When one considers ancient civilizations most think of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Carthagians .. those based around the Mediterranean. Far across the ocean from those who held sway in Europe though a number of Ancient Civilizations not only flourished but thrived well past the date when the Roma Empire (as an example) had collapsed.
As one journeys South in the Americas from Mexico, throuhg Guatemala and onwards into Ecuador and Peru you can discover thetraces and remains of some of the worlds grandest civilizations – that of the Olmecs, the Aztecs, The Mayans and the Incas.
While it is (as you would assume) my recommendation to visit a lot of South America and Central America as individual countries on small manageable trips rather than just one long trip as many seem to want to do, if you are after a trip to take in Ancient Civilizations then this is a possibility to do within three weeks (inclusive of flights) and cover the Olmecs, Aztecs, Mayans and Incas.
A three week trip would cover the basics .. one that wanted to cover the four civilizations in depth would take considerably longer, but the shorter one is suitable for most working people on holiday or those seeking an introduction to South and Central America.
For a tour that fits within a three week period we would suggest something along the lines of the following ..
Day 1: Arrival Mexico City, Transfer to hoitel on arrival. Day 2: Full day Mexico City tour including remains of Tenotchitlan Day 3: Full day tour out to Teotihuacan Day 4: Full day Tour to Uxmal and Kabah, overnight Merida Day 5: Visit Chichen Itza enroute to Cancun, Fly to Antigua for Overnight. Day 6: Morning Tour of Antigua and Afternoon opportunity to check out Mayan instruments and traditions and nearby coffee farms and museums. Day 7: Visit Solola Maya Market enroute to Atitlan, visit Lake Atitlan. Day 8: Scenic boat ride round Atitlan visiting indigenous Mayan villages, then continue to the village of Santiago to visit the Maya god Maximon and learn about the T’zutujil Mayas. Day 9: Visit the Chichicastenago Markets before journeying to Tikal Day 10: Full day exploration of Tikal before returning to Guatemala City. Day 11: Fly to Lima for overnight Day 12: City Sightseeing Tour of Lima with visits to Larco-Herrera and Archeological Museums. Day 13: Journey to Cusco and visit the Koricancha and Sasayhuaman Inca Temples and Cathedral Day 14: Full day tour of Urumbamba Sacred valey including Chincheros, Maras and Pichingoto Day 15: Take Vistadome train to Machu Picchu for full day site visit. Day 16: Self Exploration this morning of Machu Picchu befoe returning to Cusco Day 17: Transfer to Airport for homeward bound flight