Belize, Guatemala and Ecuador - Doing too much?

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Jul 28th, 2018, 12:04 PM
  #1
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Belize, Guatemala and Ecuador - Doing too much?

I am trying to buy my flights for a 3 1/2 week vacation this winter and would love feedback on the proposed itinerary. I know it is always nice to see a lot - but, also hate to feel so rushed that i don't have time to relax - and, I will be travelling with an 8 year old and a 76 year old ... I am afraid the following itinerary might be too ambitious and would love input. Thank you in advance!

Dec 15 – Fly to Belize City- take Shuttle /boat to beach
Dec 15, 16, 17, 18 Ambergis Caye or Caulder Caye
Dec 19 boat and bus to San Ignacio
Dec 19, 20, 21 Jungle Lodge in San Ignacio
Dec 22 - trip to Tikal (Guatemala) –
Dec 22 & 23 Stay near Tikal
Dec 24 Drive Tikal to Flores – fly to Guatemala City – drive to Antigua
Dec 24, 25, 26 Antigua
Dec 27, 28 Lake Atitcan
Dec 29 – Drive to Guatemala City for flight to Quito
Dec 29, 30 Quito
Dec 31, Jan 1, 2, 3, 4 Galapagos tour
Jan 5 Fly to Quito
Jan 6 Fly home
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Jul 28th, 2018, 12:19 PM
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It's feasible. It feels like you're tripling the cost in order to have less than a week for Ecuador/Galapagos. I'm not sure I could feel it was worth it to add so much hassle and cost for only four or five nights in Galapagos. If you have the money to spend and everyone's game, go for it!

If it was up to me, I would save Ecuador for when I had more time to spend. I would stick with Guatemala and Belize, adding more time to Lake Atitlán. Have a great trip, whatever you decide!
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Jul 29th, 2018, 02:03 PM
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I commented already on your land-based itinerary question for Galapagos. I am assuming that cost is not an object for the OP.

Did you find any kind of land based Galapagos tour?

Usually they way the lay out formal tours is your last day is the day you fly back to the mainland, same for the first day. I probably would not add in any extra time in Quito, personally, just too congested to get to and from the airport.

So on the 29th stay near the Quito airport, fly to Galapagos on the 30th, just hang out in Santa Cruz Island until the morning of the 5th, when you fly back to Quito (or Guayaquil).

I don't know where you live but you might find the flight from Galapagos via Guayaquil instead of Quito works as an option on your return.

Last edited by mlgb; Jul 29th, 2018 at 02:43 PM.
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Jul 29th, 2018, 05:39 PM
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If you double your time in Ecuador as you imply in your land-based tour thread, maybe worth it if you can resolve your seasickness issues effectively as I did; that thread is here and I responded at some length.
Galapagos - Land based tour

Land-based tours are a very pale comparison to a boat trip - for distance and especially restrictive regulations, you can't visit most of the most awesome places from any of the main islands and esp if you choose 1. When you do go out on visits you'd be pounded into the surf for hours on very small boats, honestly sounded much worse to me than anything we experienced on our 16 passenger boat the week we went (7 nights on a boat plus 4 or 5 more in Santa Cruz. We went in April, a perfect shoulder season which I'd recommend if you don't go in December.

There isn't anything I'd leave out of the Belize/Guatemala parts and I stick with my opinion that it would be better to save Ecuador for another trip, but obviously it's your call. Have a great trip, whatever you decide!
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Jul 30th, 2018, 06:35 AM
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Pace of the trip seems okay, but Ecuador seems like a random inclusion there. Not particularly convenient to travel there from Guatemala City (or anywhere else in Central America besides Panama City and San Salvador).

Then again, I've never fully understood the touristic appeal of the Galapagos--there's a LOT more biodiversity in Ecuador's rainforests and cloudforests than there is on those islands.
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Jul 30th, 2018, 07:53 AM
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I felt the same way about including Galapagos on my first Ecuador trip, RAC, but on a return trip I enjoyed the Angelito "A" cruise, timed for the mating ritual of the Waved Albatross, and seeing the three Boobies and two Frigatebirds during nesting/mating.. Plus you get a few interesting gulls..swallow-tailed and lava. For most people it's the lack of innate fear that lets them get so close to the wildlife that is part of the attraction. The island endemism of course draws the twitchers.

Several of the islands have interesting topographic features and good swimming on Espanola.

Disclaimer I used miles for the internal flights from Quito, so it was only the park entry fee that I paid. And I had a full month

Last edited by mlgb; Jul 30th, 2018 at 08:00 AM.
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Jul 30th, 2018, 08:34 AM
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It was a tip from you almost 3 years ago that pointed me toward the Angelito, mlgb. ˇMil gracias!
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Jul 31st, 2018, 09:24 AM
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BTW it isn't convenient to fly from many places other than Miami to Ecuador, but if they transit through San Salvador on Avianca it's usually an efficient connection.
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Aug 4th, 2018, 03:29 PM
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Thank you so much for all of the comments and suggestions. I just booked the flights and am finalizing the itinerary -- in order to get the best prices, I actually turned the whole itinerary around and we are beginning in Ecuador. So, now it looks like this:

Dec 14 – fly to Quito - arrive 12:30 am
Dec 15 – 22 - Gadventures Tour of Galapagos for families - I am hoping there will be other kids on the tour!
Dec 22 – Explore Quito - move to hotel near the airport
Dec 23 – Fly to Guatemala City - depart 5:00am – land 9:15am
Have driver meet us at airport and drive to Antigua
Dec 23, 24, 25 , 26, 27, 28, 29– Antigua & Lake Atitcan
Dec. 30 – Fly to Flores (6:00 am- arrive 7:00 am)
Have driver meet us at the airport to tour Tikal
Dec 30 – stay in Tikal - http://www.tikalinn.com
Dec 31 - Drive to Belize border - and get picked up by jungle lodge
Dec. 31, Jan 1, 2, 3 – San Ignacio jungle lodge
Jan 4 - drive to BZE to catch ferry to either Ambergis Caye or Caulder Caye
Jan 4, 5, 6 - Ambergis Caye or Caulder Caye
Jan 7 – Mom and daughter fly home- 1:35 pm departure

A few questions for folks:
- Since our departure is sooo early from both the Quito and Guatemala City airports, I am thinking we should stay somewhere close to the airports the night before. What do you think? Any suggestions of places to stay? Or, do you think it is ok to drive in from Quito city or Antigua to the aiport for 5am/6am flights?
- I am assuming we can all stay on either Ambergis Caye or Caulder Caye until our last day as my mom and daughter's flight is not until 1:35 -- do you think we will be ok getting to BZE airport on the day of the flight?
- I am than going to head out for another 2 weeks of adventure -- The first few days I will be on my own any thoughts on Colombia or Panama as a woman travelling alone?

Thank you again for all of your suggestions
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Aug 4th, 2018, 05:38 PM
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Does GAdventure include a tour of Quito? If you just want a quick overview there is a Hop On Hop Off bus.

There is now a Wyndham AT the airport, so if the price works for you, I'd look at that. Find out what time you need to check in for your flights..Galapagos takes extra time. Does G want you all at the same hotel in Quito?

They say 3 hours for international flights, so you need to be at the airport by 2am or so. Add about 45 minutes to 1hour to drive from Quito.. The JW Marriott is in a pretty good location for heading to the airport, the rooms are big and they don't charge for children. If you stay closer to the airport allow 20 to 30 minutes for a shuttle or taxi. There is a wide range of options, the one I used last time is Posada Mirolindo,

https://www.posadamirolindo.com/

There is luggage storage at the airport and the building across from the terminal is nice for hanging out if you decide to do that. There is also some kind of lounge outside security as well as VIP lounges past the gates although the fee for two people and luggage storage may be as much as a hotel room.

Do you speak Spanish? If so, Colombia would be great. English isn't widely spoken though. I really enjoyed Medellin and the coffee region (Jardin). Bogota has some great museums and the Graffiti Tour. Cartagena has a "Pirates of the Caribbean" feel in the old town but for me it's just too hot!

Be aware that Colombians also travel around the holidays and you may find airports and small towns within easy reach of the big cities fully booked! This would likely apply to Villa de Leyva near Bogota..but do a little more research on when the holidays are over there.

Last edited by mlgb; Aug 4th, 2018 at 05:49 PM.
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Aug 4th, 2018, 09:36 PM
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That works, more transitions than I'd consider fun but it's your trip. I would definitely sleep near the airport in both Quito and Guatemala City instead of an hour or so away, especially with such crazy early flights. We stayed in an Airbnb place in Pifo, 10 or 15 minutes from the airport, something like "Entire apartment in Pifo", bright orange brick building in some of the photos. We loved it, really cheap, owner drove us to the airport. In Guatemala City there's a neighborhood 2 minutes from the airport that has a number of lodging options; Dos Lunas is a good budget choice and we love mid-range Villa Toscana - had a great stay there earlier this week.

Your mom and daughter should be able to stay on either Caye Caulker (with a 'k') or Ambergris Caye the night before their flight home. Happy trails!
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