This classic tour follows the well-trodden travellers’ path from Belize to Honduras via Guatemala. From the Mayan majesty of Tikal and Xunantunich to colonial Antigua and Flores, cruising down the Rio Dulce and getting adventurous in San Ignacio, it’s pretty special
Just 45 minutes by ferry from entry point Belize City (fly from the UK to Miami then it’s a two hour onward flight) is Caye Caulker. The tiny island’s laid-back Caribbean vibe makes it feel a world away. Spend three nights relaxing on the gorgeous beaches, refuelling on seafood after snorkelling trips and occasional refreshing dips in the idyllic waters.
Cayo a go-go
Plan a two-night stop in San Ignacio, known as ‘Cayo’ to locals. This is Belize’s adventure capital and you could spend weeks exploring the area’s caves and jungles, swimming in rivers and waterfalls, and admiring the wildlife. Popular activities range from kayak trips to exploring the local cave systems, either tubing though them or paddling/swimming, as with the Actun Tunichil Muknal or ‘ATM’ caves, a site of ceremony and sacrifice in Mayan times. While in the area, consider visiting Belize’s chief Mayan site, Xunantunich, which is refreshingly clear of the crowds drawn to some of the better-known Mayan sites in the region, such as Tikal. It’s easily accesible via a cable ferry across the Mopan River.
Leaving Belize behind, it’s time to cross the border and make the short hop to Flores, your base for visiting Tikal, known for its enormous step pyramid. Set on an island in Lake Petén Itzá, Flores, with its colourful houses and cobbled streets, is worthy of exploration. Next, the town of Rio Dulce, for a picturesque tour down the river to Livingston. This area is known for its scenic qualities, not least the point where the river empties into Amatique Bay, an area with a rich Caribbean feel and home to the Garifuna people.
Moving on to the beguiling colonial city of Antigua — a two-night stay gives a good taste of the area’s attractions. Antigua is a pleasant city to walk around, browsing the local market and souvenir shops.
Honduras or home?
If you’ve got more time, continue on to Honduras. Spend a few nights in Copán, six hours drive from Guatemala City, where the star attraction are the impressive Mayan ruins plus horse rides, coffee tours and the local hot springs. Follow up with two more nights of Caribbean charm at one of the Bay Islands such as Roatán before flying to the capital Tegucigalpa with Avianca, and then home.
How to do it
Tucan Travel’s 15-day Wonders of Guatemala, Honduras and Belize tour starts at £2,649pp bed and breakfast, including a coffee farm tour, guided tour of Copan and boat ride down the Rio Dulce to Livingston, but no flights. tucantravel.com