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The Maya Treasure-Trail

make some sacrifices in mexico, guatemala, honduras & belize! - Trip for singles

Book From   € 1,599,-
GROUP SIZE: 4-24 | 22 DAYS

The Maya Treasure-Trail

Travel through spectacular scenery including volcanoes and lowland jungles, mangrove forests and picturesque beaches. The Maya have left behind many cultural treasures in the mountains and jungles of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. The diversity of the population is wonderful: the Latinos in their elegant colonial towns, colourful Mayans with their busy markets along the coast and the relaxed coastal-dwelling Creoles in Belize. During this tour you will see some amazing pyramids and temples and you will become acquainted with the present inhabitants of this region. A trip to never forget!

Travel documents

Passport:

It is your own responsibility to ensure you have a passport valid for at least 6 months after your date of return.

Visas:

It is your own responsibility to ensure you have any visas if required. Visas are not usually needed for any of the countries visited on this trip but please check in advance through a site such as this one. If you should require any visas then please contact your nearest respective embassies or alternatively, you can use a visa agency like http://uk.cibt.com/.

Additional costs and pocket money

When passing through the various border crossings there is often a certain amount (usually between 5 and 25 USD) to be paid for border/visa fees. After crossing the border in Chetumal (Mexico), you have to pay perhaps 200 pesos for a visa (you get a transit visa when crossing the border between Guatemala and Mexico which should be valid when reentering Mexico, but this is not always accepted at the border crossing in Chetumal). When leaving Belize you must pay at least 37.50 dollars for the departure tax and conservation fee. Tips are approximately € 50 for the whole trip. The prices are approximate and subject to change.

Accommodation and transport

Transport
In Mexico we will be using public transport in the form of excellent buses with reserved seats. In Guatemala and Honduras, and partly in Belize, you have access to a private bus, which can be used to stop off at beautiful places in nature along the way. For the Rio Dulce trip we hire boats and to go from Belize City - Caye Caulker - Chetumal we make use of speedboats. The transfers to and from the airport are not included.

Accommodation
During the tour you stay in hotels in 2-person rooms with private bathroom. Most hotels have a garden, sometimes a restaurant and some have a pool. In Río Dulce, it is simple accommodation with shared facilities. Beyond that, we sleep in nice middle class hotels. Travellers who book alone will share a room with another participant. We of course keep in mind to pair you with someone of the same sex. If you would like a room for yourself for the entire trip then this is possible. You will need to indicate this on your booking and a supplement will be charged.

Festivals

SEMANA SANTA/HOLY WEEK IN ANTIGUA

In Antigua, Guatemala is Semana Santa (Holy Week before Easter) a colourful affair. During this holy week thousands of people of Antigua commemorate the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, ending with a big celebration on Easter Sunday.

Purple dresses
The celebration of Semana Santa is descended from the arrival of Spanish missionaries from Seville, who introduced Christianity. Palm Sunday is the last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of holy week. It celebrates the entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem. On this day in Antigua, the images of Jesus and Mary are carried through the streets, followed by groups of people who are dressed in purple dresses. This repeats itself throughout the week.

Carpets of flowers
On Good Friday (but often in the days before) the 'Alfombras' are made by the people of Antigua. These carpets of flowers, fruits and other greenery colour the streets and spread a pleasant aroma. Often Roman -, Maya - or colonial motifs are processed. Very early in the morning they prepare themselves for the condemnation of Christ by dressing up as Pontius Pilates, Roman soldiers or spectators. A statue of Christ with the cross on his back is held up against the sunrise and walked through the streets. In the early afternoon this is swapped for a version after his death.

On Easter day the silent mourning of Antigua is ended and everyone joins in the festivities. Fireworks adorn the sky above the streets of Antigua and music sounds out.

The travel itinerary during the festival could be adapted.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS

Mexico's famed celebration commemorating the dead is a lively, personal and touching celebration: "los dias de los muertos". It is a period in which the living commemorate their deceased ancestors, and where the dead have the opportunity to visit the homes and the families they have left. The party is in some places spectacular, with street festivals, parades, handing out of gifts and plenty to eat and drink. The intensity of the Mexican attitude toward death can be confusing and overwhelming for anyone not familiar with it.
The origins of the celebration of the Days of the Dead is set in the mythological world of Mexico from pre-Hispanic times. At that time there was a whole month dedicated to the spirits of the deceased. Formerly this feast was celebrated in July-August, but with the advent of the Catholic settlers, the festivities moved to Catholic holidays All Saints and All Souls Day on November 1 and 2.
In most areas of modern Mexico, there are actually two Days of the Dead: Dia de los Angelitos, celebrated on November 1 which is dedicated to the souls of deceased children, and Dias de Los Muertos itself, that is on November 2 when the spirits of deceased adults are celebrated. The festivities sometimes overlap with Halloween, on October 31. Such as with Christmas or Halloween in other parts of the world, preparations begin for the festival of the Days of the Dead for weeks in advance. Stores are overloaded with decorative paper skulls, morbid lanterns, costumes, plastic skeletons and candy. Food is all home cooked and special commemorative altars are erected everywhere. Food and drink are an increasingly important part to the celebration. In some areas, entire families go on extensive picnics in local cemeteries. Also they leave food behind on the graves, next to the pictures of the deceased and copal (sort of incense). Many people take radios back to the cemetery, which now are part of the tradition with the family friendly singalong songs blaring about the cemeteries. The children are fully involved in the festivities. For them it is a kind of Christmas, they get all kinds of (spooky) sweets and surprises, from marzipan coffins to chocolate skeletons, toy skulls or dancing skeleton marionettes.
The Dia de los Angelitos is a sad affair. Favourite toys and other objects that recall the deceased children are laid on alters. The spirits of the young dead are then invited to come and visit and participate in the party. Often there is an extra seat for them put out at the table.
The second day, the Dia de Los Muertos, is the most important day of the feast. In many places on the main squares and streets it is celebrated with street festivals and parades with bright colours, uplifting music and dance. In the evening, there are some places lit by candlelight processions. In other villages such as San Cristobal de las Casas, the festival is celebrated in a subdued manor. A large part of the day is generally spent in the cemetery, and in the evening there is a traditional communal meal, where the "bread of the dead (pan de los muertos) is consumed. Often this bread contains a small bone or something else of the deceased, and those that get the aforementioned piece are considered lucky, because it is seen as a sign of prosperity and happiness!


Tour leader

Our tours are led by trained, local English speaking tour leaders. We know that our travellers appreciate being accompanied by these local tour leaders who, compared to their counterparts (living outside of the destination) have more detailed knowledge of their country. He/she knows the area well, can provide background information and ensure that the trip goes smoothly. He/she knows what to do if something were to go wrong, but is not a "walking encyclopedia". Therefore we would like to refer you to study a good travel guide (book) in advance of travel.

Your tour leader understandably expects a tip at the end, if she/he has completed the job well. Shoestring pay the tour guides a wage which is higher than that of most adventurous travel companies. Our guideline for tipping is between € 1, - and € 2, - per passenger per day (the equivalent thereof).

Trip rating

This tour is classified as Category B

The difficulty of our travels varies greatly. Added to this is the fact that travel difficulty is a very personal perception. To give an impression of the difficulty of a particular holiday we have developed a classification system.

Category A: Light travel for everyone to do. Short distances, good hotels, travel at a slow pace.
Category B: For everyone to do as well. Sometimes long distances. Good hotels and camping facilities, sometimes an adventurous overnight experience, travel at a normal pace.
Category C: Good to do for anyone who prepares themself well and is flexible. There are tougher parts of the journey, such as longer distances or walking tours. Several nights can be spent in basic accommodation.
Category D: A relatively difficult journey, travelling long distances, often primitive accommodation or tents, and challenging walking tours.

The 22 day Mexican Mayan route is a Category B tour. It can be made by any reasonably healthy individual. In the summer the trip is considerably more difficult than during the rest of the year. Although in the cities we stay in simple medium-priced hotels, remember that you are travelling in a developing country with much lower living standards than you are used to at home. Also, roads may be temporarily blocked because of the weather or owing to their state of repair, in which case a detour is unavoidable. A flexible and positive attitude is just as important as a good physical condition.

Nature of the trip
In the mountains and jungles of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize the Mayans left behind countless archaeological treasures. During this round trip, staying in hotels, you will encounter the most amazing temples and pyramids all bearing witness to their ancient heritage. You will get to know the locals: Latinos living in elegant colonial towns, colourful Indians and, along the coast, the Creoles. The dozens of volcanoes in the mountains of Guatemala are spectacular and the lowland jungle, mangrove forests and picturesque beaches of Mexico and Belize are magnificent. In short, this trip boasts a fabulous variety of views, cultures and people.

Sustainability

We know that travelling to remote corners of this planet has its effects. At Shoestring we really try to make an effort to keep our impact to a minimum. We try to avoid the use of plastic water bottles on our treks through Nepal and we do not dump our litter during our trips through Africa. All of our staff have been trained to take special care to ensure we make as little impact on the environment as possible. 

Furthermore we support a lot of local projects which are mostly related to clean drinking water or making sure that children get vaccinated against illnesses such as tuberculosis. On most tours you will be able to visit some of the projects we support through our local agents. Find out more about the different projects Shoestring are involved with, how you can make a difference and our environmental policies here

Insurance

Travel insurance, including medical repatriation insurance, is mandatory. It is not included with our packages and it is your responsibility to purchase suitable travel insurance. Make sure that it covers all the activities that you are likely to undertake, such as rafting and trekking. Many ‘free’ insurances that come with banking packages, credit cards etc, are quite often inadequate to cover you on our tours, so make sure you check the policy before you travel. You should enter your travel insurance details via your my.shoestring account and you are required to give a copy of your insurance policy to your tour leader upon arrival. Without proper insurance like this, you will not be allowed to join the tour as we will not be able to respond adequately in case of an emergency if you do not have the right insurance.

Address

Shoestring International
Entrada 223
1114 AA Amsterdam-Duivendrecht, The Netherlands.
www.shoestring.com                    

You can call us on number +31 20 6850203 or +44 (0)1306 744797 and email us at info@shoestring.com           

Opening hours Monday to Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM (Local times in Netherlands).

Country information

More country information about Honduras

More country information about Belize

More country information about Mexico

More country information about Guatemala

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about Honduras

Frequently asked questions about Belize

Frequently asked questions about Mexico

Frequently asked questions about Guatemala

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