and colonial cultural heritage creating a fascinating back story on both sides of the border.

First stop, Guatemala where you’ll head out of Guatemala City in search of volcanic slopes, coffee plantations and traditional handicrafts in lakeside villages, such as San Juan La Laguna. No trip to Guatemala is complete without tracing cultural threads back in time to the step pyramids and ceremonial temples of the Mayans.

A domestic flight from Guatemala City to Flores makes short shrift of distances and also paves the way for a visit to one of Central America’s most important archaeological sites, the jungle ruined temple complex of Tikal. This is the perfect place to complete the first leg of this holiday before crossing the border into Belize from where San Ignacio, Blue Hole National Park and the Caribbean coral of Caye Caulker complete this two week tour in style.

Travel Team

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Date
Price
Basis
10 Nov 2019
£3429
including UK flights
8 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 10 Nov 2019 departure
01 Dec 2019
£3429
including UK flights
8 spaces left
Click here to enquire about or book the 01 Dec 2019 departure
Vouchers
Accepted
Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Guatemala and Belize holiday

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Accommodation and Meals:
On this trip we stay in a variety of hotels that are committed to employing local staff and using local produce wherever possible. This ensures that the local community directly benefits from our visit, creates job opportunities for the locals and at the same time preserves their heritage and culture. When meals are not provided, our local guides will encourage and recommend clients to visit local restaurants and cafes to try local dishes.

Local craft and culture:
There are plenty of opportunities to support local craft. In the town of Chichicastenango, we get to explore a market where many of the vendors represent the linguistic groups of Mam, Lxil and Kaqchikel who’s thriving culture and traditions has been preserved for centuries. At the market clients can purchase handicrafts like textiles, wooden boxes, masks and pottery. In San Juan, we visit a textile cooperative that allows women to showcase their craft in hand weaving, embroidery works and jewellary pieces. This is a great opportunity to engage with the locals, foster cultural exchange and support their craft.

During the trip, clients may have the chance to try on traditional clothing worn by indigenous women in Guatemala, namely tocoyal and huipils. These traditional Maya textiles are crafted by highly skilled weavers with design and pattern that usually represents nature. It takes a high level of craftmanship and not only does it serve as a functional garment, it is also a way of showing status and region. Clients can show support by purchasing the huipil which is similar to a tunic with intricate embriodery patterns and of great cultural value. Of course, our local guides will advise clients on what can be purchased and what to avoid as products made from endangered animal parts such as tortoiseshell and exotic feathers should never be purchased and will be confiscated when leaving the country.

Conservation:
Our local operator actively works with local communities and non-profit organizations that focus on ecotourism and conservation as a catalyst for sustainable development. They are an active member of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and sit on the Board of Advisors of Oceanic Society. They are also working with a local non-profit association, REDES (Restauración Ecológica y Desarrollo A.C), who are dedicated to improve and restore the relationship between society and nature through the promotion and execution of programs and projects on conservation and ecological restoration. Through this collaboration, they not only support conservation efforts but also educate consumers and partners on critically endangered species in Mexico.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help clients understand how they can help reduce their impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from our visit.

Group Size:
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.

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