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Extension: Mysteries in Stone: On the Trail of the Maya in Guatemala and Copan

Program Number: 20837RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/12/2013 - 1/18/2013;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Honduras/Guatemala
Price starting at: $1,399.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Small Ship
Meals: 15; 6 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 3 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian    

Before setting sail, learn about the intriguing Mayan heritage and Spanish colonial history of Guatemala and Honduras. Discover the spectacular ruins of Copán and experience Mayan music, chocolate and living traditions.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles per day over uneven terrain. Stairs at ruins are irregular and usually do not have railings.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Guatemala City (Guatemala), 1 night; Antigua Guatemala, 3 nights; Copán (Honduras), 2 nights.

Day 1: Arrival Guatemala City (Guatemala):

Lodging: Modern hotel in the city’s Zona Viva (“lively zone”).

Days 2-4: Coach to Antigua Guatemala:

Journey out of Guatemala City into the scenic highlands to find the colorful Chichicastenango Market, where Mayans from surrounding villages gather to sell goods and socialize. Continue to Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its spectacular colonial architecture. An expert-led walk reveals Antigua’s history and efforts to preserve its unique culture. Visit the Casa K’ojom museum to delve into the evolution of Mayan music. Learn about traditional Mayan textile-making in the weaving town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Try your hand at making Mayan chocolate from cacao beans at the Choco Museum. Lodging: Grand colonial home converted to a hotel.

Days 5-6: Coach to Copán (Honduras):

Journey into Honduras to the town of Copán, its cobblestone streets and tile roofs characteristic of the colonial era. A lecture by expert archaeologist David Sedat prepares you for the next day’s exploration. The following morning, set out on an expert-led field trip to the Mayan ruins at Copán, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Examine beautiful carvings of gods and animals, discover the great ballcourt and learn what life was like in this major city. At the beautiful new Copán Sculpture Museum, view spectacular facades and altars that have been repatriated to the site in recent years. Lodging: Historic hotel near the ruins.

Day 7: Coach to San Pedro Sula to begin program

Meals and Lodgings
   Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City
  Guatemala City, Guatemala 1 night
   Posada de Don Rodrigo - Antigua
  Antigua, Guatemala 3 nights
   Hotel Peten Esplendido
  Flores, Guatemala 2 nights
 Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Attractive hotel located within 5-10 minutes drive of La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, in the city's vibrant Zona 10. Spacious rooms and a variety of amenities cater to business travelers as well as vacationing families.
  Ship Information: Not applicable.
  Contact info: 1a. Avenida 12-46, Zona 10
Guatemala City,  01010 Guatemala
phone: +502-2-4215151
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, cable TV, coffee maker, flat panel TV, hair dryer, internet access, iron/ironing board, complimentary newspaper, event rooms, mini bar, radio alarm clock, and safety deposity box.
  Facility amenities: Airport transportation (at additional cost/reservation required), business center, 24 hr bar/lounge, executive desk with internet access on most floors, gym, restaurant, WiFi, laundry services, mobile phone rental, shoe shining services, travel agency, terrace whirlpool, massage services, and shops.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Room type and rates are subject to availability.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Posada de Don Rodrigo - Antigua
Type: Hotel
  Description: Historic hotel located a few blocks from the town's main square. Inner courtyards, tiled roofs, fountains and antique furnishings give guests the feeling of having stepped back in time.
  Contact info: 5ta Avenida Norte No. 17
Antigua,  000000 Guatemala
phone: +502-8320291
  Room amenities: Fireplaces and antique furniture.
  Facility amenities: Conference rooms, restaurant, and bar.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Hotel Peten Esplendido
Type: Hotel
  Description: Attractive lakefront property located 45 minutes away from the Tikal National Park.
  Contact info: 1 calle, 5-01, Zona 1
Santa Elena Flores,  00000 Guatemala
phone: +502-9260880
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, ceiling fan, cable TV, direct dial telephone, and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: Laundry services, pool, conference room, and restaurant.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Afternoon arrivals into La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City that night.
  End of Program:
Late afternoon arrival at the hotel in Belize City. Join program #20807. You will be staying at Hotel Peten Esplendido the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Not applicable.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Guatemala City
  Nearest airport:  Guatemala City has both an international airport and a domestic airport.
  Transportation to site: Taxi services are available for hire outside the arrivals hall of the La Aurora International Airport. If you choose to hire a taxi to the hotel, please agree on the price beforehand. The Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City offers airport transportation services for an additional cost. The service must be booked in advance. Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City tel: 011-502-24215151/
  From End of Program
  Location:  Belize City
  Nearest airport:  Belize City has both an international airport & a domestic airport.
  Transportation from site: The Road Scholar pre-extension program #20837 will conclude in Belize City, at the Hotel Radisson Ft. George. Participants will have the opportunity to check-in and freshen-up before joining other members of the main program (#20807 Coral Reefs, Rainforests and Ancient Sites of Belize and Guatemala) for a program orientation session and dinner at the hotel.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Arrivals in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
(Saturday, January 12)
 Arrive To: Arrivals in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Proceed through Immigrations, Baggage Claim and Customs before exiting the secured area of the airport. The Road Scholar representative will be waiting outside the exit door, in the arrivals hall, with a Road Scholar sign (only applies to Road Scholar group flights).

Transfer to the hotel.

Note: This is an international travel day. No meals or program activities are included on this day. Hotel check-in starts at 3 p.m.
Accommodations: Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City

Day 2: Antigua -
Program Orientation/Chichicastenango Market/Introduction to Antigua.

(Sunday, January 13)
 Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Orientation to the program at the hotel.

Leave behind the hustle and bustle of Guatemala City and head northwest, into the scenic highlands of El Quiche, to enjoy a field trip to Chichicastenango Market

Chichicastenango, or "Chichi" as it is locally known, is the site of a colorful, indigenous market. Mayans from nearby villages and surrounding areas travel to the town on Thursdays and Sundays to bring their products and produce to the market. It is here that the locals exchange gossip and information.

You will also visit the church of Santo Tomas to see how the Mayan religion has blended with Christianity and to learn more about the religious rituals of the people of Guatemala
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, transfer to the charming colonial town of Antigua.

In Antigua one can witness the interesting blend of old and new on every street corner. Known as "La Antigua Guatemala," this colonial capital was founded with the name of Santiago de Guatemala in 1543. Today, still about the same size as in colonial times, Antigua's cobble-stone streets are lined with colonial buildings including a number of convents, monasteries, churches and chapels around the main square. With the blending of the old with the new, Congress passed a Protective Law for La Antigua Guatemala for the protection of historical buildings and areas that gives much of the city its colonial character.

Lecture: Antigua: Behind the Walls.
 Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Posada de Don Rodrigo - Antigua
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Antigua -
Walking Orientation of Antigua a UNESCO World Heritage Site/Casa K'ojom Music Museum.

(Monday, January 14)
 Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Walking orientation to Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city orientation will focus on Antigua's history, cultural trends and restoration efforts. During the walk we will visit the City Hall Palace, Palace of the Captain General, and the Cathedral with its majestic ruins. Learn about Antigua's unique cultural lifestyle, Maya archaeology (through the spiritual stone of jade), and the best museums in town at Paseo de los Museos.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, learn about local musical traditions during a field trip to the Casa K'ojom Music Museum. Site Lecture: The Evolution of Mayan Music.

The Casa K'ojom Museum is a private, not-for-profit, research center and museum dedicated to the study and preservation of Guatemala's traditional Maya music.
 Dinner: On your own, to explore local fare.
Accommodations: Posada de Don Rodrigo - Antigua
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Antigua -
Maya Textiles/Chocolate Museum.

(Tuesday, January 15)
 Breakfast: At the hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Lecture: Traditional Maya Textiles.

Field trip to San Antonio Aguas Calientes Textile Cooperative to view traditional weaving techniques, textiles, and patterns.
 Lunch: At local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, enjoy a visit to the Choco Museum for a presentation on chocolate.

Learn about this tasty treat, consumed in beverage form by the Maya as far back as 500 B.C. Find out the secrets of chocolate, from its production process to its significance in local culture. Even try your hand at making chocolate right from the cacao beans!
 Dinner: On your own, to enjoy local fare.
Accommodations: Posada de Don Rodrigo - Antigua
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Guatemala City/Flores -
Orientation to Guatemala City/Fly to Flores.

(Wednesday, January 16)
 Breakfast: At hotel restaurant.
 Morning: After breakfast, enjoy some time on your own to explore Antigua.

Late morning transfer to Guatemala City, arriving in time for lunch.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Orientation to Guatemala City including the Archaeological Museum, the National Palace and Relief Map of Guatemala.

Transfer to the airport for late afternoon flight to Flores, in the Peten Region.

Arrive in Flores and transfer to the hotel.
 Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Peten Esplendido
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Flores -
Tikal National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(Thursday, January 17)
 Breakfast: At hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Field trip to Tikal National Park.
Site lecture: Tikal - One of the Most Powerful Cities in the Ancient Mayan World.

One of the largest classic Mayan cities, Tikal had no water other than what was collected from rainwater and stored in underground storage facilities. The absence of springs, rivers, and lakes in the immediate vicinity of Tikal highlights a remarkable feat: building a major city with only supplies of stored seasonal rainfall. The reliance on seasonal rainfall left Tikal vulnerable to prolonged drought, which is now thought to play a major role in the Mayan collapse.

There are thousands of ancient structures at Tikal and only a fraction of these have been excavated after decades of archaeological work. The most prominent buildings include six very large Mesoamerican step pyramids. Some of these pyramids are over 200 feet tall.
 Lunch: At the national park.
 Afternoon: Continue with explorations of the Tikal archaeological complex with a visit to the Tikal Museum.

The Museo Sylvanus G. Morley showcases ceramics and artifacts unearthed at Tikal. Exhibits include the three long-nosed pale turquoise rain gods, the little figure of the "Old God" from the tomb of "First Crocodile," holding a human head in his hands, an incense burner (the Maya god is wearing an owl headdress), a platter decorated with a flapping fish, a little jade sleeping jaguar.

Transfer back to Flores.

Time at leisure to enjoy the hotel and surrounding area.
 Dinner: At the hotel restaurant.
Accommodations: Hotel Peten Esplendido
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Belize City -
Transfer to Belize City/Belize Zoo & Tropical Education Center/Join Program #20807.

(Friday, January 18)
 Breakfast: At hotel restaurant.
 Morning: Begin transfer to Belize City.

Stop at the Guatemala/Belize border for inspection of travel documentation
 Lunch: At a local restaurant en route.
 Afternoon: En-route visit to the Belize Zoo.

The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center was founded in 1983 with the mission to educate visitors about the wildlife of Belize. The small zoo only features native species which are enclosed in reproductions of their natural habitats. None of the captive animals found at the Belize Zoo were taken from the wild; the park only accepts rescued, injured or donated animals from other zoological centers. Visitor favorites include the jaguar, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, and Baird's tapir. A number of animals featured at the zoo have religious or ceremonial significance in Mayan lore.

Continue with transfer to Belize City. Late afternoon arrival at the hotel, where you will join your #20807 program.

Check-into rooms and freshen-up before the program orientation & dinner.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Time Among the Maya, Travels in Belize, Guatemala, & Mexico

Author: Ronald Wright

Secrets in Stone: All About Maya Hieroglyphs

Author: Laurie Coulter

Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide

Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer

Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.

A Neotropical Companion

Author: J.C. Kricher, Mark Plotkin

Description: From plants and animals to birds and bugs, it's all here in this wonderfully written overview of the ecology, habitats, plants and animals of Central and South America.

Guatemala and Belize: The Rough Guide

Author: Rough Guides

Description: This comprehensive guide to Guatemala and Belize, includes in-depth accounts of towns and villages, with background on history, culture, and archaeology.

Lost Cities of the Maya

Author: Claude Baudez, Sydney Picasso

Description: This lavish little pocket encyclopedia of archaeological discovery features hundreds of color photographs and illustrations, including Catherwood's original engravings.

Maya Art and Architecture

Author: Mary Ellen Miller

Description: An illustrated overview of the art and architecture of the Maya, making use of the latest discoveries at Tikal, Copan and Palenque to demonstrate the range of Maya artistic influence. With 200 illustrations, 50 in color, including site plans, maps, strikingly rendered reconstructions and color photographs of key temples and buildings.

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