The Petex-Batun is the most inaccessible and rarely-visited region of Guatemala. Today it is lightly populated, and yet more than 1,500 years ago Maya rulers jockeyed for supremacy as they created immense cities here. During the 1990s mounting evidence indicated that a single kingdom, the Kaan or Snake, had a disproportionate influence in the ancient Maya world. Today, the glorious remains and texts written on carved stone monuments affirm the power of this royal family.
We travel by privately chartered helicopter to La Corona and El Mirador, two of the most remote Maya cities in this region. We will also journey through the jungle to Holmul, where recent discoveries provide tantalizing connections to the Snake Kingdom. Walking through the verdant rainforest teaming with wildlife combined with the lack of crowds guarantees a very special experience, even for the seasoned traveler.
Journey with Far Horizons on a 6-day exploration through out-of-the-way areas of Guatemala’s Petén in search of the connections to the Kaan Royalty, and learn of the captivating finds made at some of the most influential sites!
Fly to Guatemala City and overnight at La Inmaculada, a quiet boutique hotel. (D)
This morning will be spent in the National Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology. Although this is the repository of thousands of archaeological and ethnological artifacts, our time will be spent examining objects relating to the Snake Kingdom, including Panel 1 from La Corona. We continue to the La Corona archaeological lab for a ‘behind the scenes’ examination of many of the monuments found onsite, including the blocks of the hieroglyphic stairway, found in 2012, that document the arrival of a princess from Calakmul, the capital of the Snake polity, who traveled to La Corona to marry the ruler, and her subsequent climb to power as Queen. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for our flight to Santa Elena, located on Lake Petén- Itzá. The Hotel Camino Real Tikal, with a helicopter pad on the property, is our home for the next three nights. (B/L/D)
Holmul was discovered in 1909 but archaeologists avoided the site in the decades that followed, probably because no texts had been found. Looking for clues to the early development of Maya civilization Tulane University’s Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli formed the Holmul Archaeological Project and returned to the site in 2000. Many exciting finds followed, including carved stelae, tombs, painted murals, stunning monumental masks, and most recently a unique stuccoed building dedicated to the re-establishment of the local dynasty through the offices of Naranjo and the Kaan kings. This discovery confirms the hypothesis that Holmul was a small but strategically important kingdom on which both Tikal and Kaan kings exerted their hegemony at different times. To reach the site, we will travel by truck along dirt tracks. (B/L/D) .
After boarding our chartered helicopters this morning, we will fly over the canopy of the vast Maya Biosphere Reserve, the last tract of virgin rainforest in Central America. One of the most ecologically diverse regions on our planet, the Reserve is home to massive anteaters, wild cats, and scarlet macaws, as well as plants and trees found nowhere else on earth. La Corona first discovered in 1996, and later identified as the long-sought Site Q, the source of a series of looted limestone reliefs of extraordinary beauty and quality that are in museums and private collections all over the world. The location of Site Q has been one of the great mysteries for scholars of the Maya civilization, and the mystery was solved in 2005 when Dr. Marcello Canuto found a panel at La Corona that mentioned two Site Q rulers. The elaborate scene and lengthy hieroglyphic text commemorate the fascinating history of intermarriage between the rulers of La Corona (Saknikte’) and princesses of the Snake court. We will spend today onsite. (B/L/D)
The Mirador basin of northern Petén is home to the largest ancient freeway system in the Western hemisphere and some of the largest pyramids in the world. The most exciting is El Mirador, a superpower that rose to prominence in the Maya pre-classic period and was at the height of its power from 300 BC to 150 BC. The city’s main buildings, covering an area of more than a square mile, are dominated by La Danta complex, more massive than the Great Giza Pyramid in Egypt. There have been many exciting finds at this site, including stucco friezes depicting two examples of Late Preclassic deity impersonators that originally adorned a pyramid complex. In the late afternoon, we take a flight back to Guatemala City. (B/L/D)
Transfer to the airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)
Price is based on double occupancy and includes:
Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.
Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.
As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.
Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.
A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.
International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for 2 miles or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging as much as 5 miles of walking per day. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 60 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking several miles every day, ideally including stairs and hills. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.
This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. At times we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will not be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.