Everything starts with the offers we can usually see for
travel packages in summer to Mayan Riviera which can be as low as 600€
for being a week in a fantastic all inclusive resort in that paradise.
The trick is in the necessary tours to the
magnificent Mayan ruins or the spectacular landscapes from the cenotes
which use to be overpriced from these resorts. My plan was taking one
of these packages and doing the tours by my own with a rented car.
And that would be the plan, so simple, if I hadn’t
found out Tikal, which changed everything for this travel.
As it is not possible visiting Tikal in a one day
tour from the Mayan Riviera, we looked after a tour of more days, which
would make the fix all-inclusive resort stay uninterested. It is
necessary to get into Belize, which offers its own attractions, but
reaching Guatemala by car is too expensive because of the needed
The solution appeared when looking for an
itinerary, arriving to Belize and leaving from Cancun. This way, we
could go to San Ignacio, close to Guatemala border, from where a bunch
of tours to Tikal are leaving every day. Then we could go to Caye
Caulker, the small island which is the main touristic spot in Belize,
and we can easily reach Mexico from it by ferry, going to Mayan Riviera
and concentrating the visits there in a few days.
We still added one more destination, out of
Caribbean Sea and Mayan ruins, when checking out the wonders Guatemala
can offer to the traveler and finding direct flights to this country by
less than 400€ the round trip. This way, we start our travel In the
highlights of Guatemala.
The original flights forced us to spend nights in
USA cities as Atlanta or New York, but we could avoid that with our
definitive route. The extra day in Miami, then, is our choice.
The domestic flights and the organization in our
visits took San Ignacio out of the table. This has been our last spot
Finally, the budget is around 2500€ in total for
the both of us, which seems to be far from the offers to Mayan Riviera
but only in appearance as:
- The travel is on destination peak season, with higher rates
than in summer, when the hurricane season makes them go lower. We also
will enjoy the pleasure of going to the beach in winter.
- The offers from Spain are based on the needing of filling
the charter flights for June, July and August, but they’re not in the
rest of the year. For March, these offers are around 1000€ per person
in the cheapest hotel, which is quite closer to our budget.
- These offers are for 7 days, as we’re going to be there
twice that number of days, and visiting two more countries.
So, our itinerary through Central America,
starting with an arrival at Guatemala City by the afternoon was like
1: Arrival at Guatemala City and direct drive to
Antigua. (Lower B)
2: Visiting Antigua and drive to Lake Atitlan.
3: Tour in Lake Atitlan and possible visit to Volcano Pacaya. Night at hotel close to the airport.
4: Flight to Flores, transfer to Tikal and spend the day in
the park. (Central B)
5: Flight to Belize City and ferry to Caye Caulker.
6: Tours in Caye Caulker.
7: Ferry to Chetumal (A), in Mexico, and bus to Playa del
8: Visits to Coba and Xcaret.
9: Entire day in Xel Ha.
10: Visiting Chichen Itza and night in Valladolid. (C)
11: Visiting Valladolid and Ek Balam and drive to Cancun
airport(D). Arrival at Miami by night.
12: Tours in Miami and night flight to Barcelona.
This itinerary is pretty optimized and allows us visiting all
the must-dos of the region in less than two weeks.
The definitive route plan (number of day and where
we sleep) is the following, starting at March 4th of 2014:
2: Lake Atitlan
3: Guatemala City
5 y 6: Caye Caulker
7, 8 y 9: Playa del Carmen
The map shows the route with the trips by land in
blue, the flights in red and the sea trips in green.
A lot of changes have been in the flights due mainly to the
changes on the most of the companies along the month we were looking at
them. We started with a direct return flight with Air Europa by 780€
The travel became an itinerary when we found out Delta Airlines allowed
us to fly to Belize City and returning from Cancun by around 600€, with
the handicap of needing to spend first night in Atlanta and last night
in New York.
When Guatemala appeared in the plan,
offers by Iberia flights by 395€ return flights for this country seemed
to make a revolution but, surprisingly, there are just a few options
for flying between Guatemala City and Cancun, so they are expensive in
money and also in time. The cheapest was spending an entire day and
night in a couple of Mexican airports by 300€. It was almost the same
cost than the transatlantic flights!! And only for a one way flight!! I
could find some offer close to that rate linking in Costa Rica or
Panama City, but those are nonsense.
us arrive to Guatemala too keeping the rates for Belize, so I was close
to take these flights and assuming the extra nights in the US cities.
Somehow, the week I was going to make the purchase I saw Delta raised
their rates at the same time American Airlines got lower their flights.
We could have our flights with link in Miami the both of the ways by
650€. The definitive solution was near.
option appeared in the websites for flights search and it is with a
direct going flight by Iberia and a return one by one of the airlines
in the group, as American Airlines or British Airways. For a reason I
cannot understand this solution is not appearing in any of the own
airlines web sites, so I ended buying the tickets through the website
with the better price: Viajes el Corte Ingles.
finally purchased a flight to Guatemala City with change of plane in
Madrid and return flight from Cancun with a 24 hours stopover in Miami.
These last ones are British Airways flights operated by American
Airlines. We’ve paid a total of 1240€ for these flights.
We still needed two more flights which were fixed in date and
time due to the specific of our itinerary, so I took them immediately
after having the main ones:
For the one to Belize City, I’ve checked the daily flight operated by
the small airlines of this country: Tropic Air. As I couldn’t find good
alternatives, I purchased them directly in their website by 128.5 US$
- For the early flight from Guatemala City for
visiting Tikal, I couldn’t find more valid options either than the one
from the local airlines, TAG, by 140$ per person. Somehow, deeper
investigation, I found out I could buy cheaper tickets for the same
flight through the website of Avianca airlines. There rate was 114$.
They add some small charges to that rate later on, but in Tag website
they do the same.
Finally, then, flights are like this:
Going by Iberia
03/04/2014 BCN 09:10 MAD
03/04/2014 MAD 11:40 GUA
And return by American Airlines by 1240€ (620€
03/14/2014 CUN 16:15 MIA
03/15/2014 MIA 18:10 BCN
Domestic flight in Guatemala by Avianca by 190€
03/07/2014 GUA 06:30 FRS
Guatemala to Belize by Tropic Air by 210€ (105€
03/08/2014 FRS 08:30 BZE
We used booking.com
to find the appropriate hotel for the most of the places. In Playa del
Carmen we searched off the list of all-inclusive resorts as we’re going
to spend the entire days out on our tours, so we looked for something
more practical, in the 5th Avenue of the city: Xtudio Comfort Hotel. 3 nights by
79$ each: 237$ in total.
We’ve decided spending the last night in
Valladolid in order of having just a short drive to Cancun airport,
there we’ve chosen Hotel Mesón del Marqués, with
views to the cathedral, by 84$.
We already knew which of the three lodges inside
Tikal Park we preferred: Jaguar Inn, Booking.com
offered a better rate than the lodge web site itself, so we’ve booked
one of the two available rooms by 518 Quetzals (GTQ), which is around
In our three
nights route through Antigua and Lake Atitlan we changed our first plan
of spending all three nights in Antigua to something more convenient as
spending every night in the place to visit and, as our flight out to
the North is very early, a7 6:30 AM, spending the previous night in the
closest quality hotel to the airport. These conditions seem to be met
by Hotel Casa Blanca Inn, where we’ve
booked one night by 332 GTQ (31€).
We’ll spend the first night in Antigua and the
second in Lake Atitlan finally, as we’re going to spend the day there.
For Antigua our choice has been Hotel
Palacio de Doña Leonor, where we’ve booked one night by 917
GTQ (85€). In the lake we could see good rates for allocations in the
towns around the lake, but we’ve chosen to be in Panajachel where,
although rates are a bit higher there, is the main town, reached by
road and where the boats to the different towns start.
Hotel y Centro de
Convenciones Jardines del Lago has beautiful views
of the lake and is located just besides the dock. We’ve got one night
in there by 680 GTQ (63€).
I haven’t found any hotel search web site with one
in Caye Caulker, the small island in Belize. I’ve used Tripadvisor and
local web sites to choose one because customer’s review: Barefoot
When I call them in December they have no ocean view rooms, only a
couple of lateral ones and the suite is available. I’ve booked two
nights in one of their cheaper rooms by 69$ per night, from which I’ve
paid the first night as deposit for my reservation.
At last, we go for Miami hotel and soon I realize
the allocation is expensive there. In Miami Beach rates seem even
higher. There are just a few of them lower than 100€ in the Northern
part of Miami Beach and none in the popular South Beach. We finally
take Baltic Hotel, but when I’m going
to book there through Booking.com, it is no longer available for the
day we need it. Fortunately, it is still available in Budgetplaces.com
– internet mysteries – and we finally book it from there by 115$, from
which I pay a deposit of 17.25$.
This makes a total cost for hotels of around 655€:
237$+84$ in Mexico plus 138$ in Belize and 115$ in Miami
48€+31€+85€+63€ in Guatemala = 227€
We’ve got an average of 60€ by night, which is
quite amazing considering the quality of the hotels.
We need a car for our route for the first days in Guatemala
and also for the tours and last stages of the itinerary the last days
in Mexico. We’ve thought about renting a car for the day in Miami but
we can solve our visits there with one tour and avoid some headaches.
Looking at the couple of local agencies in
Guatemala for car rental and the known international franchises we’ve
because of price, insurance and deposit. This last point is quite
important for us as we must have available around 1000€ for being
locked for a month because of deposits from the both car rentals.
There, the cheapest car is a Kia Picanto, by 39$
per day. Adding the insurance with reduced excess to 475$, taxes and a
free service of having a local cell phone, the total is 111.55$. We’ll
pick it up in La Aurora airport at our arrival and will deliver it
there too two days later, the evening before our early flight to North.
For Mexico we've thought about looking and comparing
conditions and rates once in Playa del Carmen, as we'll have time
enough for it there.
fix expenses are coming from the transfers mainly: Water taxi from
Belize City to Caye Caulker is 10$ and from Caye Caulker to Chetumal is
45$. Therefore, we must keep ready 110$ for those.
In Chetumal we must take an ADO bus
to Playa del Carmen. It costs 294 MXN, which means around 30€ for the
both of us.
There are other activities and tickets which will
be commented in the daily pages.
On despite of that, we can explain what we’ve done
for a specific activity: the entire day in Xel Ha with swimming with
dolphins. It is one of the more expensive activities and we’ve
preferred to buy it by internet as it seems we can save some dollars
this way. We’ve found the best rate in Delphinus
web site: 298$ in total, two persons, All-inclusive admission to the
park, 45 minutes with the dolphins and even the transfer from/to hotel.
Detailed plan, then, is like this: