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Guided walking & cultural holidays
Touring: Guatemala & Costa Rica


Tour Highlights

Wander the cobblestoned streets of charming colonial Antigua.
Sail on beautiful Lake Atitlán and visit traditional lakeshore communities.
Discover the jungle temples of Tikal, a stronghold of the ancient Maya.
Visit San Jose, lively capital of Costa Rica, surrounded by coffee plantations.
Navigate the jungle waterways of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast.
Explore the lava trails on Arenal Volcano and relax in the hot springs.
Discover the amazing diverse wildlife of the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

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Tour Itinerary

DAY 1: 16 OCT - WELCOME TO GUATEMALA!
Met upon arrival at the airport and transferred to our hotel in the colonial city of Antigua Guatemala, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, just 45km from Guatemala City.

DAY 2: 17 OCT - ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA (B, D)
Antigua Guatemala is protected by the surrounding eternal guards, the Volcanoes of Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. Founded in 1543, it was partially destroyed by earthquakes in 1773. Be guided through the cobblestoned streets to visit the Plaza de Armas, Palace of the Captains, the Cathedral, churches, and monasteries. Shopping opportunities await with locally produced jade and handcrafts in the markets. Welcome lunch following the tour then remainder of the day at leisure.

DAY 3: 18 OCT - SAN ANTONIO, AGUAS CALIENTES - CIUDAD VIEJA (B,L)
A morning visit to the lovely towns around Antigua. San Antonio Aguas Calientes is home to unique and beautiful weaving. Ciudad Vieja, founded in 1527, met its demise in 1541, when Volcán Agua emptied the water from its crater. The water deluged the town with tons of rock and mud, leaving only the ruins of La Concepción church.

DAY 4: 19 OCT - CHICHICASTENANGO-ATITLAN LAKE (B)

Drive through the Guatemalan Highlands to the Indian village of Chichicastenango, where pre-hispanic and catholic rituals abound, centred on the 400-year-old church of Santo Tomas, built on the remains of a Mayan Temple. It’s Market day and a great chance to breathe in the atmosphere (and incense) that impregnates the area with mysticism, as the market explodes with colour, tradition, and folklore.

Later we’ll transfer to Panajachel on the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan, with three volcanoes Atitlan, Tolimán, and San Pedro protecting it. Our charming hotel is one of Guatemala’s finest, surrounded by Botanical Gardens.

DAY 5: 20 OCT - BOAT RIDE IN SANTIAGO ,ATITLAN LAKE. (B)
A morning boat trip to Santiago Atitlán. This village is located on the south part of the lake, on the slopes of the Atitlan Volcano. Visit the church of Santiago Apostol and the confraternity of Maximón. Afternoon is at leisure.

DAY 6: 21 OCT - ATITLAN LAKE. FLY TO FLORES (B)
We’ll have this morning in Atitlan before flying to Tikal where we’ll stay in Tikal National Park in the Peten Guatemala. The hotel sits on the edge of the jungle and is only a ten-minute walk from the Mayan Ruins.

DAY 7: 22 OCT - SUNRISE TOUR IN TIKAL - FLORES (B,L)
Discover the Tikal National Park and appreciate the jungle from the top of a Mayan pyramid. Our tour starts at 4:00 am, visiting Temple IV, the best view of one the most amazing sunrises we’ll ever see. Watch the awakening of the creatures of the Maya jungle and we’ll see and hear the jungle and its resident fauna come to life, with cheerful bird songs. After breakfast we’ll tour the archaeological site, visiting the main Plaza and the Temple of the Great Jaguar, central acropolis, Mundo Perdido and temple IV from where we can observe the majesty of the city and the emerald green jungle. After lunch we’ll fly to Guatemala for our overnight stay.

DAY 8: 23 OCT - TO COSTA RICA (B)
Fly to Costa Rica where we’ll be met and taken to our hotel. Converted from a Tropical Victorian mansion, the hotel exudes the warmth and comfort of a private home, with original art and Spanish fountains gracing the halls and atriums.

DAY 9: 24 OCT - SAN JOSE (B,L)
We’ll spend the day being guided around San Jose and its surroundings. After learning about its history and culture in downtown, we’ll then visit the principal monuments, parks, and the heart of San José.

DAY 10: 25 OCT - TORTUGUERO (B,L,D)
A morning drive through the Braulio Carrillo National Park showcases the biodiversity of this astonishing, protected area, and leads us to a delicious typical breakfast, with some of the locally grown fruits. A boat ride lets us appreciate this exotic paradise as we glide along through the Tortuguero canals to our lodge. We’ll visit the picturesque town, the green turtle center and the beach, before returning to the lodge for dinner.

DAY 11: 26 OCT - EXPLORING THE FOREST (B,L,D)
Tortuguero is a network of lakes, rivers and canals that are a great for spotting wildlife such as birds, monkeys, two and three-toed sloths, American crocodiles and caimans. The canals also provide shelter to endangered animals such as the Oriental Indian Manatee, crocodiles, a large variety of crustaceans and about 30 species of sweet water fish, including the Gaspar, considered a living fossil. Today we’ll take a guided morning walk through the forest, and this afternoon explore the canals in small boats.

DAY 12: 27 OCT - TORTUGUERO – CHOCOLATE - SARAPIQUI (B,L,D)
We’ll take the boat back to Caño Blanco and let our taste buds guide us to a chocolate producing factory, stopping for lunch on the way. We’ll enter across a suspension bridge to a former cacao-tree plantation, where our guide will reveal the secrets of transforming cacao fruit into chocolate. Watch the process, and sample the final product, organic rainforest chocolate! Our private hotel is surrounded by the La Palma River, an ideal refuge for birds, and with panoramic views of the volcano.

DAY 13: 28 OCT - COSTA RICAN CULTURE (B,L)
A day all about Costa Rican culture. Delve in to the traditions, and the way of life in the country today, combining the beauty of nature with the local population. Visit the market to buy local ingredients then help prepare them for lunch. We’ll stroll through orchards and gardens, and help prepare Tico-style coffee and traditional corn tortillas. We’ll spend time with a local farming family at their authentic country house, visit the rural settlement of Sonafluca and watch some folk dances from children in a local school.

DAY 14: 29 OCT - QUAKERS, COFFEE AND SUGAR (B,L,D)
This morning we visit Monteverde, established in the 1950’s by a group of Quakers from the USA, who have devoted themselves to producing milk and quality cheeses. Then we’ll visit a coffee farm to see how the delicious Monteverde coffee is made. Sugar production is also on the list including the extraction of guaro, a Costa Rican alcohol made from sugarcane and, traditional Costa Rican “sobado” (type of fudge) and caramel. Continue to our hotel for the next 2 nights.

DAY 15: 30 OCT - MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST RESERVE (B,L,D)
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, is one of the most famous conservation areas in Central America. A tropical rain forest, called a cloud forest due to its elevation (1,400m) and characterised by nearly 100% humidity. Here in Monteverde, the warm trade winds from the Atlantic condense to form clouds, bathing the forest in a constant soft mist. It is home to rare and unusual wildlife, such as jaguars and pumas, and over 450 species of birds including the stunningly beautiful quetzal birds.

The Treetop Walkway is a 3km trail through the cloud forest, making it both the longest and strongest bridge system in Costa Rica. The treetop walkways are a fantastic way to view the forest and with our guide will be a great experience.

DAY 16: 31 OCT - CARARA NATIONAL PARK. (B,L,D)
Carara is one of Costa Rica’s most popular National Parks, in large part due to its proximity to San José. We walk the trails of a transitional forest, a cross between a dry tropical reserve and humid jungle. It’s the home of many mammals, as well as the rare scarlet macaw and a vast number of species of plants and trees. Observe enormous crocodiles basking along the side of the Tárcoles River. Our hotel is perched high above the Pacific on twelve acres of tropical rainforest.

DAY 17: 1 NOV - DAMAS ISLAND ESTUARY. (B,L,D)
A boat tour will take us through the complex and beautiful estuary system of Damas Island. Our naturalist interpreter will describe a variety of biological relationships between many organisms in this delicate habitat, such as white faced monkeys, herons, snakes, crocodiles, iguanas, just to name a few!

This evening we’ll recap and remember our fabulous journey with a farewell dinner.

DAY 18: 2 NOV - SAN JOSE - DEPART (B)
Today we’ll drive back to San Jose airport (approximately 3 hrs) for our onward travel.

END OF ARRANGEMENTS

Inclusions:
18 day private tour
Dave Best as your Tour Leader
All (3) internal flights
English speaking guides throughout
Good quality accommodation with daily breakfast
Entrance fees for monuments and National Parks
35 Meals as listed (shown as 17-B,11-L,7-D)
One bottle of water per day in Guatemala, and a souvenir Oxo-biodegradable water bottle in Costa Rica
Gratuities for local guides and drivers
LIMITED TO JUST 16 PLACES

Guatemala and Costs Rica

Dates and costs
16 October - 2 November, 2017
Cost per person AUD$8,980 twin share
Single AUD$10,750

Best Travels, 82 Bellevue Street, CAMMERAY, NSW 2062
tel (61+) 2 9929 9391 besttravels@ozemail.com.au
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