Ancient Maya Tour
Archaeological Tours Guatemala – Archaeology Expedition
This 14 days Archaeological Expedition will take you inside of 3 countries that protect invaluable cultural, historical and natural treasures of the Mayan world.
Here you will explore world heritage sites and essential Maya cities like Copan in Honduras, Tikal, El Mirador, Yaxha, Topoxte in Guatemala, Caracol, Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, Altun Ha and Lamanai in Belize.
Expert Archaeologist and scholars will lead and share with you, their knowledge and years of experience, researching, digging, discovering, teaching and writing about the Maya Civilization.
- Highlights: Antigua Guatemala – Iximche – Guatemala City Museum – Copan – Quirigua – Tikal – El Mirador – Yaxha – Topoxte Caracol – Xunantunich – Cahal Pech – Altun Ha – Lamanai
- Activities: Archaeological Tours – Cultural Tour Antigua Guatemala -Lectures by Archaeologists & Scholars – Helicopter Adventure To el Mirador – Nature Tours – Riverboat ride – Jungle Hikes – Wildlife Observation
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Holiday Type: Cultural – Archaeology
- You will visit: Guatemala – Honduras – Belize
- Trip Style: Couples – Small Groups – Families
- Comfort level: Standard – Luxury
- Transportation: Minibus – Boat – SUV – Helicopter
- Length: 14 Days / 13 Nights
- Physical demand: Trip may include activities like walks, hikes and boat rides
- Pick up / Drop off locations: La Aurora International Airport
Archaeological Tours Guatemala – Archaeology Expedition
Meet & Greet by Martsam Travel’s team at la Aurora International Airport, and transfer toward the colonial jewel of La Antigua Guatemala.
Two nights lodging at la Antigua Guatemala
After breakfast, we will begin a cultural walking tour to discover Antigua Guatemala, one of the most important travel destinations in Guatemala and a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO.
Antigua, the capital of the Captaincy-General of Guatemala, was established during the early sixteenth century, within an earthquake-prone area, the Santa Marta earthquakes in 1773 had damaged severely. However, its main monuments remain conserved as ruins.
Antigua Guatemala is among the most beautiful examples in Latin American city planning, and all of that remains from the 16th-century town. The majority of the remaining civil, religious, and civic structures date from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and constitute impressive examples of colonial architectural mastery within the Americas.
These structures reveal a regional stylistic variance referred to as Barroco antigueño. Distinct characteristics of the architectural design consist of using decorative stucco for exterior and interior decoration, main facades having a central window niche and frequently a deeply-carved tympanum, large structures, and low bell towers created to tolerate the area’s repeated earthquakes.
Among the numerous substantial historical properties, the Palace of the Captains General, Cathedral of San Joseph, Museum of Universidad de San Carlos, Las Capuchinas, La Merced, Santa Clara, amongst others.
Welcome dinner at la Antigua Guatemala
Lecture before meal: Introduction To the Mayan world
Lodging at la Antigua Guatemala.
Today is time to visit Iximche, near Tecpan the first capital of Guatemala, located about 60 kilometers from Antigua Guatemala.
Iximche was the capital of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom from 1470 until its abandonment in 1524, Iximche, derives his name from the so-called tree Ramon (Ixim=Maíz, Che=tree), upgrowing in the region and whose fruit is eatable.
The settlement occupies an area approximated of 15.570 m, with over 170 structures, with the Post-Typical Tardío’s defensive characteristic. The hill Ratzamut is a promontory that Tecpán depends directly on the hill.
The essential part of Iximche has constructed on the extreme of the promontory above and flanked by deep ravines. The entrance was beside defendant for two doors provided of obsidian and an artificial moat that cuts the promontory from the ravine to ravine.
The southwest zone has several small groups that include patios and structures for ritual use. Each plaza has one or two temples and several platforms of houses. In the area of the plazas, there is a certain number of small structures of ceremonial use, eleven of them located within Plaza A.
There are few remains of the superstructures of the temples and houses since columns and walls were adobe, the roofs of perishable and inflammable material. According to Sololá’s Memorial, the first fire was in 1513.
Besides count on six plazas civic ceremonials (A, E), where were residing the main lineages, they are clear-cut and find separate among themselves by natural slopes, all of them have pyramidal temples, large platforms, and altars.
Groups A and C constitute the architectonic groups more monumental, which is why it has been assumed that they were the seats of Ahpoxahil and the Ahpozotzil, titles of the two rulers in the main lineages that reigned jointly in Iximche.
Groups the B and D seem to have been used by the dignitaries that Ahpop Qamha and Ahpop Achí carried titles. Plazas E and F, are surrounded by buildings that possibly were inhabited by younger dignitaries.
Iximche’s burials were under the floors of the habitational platforms. Between the utilitarian ceramics the micácea, which includes flats earthen frypan, towers overabundant ceramics with red engobe, the brown-colored bowls of the known type in Zaculeu and Mixco Viejo are quite common.
The sculpture of stone is in short supply; grindstones are frequent, tripodal. The black obsidian was used in high quantity to make knives, scrapers, and tips.
The actual Maya still use the ceremonial center, and we have a high probability of observing some of the Mayan rituals.
Lunch in Tecpan area
Return to Antigua Guatemala
After breakfast, we will head to Guatemala City to visit the National Museum of Archeology and Ethnology of Guatemala.
Arqueología’s and Etnología’s National Museum (MUNAE) is a Guatemalan organization commissioned with preservation and exhibition of vestiges of archaeological and ethnologic appliances, from the cultural and historical patrimony of Guatemala.
The display area has around 3000 sq. Meters and closes to 1500 sq. Meters destined for restoration and analysis of the pieces of their several collections. The museum keeps a set of approximately 20,000 archaeological pieces and around 5,000 ethnologic.
The museum displays a sample of several themes associated with the history of the Mayan culture, including well-organized collections that are representing the growth and development of the Maya in Guatemala in its different periods.
After the visit to the Museum, we continue towards Copan, in Honduras.
Lodging at Copan.
After breakfast, we will start our archaeological journey inside The Maya site of Copan, which is probably one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization.
The place was the political, civil and religious center in the Copan Valley. It was even the political and cultural core of a more significant area that included the south-east part of the Maya region as well its periphery.
The earliest data of human population within the Copan Valley goes back to 1500 B.C. However, the first Maya-Cholan migrants from the Guatemalan Highlands is dated close to 100 A.D.
In 427 A.D. The Maya leader known as a Yax Kuk Mo, from the northern site of Tikal began a dynasty of 16 rulers that converted Copan into one of the biggest Maya cities throughout the Classic Maya Period.
The genuinely great period of Copán, happened throughout the Classical time, AD 300-900. Significant cultural advancements occurred with substantial accomplishments in math, astronomy and hieroglyphic writing.
The archaeological remains and great public squares expose the three principal phases of development, through which progressed the temples, plazas, altar complexes and ball courts that could be discovered in our archaeological expedition within this world heritage site.
Dinner and lecture
Today we will have an early breakfast then we will cross the border coming back to Guatemala to visit the Archaeological site of Quirigua.
The Archaeological Ruins of Quirigua is located in the Department of Izabal in Guatemala which preserved the ancient architecture and the seventeen monuments (stelae and altars) carved between 426 AD and 810 AD and made up this great city.
The Great Plaza which is located a the center of the site is the most significant public space in the entire Maya region. The monumental complexes of Quirigua, situated around the Great Plaza, are remarkable for the complexity of their structure.
A suitably detailed system of pyramids, terraces, and stairways which ends up in an entire redesigning of the natural relief and which makes a unique dimension as at Copan.
The artistic manufacture of monolithic stone monuments, carved in sandstone without using metallic instruments, is exceptional. The stelae include hieroglyphic texting describing essential calendar dates, celestial events like eclipses, paragraphs of Maya mythology and political events, in addition to significant social and historical events to the growth of the site.
Additionally, this textual content provides a better comprehension of the fall and rise of Quirigua but moreover explains the period among 426 AD to 810 AD making it a possibility to rebuild aspects of Mayan historical past. During its short time of creating stelae, Quirigua was among just two places that often erect monuments marking the end-of five-year terms.
After our visit to Quirigua archaeological site, we continue to Tikal National Park for two nights lodging
Breakfast and time to start our expeditions under a unique tropical forest, through the trails and ancient causeways of Tikal.
Tikal was a settlement by no less than 600 B.C., eventually turning into the most significant center within the network of rising cities that grown in the lowlands throughout the Classic period.
The surviving section of Tikal is made in stone, stucco, and wood like stelae, altars, masks on building facades, temple roof combs, and, however, not to the public, lintels above the internal temple doorways.
16 sq. Km or about six square miles of central Tikal are mapped, exposing more than 3,000 independent buildings: temples, palaces, shrines, ceremonial platforms, residences, ballcourt, terraces, causeways, ritual wet bathing, small and large plazas.
The whole National Park is surrounded by a lush tropical humid forest that inhabits a unique neotropical fauna such as, Spider & Howler Monkeys, Agoutis, Coatis, reptiles, insects, and colorful birds that are also represented in ceramic, and stone monuments.
Two museums are protecting some of the valuable pieces of ceramic, stelae, altars, carved bones, and a replica of the burial from the Great Jaguar temple labeled by the archaeologist as burial 116, with The Royal tomb of Jasaw Chan K’awiil ruler.
After a tour, we get back to the hotel for lunch and rest; then we will visit the museums of the park.
Before dinner, we will have a lecture
Archaeological Expedition, visiting other essential areas of Tikal national park.
Return to the lodge for lunch and pack before transfer to Flores.
Two nights lodging at Flores, Island
After breakfast, we will head to the heliport to take a flight towards El Mirador Archaeological Site.
An extraordinary helicopter adventure which will transfer you across the beautiful and millenarian Mayan jungle looking for the lost city of El Mirador, a natural wonder nominated as a World Heritage Site.
Our knowledgeable tour guide is going to take you inside a journey through historical past visiting El Tigre complex, Los Monos Group, and The Jaguar’s Claw Temple which exhibits substantial painted masks of around three meters of height by two wide, where the naming of this pyramid, the tiger are taken.
Then we will visit the fantastic central Acropolis, within the structure 313 can observe five stages of the building as well as in its rear we are going to find shreds of evidence of the waterways that the Mayas of those periods where utilized to carry water.
On this building, we will look for a carved panel with the shape of twin brothers, Hunahpu and Ixbalanque, mythic creatures from the holy book of the Mayas, the Popol Vuh.
Moreover, to conclude we are going to visit the magnificent pyramid of “La Danta.”
Boxed lunch will be served on site
Return to your lodge in Flores.
Morning transfer to the archaeological sites of Yaxha and Topoxte, located about 70 kilometers from the island of Flores.
It is located on the northern bank of the lagoon of the same name, and he expands on the hill that runs parallel at the edge of the lagoon for approximately 3 kilometers.
The natural landscape of this place was shaped by tilted reliefs and irregular calcareous outcrops of roc set near and the lagoon side.
Yaxha shows around 500 constructions conditioned through leveling and cuts into terraces in descending order from east to west. In the place, there is archeological evidence of constructive monumental activity, dated for the classical terminal period, just as the main building of the Acropolis East, Aside From this structure, the examples most notorious are in the Grupo Maler.
Inside the best samples of the architecture of the late classical period, it is pertinent to mention, ball games, several Acropolis, temples, palaces, causeways and a complex of twin pyramids.
This element is relatively scarce and interesting within Mayan architecture. Combine two pyramids truncated by four stairs, with estelas and altars, an enclosed area by walls, very characteristic and, in front of them, a construction with nine doors
Is situated in the largest of a group of four islands – – Topoxte – Cante – Paxte and Jacalte, located in the extreme south-west of the lagoon of Yaxha.
In epochs of drought, the river Ixtinto that surrounds the island in the south and west part, constitute a kind of canal, and for the side east, the island adds to solid land.
The topography of the island consists of a set of irregular limestones rocks with the highest point in the north sector, a depression at the center and another highest point in the Southern and center part.
The public distribution of Topoxte, during the post-classical Mayan period, made good use of the artificial stuffings of the previous constructive stages to go on with the space transformation in a sequence of level terraces.
These terraces were defined for steep banks and free adaptation to the irregular topography without respecting the very beginnings of organizing of axes symmetry that rule in the urbanism of the classical Mayan period.
From the central plaza of the site, with a group of ceremonial architecture, to placed back to back areas of elitist and service houses.
The very beginning of urban organizing is a sequence of concentric irregular levels surrounding the center lifted toward the exterior of the island with continuous stripes curved to arrive on the border of the lake.
After the archaeological adventure, we will head toward a local restaurant for lunch.
We continue to the Melchor the means which is the border with Belize.
After clear customs, we will head to our lodge in San Ignacio
Today we will start our archaeology tour with about 2 and half hour transfer toward the archaeological site of Caracol which is located in the western area of the Maya Mountains, within the Chiquibul Forest Reserve.
The adventure begins in the most significant archeological site in Belize, protecting 30 square. Mls of primary canopy rainforest, and possesses five plazas, an astronomic observatory, causeways, and many structures.
The loftiest between them, a large pyramid knowns as Caana, stays one of the most extensive human-made constructions in Belize. Its elaborate architecture contains structures which were employed for administrative, residential and ritual functions.
Throughout the archaeological adventure, the opportunity of an encounter with the exotic wildlife is a plus.
After the Caracol trip, return to Cayo
After breakfast, we will have a short transfer toward Xunantunich Archaeological site. Xunatunich is found over the Mopan river, in the town of San Jose Succotz, close to Belize’s western border and easily 9.6 kilometers from San Ignacio City. To get to the site a smaller hand-cranked ferryboat transported site visitors into the location entry.
The heart of Xunantunich rests on artificially flattened limestone ridge that stands nearly 183 meters above sea level. From this central place, the area extends out, covering settlements that reach for many square km.
Our guided expedition will visit the epicenter that includes four primary architectural groups (A, B, C, and D.) becoming the most notable the group A, that is covered with the 40 meters high structure A6 or El Castillo.
This massive structure is a significant multi-complex building that functioned like a residence, shrine, and administration center for the elite rulers of the center.The easter and western peak of El Castillo have massive stucco friezes with carved components that mainly symbolize astronomical representations.
The entire site provides an extraordinary archeological and nature experience of the Mayan World.
Following the tour of Xunantunich, we are going to head towards Cahal Pech; that is found inside stunning forest surroundings, on an imposing hill that looks over the double villages of Santa Elena and San Ignacio.
Our archaeological expedition continues exploring central precinct of Cahal Pech that includes a little area that protects a little more than two acres.
The majority of the buildings can be found around seven courtyards including large temple pyramids and many range-type constructing or palaces.
The highest temple is the structure A1 which stands 77 ft higher. The site also includes two ballcourts, eight simple and one carved stela, and a single altar.
Afternoon transfer to Belize City for two nights lodging
Early transfer towards Orange Walk Town, where you will board our boat to begins the riverboat adventure up the New River in the quest of Lamanai for our archaeology adventure.
Lamanai has the longest recognized record of occupation within the Maya region. The site was initially settled about 900 BC. Nearly 3, 000 years after, when the Spaniards came around AD 1544, they discovered a remarkable community which was still flourishing and practicing several of their old traditions.
With substantial plazas or groups of massive buildings make-up Lamanai’s central core. At the northern end-of-the site core, you will find a large the platform supporting some prominent structures that stand 28 meters high.
An expedition throughout the main center of Lamanai will get you to a mask ornamented temple. The revealed mask, as well as concealed version in the left section of the stairs, are unique within the Maya region as they are cut from blocks of limestone instead of modeled from plaster over the stone core.
Belizean Lunch Style will be served on site
Return to Belize City
Today we will take about 45 minutes trip towards Altun Ha Maya site for our last archaeological experience before to take a flight back home.
Altun Ha is compact but interestingly rich; main ceremonial center populated throughout the classic period.Regardless of its modest dimensions and apparently limited area, Altun ha was an old Maya group of fantastic sophistication and prosperity.
It had been an essential link within the coast trade routes and had a communication with the faraway city of Teotihuacan at the beginning of Mayan history.
The first proof of settlement at Altun ha dates to 200 BC, despite the fact that it is likely that nomadic hunting- and – collecting tribes resided in the place before then.
After the tour, we will head towards the international airport to take a flight back home.
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