investigations led by Prof. Jose Benitez
January 12 – 19 $1306 per person (Extension Jan 19 -24, 2016)
Itinerary day by day
Day 1: Jan 12th Tues Arrival
Meet & greet at the airport by our host and transfer to your hotel,
The Grand Tikal Futura Hotel in Guatemala City.www.grandtikalfutura.com.gt
Day 2: Jan 13th Weds Guatemala City
Tour to the stunning Popol Vuh Museum with artifacts from the earliest settlers starting with a Clovis point and continuing through periods of funerary ceramics to the Postclassic. At the Museum of Archaeology you will say, “I see marvelous things!” Afternoon visit Kaminaljuju, This vast city was a very important trading center for the Mesoamerican region from the Preclassic (1200 BC) to the Postclassic period (900 AD). It may have had settlers from as early as 2000 BC. The Jade Museum in Costa Rica claims that their ancient artisans imported jade from Guatemala to carve and then exported Olmec carvings back. Most of this vast ancient city,-(Ka meanal-hoo’ yu) has been destroyed by urbanization. We will enjoy a festive dinner at Kakao Restaurant with Jose Benitez. Grand Tikal Futura Hotel (B, D)
Day 3: Jan 14th Thurs Costa Sur: Olmec sites
Morning transfer to Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa. Today we visit El Baul and Bilbao with their acropolises connected by a wide sacbe and (foundations of) a 92 foot bridge. The Finca Las Ilusiones displays several fascinating sculptures. We continue to the site of Monte Alto in La Democracia to view several Olmec type heads and other enigmatic sculptures. Do these heads have similarities to the features of the heads of the 16 ritual figures at La Venta? Lunch and dinner at the lodge on you own. We suggest (best deal, pay with quetzals) Afternoon transfer to rustic Takalik Mayan Lodge (B)
Day 4: Jan 15th Fri Takalik Abaj / Lake Atitlan
Today we explore Takalik Abaj the site of the recently excavated fabulous burial of an important priest, or king or chieftain K’utz Chman who ruled about 700 BC. Hundreds of beads, Jade jewels included a necklace with a green sculpted pendant in the shape of a vulture and a jade mask were included. Did K’utz Chman innovate changes that led to the development from Olmec to Maya? Lunch at Takalik Mayan Lodge. Afternoon transfer to famous cobalt blue Lake Atitlan and checking in to the Porta Hotel in Panajachel (B,)www.portahotels.com
Day 5: Jan 16th Sat Free Day and Optional Tours
Today you can take the morning off to swim, shop, rent a bike or look at the gorgeous lake. Or:
Optional: A LAKE TOUR to Santiago Atitlan to learn about the Maya god, Maximon, a weaving village, a visit to the studios / homes of the celebrated naïf painters and a ceremony with a shaman at San Marcos. Boats, tuk-tuks (3 wheeled vehicles w driver and guide $50).
Day 5 continued: Lunch at Posada de Don Rodrigoand visit to their “Museo Lacustre” (Lakeside Museum) and witness the result of underwater archaeology. Learn about the volcanic activity that created Lake Atitlan’s breathtaking landscapes and the underwater Maya city of Samabaj that was discovered by a scuba diving tourist. Lodging La Porta Hotel in Panajachel (B)
Day 6: Jan 17th Sun Chichicastenango / Iximche / Antigua Guatemala
Today you will visit Chichicastenango (1 hour) mask makers, morerias (dance costumes, drama scripts, props), Iglesia Santo Tomas, Cemetery, after the tour we will have lunch in tiny Tecpan probably at the friendly cozy Paseo Xejsminthe. After lunch we will be visiting Iximche archaeological site. Iximché was a Maya Cakchiquel city founded in 1463, less than a century before the arrival of the Spaniards; it played a decisive role in the Spanish conquest of this region of Guatemala. When Linda Schele visited on a Catholic holiday she was excited to find crowds worshipping with candles and altars to their gods. Even today, its four ceremonial plazas with their temples and ball court host ceremonies for the gods. We continue to Antigua and Conte-Nast award winning hotel the Casa Santo Domingo (Best Hotel of Central and South America. www.casasantodomingo.com.gt
Day 7: Jan 18th Mon Antigua Guatemala
Antigua visit Jade House and archaeologist, Mary Lou Ridinger with important stories to tell about her discovery of the source of jade, her founding of an archaeological conservancy and the recent theft of jade by a Chinese company. Optional Colonial Tour of Central park, Cathedral, Convent of the Capuchinas (home of unmarried daughters of rich Spaniards) and La Merced Church. (Transport, guide & fees $40)
Afternoon visit all the museums at Casa Santo Domingo, Dinner in a local restaurant in Antigua
Lodging at Casa Santo Domingo (B)
Day 8: Jan 19th Tues. La Azotea / Antigua Guatemala (Optional Tour)
Breakfast at your hotel,
Optional: Visit La Azotea Cultural Center with a Coffee farm Tour and an excellent Museum of Maya Musical Instruments. Take home some famous Guatemalan coffee for your pet sitter.
Afternoon transfer to the airport to continue to Flores or back home.
ALL Hearty Breakfasts and 1 dinner are included.
Jose Benitez will take us to safe restaurants for lunch and dinner.
You will be able to choose and pay for your own meal. (Currently 7.5 quetzals per $1)
Extension to Tikal, Quirigua & Copan area
Day 8: Jan 19th Tues Flight to Flores
Continuing travelers will be transferred to the Guatemala City airport at 3:30pm
Your flight departs for Flores at 6:30pm, and arrives Flores at 7:30pm.
Dinner (on your own) at the air conditioned Hotel Villa Maya, (B)
Day 9: Jan 20th Wed Tikal National Park
After breakfast you will be transfer to Tikal where you will be guided along the paths of the most important city in the Mayan world. Abundant wild life, the Mayan forest, temples millennial silent witness of the birth and splendor as well as of the collapse of one of the most important civilizations in the planet. Did Tikal collapse because they did not have enough sustainability to serve 50,000 citizens?
Dinner in a local restaurant in Flores. Return to your hotel in time for viewing the sunset over the lake
Lodging at Hotel Villa Maya (B)
Day 10: Jan 21st Thu Quirigua / Copan
Breakfast at your hotel and transfer to Copan (6 hours) on the way you will have guided tour at Quirigua, a site with the tallest stelae. What was the purpose of the zoomorphic carvings?
Dinner and lodging in Copan at Hotel Clarion Suites (B)
Day 11: Jan 22nd Fri Copan full day
Breakfast and tour to majestic Copan archaeological site including ruins, tombs and Museums
Dinner and lodging at Hotel Clarion Suites (B)
Day 12: Jan 23rd Sat Guatemala City
Breakfast and transfer to Guatemala City
Dinner and lodging at Grand Tikal Futura Hotel Guatemala City (B)
13: Jan 24th Sun Back Home
Breakfast and transfer to the airport in time to catch your international flight back home (B)