Guatemala Nature & Wildlife (11n/12d)

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Guatemala is home to a wide arrange of wildlife, and the Bird population is highly varied, laying along the cross continental route between the north and south American continents

Day 1, Arrival – Antigua (Unguided)
Guests are met & transferred to Antigua. (1hr) Antigua 2N • Upgrade with welcome dinner • Upgrade with informal lecture / discussion on background to Guatemala & its History • Upgrade with welcome gifts & message

Day 2, Community Tours & Programs – Coffee Farms & Textile Coops (B,L)
In the morning guests will enjoy an active and participating tour of small local coffee farms to learn about the coffee history and process and in the afternoon there will be a local, village traditional lunch followed by a community tour of a village textile and handicraft cooperative. As Green as it Gets (GAIG) is a charity working to support small independent coffee producers and promoting environmentally responsible agriculture in Guatemala. This tour takes guests to visit some of the families supported by this organization where they can work side-by-side with small coffee farmers in their daily coffee processing, pick, pulp, ferment, wash, dry, trilla, sort, and grade the coffee (depending on the season), roast coffee over an open fire and grind by hand on a grindstone before sampling their handiwork. Coffee Season is Nov to Mar. This tour includes a donation to GAIG and the Viaventure Foundation also supports this organization on an annual basis. With the help of Casasito Association the handicraft center of Santiago Zamora began in 2006 offering both tours but also serving as an education center where workshops and courses are offered to the local women to help the protection and growth of traditional Guatemalan weaving in the village. During the tour guests visit the village itself and the handicraft center and learn about the local history, language and traditional way of life as well as the difficulties faced by today’s rural Guatemala. The tour includes a walk through the village, demonstrations of traitional weaving methods and a family-style lunch where you can learn how to make “tortillas”. 100% of the entrance fee here goes directly to the villages and to a special fund used for social purposes such as education, medicine and emergency help. The price of this tour also includes a small donation to Casasito Association and the Viaventure Foundation also supports this organization on an annual basis

Day 3, Birdwatching & Transfer to Lake Atitlan
After early morning bird watching in the surrounding of Antigua we transfer to Reserva Atitlan. Guests will enjoy here an easy hike in the tropical forest with enchanting waterfalls and bridges. The reserve contains interesting plants and animals, including monkeys, the raccoon-like coatis and exotic birds, such as Guatemala’s national bird, the quetzal. The Nature reserve as well has an enclosed butterfly preserve with a breeding laboratory with approximately 200 living specimens of nearly 20 species of native Guatemala butterflies. If you are in for a bit more adventure end your hike with an exciting canopy tour. Atitlan 2N

Day 4, Lake Tour (San Juan, Santiago) (B,L) (Guide FD)
This morning guests will take a scenic boat ride across Lake Atitlan (30min) to the village of San Juan La Laguna where they will visit the women’s textile cooperative to see hand weaving and natural dye process. Guests will have lunch in a local restaurant. Guests can visit the studios / homes of the celebrated naïf painters. From here guests continue to the village of Santiago where they have lunch in a local hotel and tour the village visiting the Maya God Maximon and learn about the textiles, spiritualism and beliefs of the T’zutujil Maya. • Upgrade with Sunset cocktails at Casa Palopo with Maya Specialist Vincent Stanzione (Informal discussion on Maya Culture)

Day 5, Chichi Market & Flight to Flores (B,L) (Guided)
Today guests transfer approx. 1hr to the famous market at Chichi. Time for shopping in this fabulous craft market and an opportunity to see Maya rituals being performed in the Catholic Church before transferring on to on to Guatemala City Airport (3hr) in time to catch the early evening flight to Flores. (45min) In Flores you will be met & transferred to your hotel in the rainforest. (Trf. time depends on hotel) Tikal Area 1N. • Upgrade with a Helicopter Transfer • Upgrade with private charter flight to Flores

Day 6, Ceibal Site & Petexbatun Lake (BLD) (Guide FD)
Guests will be met at their hotel by their wildlife guide and driver and will be transferred to Sayaxche (1.5hr) & then board a local boat for a picturesque river journey down the La Pasion river (30min) to the site at Ceibal. After a pretty steep climb up to the site through a Ceiba tree forest your guide will provide you with the latest findings and conclusions about this site which contains some of the most ornate & well preserved carved stelae. On route guests will have many opportunities to see wildlife. When you are ready continue by river to your rainforest lodge on the shores of Lake Petexbatun,(1hr) Chiminos Lodge 1N.

Day 7, Aguateca, Flores (B, L) (Guide FD)
After breakfast, transfer with your guide by boat to the lesser visited yet unique site at Aguateca (30min). This site is unusual in that it contains the only known bridge formed in Maya civilization and is surrounded by a natural moat fortification formed by a fault line. Guests can explore the natural fault as well as a small selection of restored monuments and some intricate carvings. There are many opportunities to see wildlife today both on the water transfer and whilst walking around the site. Lunch at the lodge. After lunch transfer back to Flores by boat & land. Nitun Lodge 2N

Day 8, Canopy & Yaxha Sunset (B,L) (Guide FD)
Guests are picked up from their hotel and transferred to the Ixpanpajul Nature Park in the rainforest near the town of Flores. At the park guests can choose between a Canopy walk Way trail or an exciting zip line adventure through the canopy. On either trip guests will be able to appreciate the local flora & fauna and hopefully see a variety of tropical wildlife. After lunch they transfer to Yaxha National Park (approx 1hr) to explore this atmospheric lakeside site ending with refreshments & wonderful views at sunset over the rainforest canopy from atop the main temples. After sunset guests will walk back to their vehicle and have an opportunity to spot more nocturnal wildlife. • Upgrade with a luxury picnic

Day 9, ARCAS Rescue project (B) (Guide HD)
Guests transfer this morning to the ARCAS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on the shores of Lake Petenitza. ARCAS is a non-profit Guatemalan NGO formed in 1989 by a group of Guatemalan citizens who became concerned as they saw their precious natural heritage – especially their wildlife – rapidly disappearing before their eyes. It was originally created for a very specific and urgent purpose: to build a rescue center to care for and rehabilitate wild animals that were being confiscated on the black market by the Guatemalan government. Since its establishment, the ARCAS Rescue Center has grown into one of the largest and most complex rescue centers in the world, receiving between 300 and 600 animals of more than 40 species per year. The ARCAS Wild Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center is comprised of a quarantine area, a veterinary hospital, three large rehabilitation enclosures, a large flight cage, kitchen, dining and workshop area, volunteer house, employee housing and a large floating dock. The animal cages and enclosures are scattered throughout the jungle in order to reduce stress to the animals. Guests will take a guided tour of the centre with a member of the ARCAS team so that they can learn about the work of ARCAS and the programs the undertake as well as specifics about how they manage to rehabilitate wild animals back into the rainforest environment.  A portion of the cost of this tour will be donated to the ARCAS charity.

Day 10, Uaxactun Archaeology & Community Tour, (B) (Guide FD)
Brought to you in partnership with WCS. Guests transfer deep into the Peten rainforest to the community and archaeology site at Uaxactun. Here they will be guided by our expert guide as well as a community guide who will be able to explain about the various development programs ongoing in this community aimed at decreasing deforestation and finding alternative sources of income. Viaventure has partnered with the charity Wildlife Conservation Society to develop this tour and our guide will be able to inform gusts about the work that WCS is doing in this community and in Guatemala in general. Guests will also receive a tour of the wonderful Maya archaeology site of Uaxactun and a local lunch in the community restaurant. The price of this tour includes the community guide fee and a donation to the Uaxactun community – administered by WCS. Jungle Lodge, 2N

Day 11, Tikal – the Wild Side! (B,L) (Guide HD)
Today guests will have an early morning tour of Tikal to explore this amazing UNESCO protected Mayan Temple site where huge Mayan temples rise above the jungle canopy and monkeys and tropical birds are abundant in the surrounding rainforest. Your guide is a wildlife expert so as well as seeing the main areas of the archaeology you’re your guide will look for tropical wildlife in the area to give guests some wildlife interaction. After lunch & time to relax and refresh guests will be able to get back into the park and enjoy the sunset from one of the temples. • Upgrade with a luxury picnic

Day 12, Transfer Out (B) (Unguided)
This morning our driver will transfer guests to Flores airport (approx 1hour) from where they will fly back to Guatemala City (30min) where they will arrive in plenty of time to catch their flight out.

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