Hi, all -
Here's what we have planned for this summer, 5-6 weeks in all - opinions welcome!!
Stacey: mom/wife/group leader/trip planner
Carlos: 24-year-old son
Mariah and Greg: 26-year-old daughter and her husband
Eric (Mike's brother) and Kathy and their 3 boys, aged 12, 15, and 17 (henceforth known as BIL's family)
Mid July Carlos and I will head to Guatemala along with 13 other (mostly educators plus a few of their teenagers) for a Spanish study trip. We'll arrive a few days ahead of the group to have time to visit an orphanage and deliver play and school items; this is a big deal for us because Carlos was born in Guatemala and joined our family through adoption when he was 4; it will be his 1st orphanage visit as a nonorphan and his 1st return to the highlands since he left. We'll stay at Casa Cristina in Antigua.
I looked into hiring all the ground transport plus the Tikal flights through one agent since there are 15 of us - turns out it's much cheaper than patching together shuttles and buses; I think we'll go with Adrenalina Tours.
GROUP TRIP TO GUATEMALA:
:: A week in Antigua for Spanish study (Academia Antigüeña), homestays, and activities/adventures: volcano hike, traditional cooking, weaving, and dance lessons, local ruins and villages
:: Week-end visit to Chichicastenango for the artisan and produce markets and church activities (Hotel Girón)
:: A week in San Pedro La Laguna, Atitlán for Spanish study (Cooperativa School), homestays, civil rights speakers and films, salsa lessons, and volunteering in local schools and programs for folks with disabilities
:: Return to Antigua for 1 night (Posada La Merced)
:: Late morning flight to Flores, 1 night in the park at Tikal (Tikal Inn), explore ruins late afternoon/evening, early morning to early afternoon
:: Shuttle to Flores for 1 night (Hotel Mesa de Los Mayas)
:: Group flies back to GUA and home (a few will extend their trips in other directions); Carlos and I head to BELIZE, probably on a Linea Dorada bus to Belize City, but maybe local buses with a stop in San Ignacio for lunch
:: Carlos and I meet BIL's family and Mike (separate flights 10 minutes apart) at BZE (airport near Belize City)
:: Shuttle to the Community Baboon Sanctuary for 2 nights (Nature Resort), hike,village visits, black howler monkeys, maybe a night canoe trip to spot gators
:: Day in between head to Orange Walk and do the boat trip up the New River to the Lamanai Ruins
:: Head to San Ignacio for 2 nights via the Belize Zoo, maybe lunch at The Trek Stop to see the butterfly enclosure again, visit with the owners, and hike to Xunantunich (Aguada Hotel)
:: Day in between do the ATM Cave trip with Pacz Tours
:: Head to Hopkins for 1 night (Hopkins Inn). We've decided to shuttle there so we can pick up Mariah and Greg at the Dangriga airport on the way - group of 10 now! I have some friends who were Peace Corps volunteers in Hopkins and we enjoy spending time with their friends. BIL's family will be taking a load of books down for them and we'll have a gathering at the school to celebrate; evening drumming
:: Group splits: BIL's family heads to South Water Caye for 4 nights followed by Caves Branch for 3 nights. Mike, Carlos, Mariah, Greg, and I head to Glover's Atoll Resort for 6 nights for diving, snorkeling, flyfishing, hammocks, and all the coconuts we can eat
:: 1 more night in Hopkins (Hopkins Inn)
:: Mariah and Greg will head to San Ignacio to meet up with a man who held a drawing for a free trip to Belize that Greg won; they'll stay at Cahal Pech Village Resort and visit the Cahal Pech, Xunantunich, and Caracol ruins, Rio Frio Cave, Big Rock Waterfalls, and Lamanai, then end up on Caye Caulker for 4 nights. We'll stop at Caves Branch for BIL's family enroute to Belize City, and ferry to Caye Caulker where we'll get to see Mariah and Greg again before we head home (Sailwinds for BIL's family, Auxillou Beach Suites for the rest of us); on Caulker more diving (Frenchie's), flyfishing, and a sailboat snorkeling trip (Raggamuffins)
:: Haven't decided yet if we'll ferry or fly to Belize City for our flight home
Phew!! It's been an adventure planning this trip - can hardly stand the wait! HAPPY TRAILS!
Guatemala/Belize Itinerary for your feedback (thanks in advance)
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