Guatemala's short Caribbean shoreline doesn't generate the buzz of those of neighboring Belize and Mexico. The coast weighs in at a scant 74 mi (123 km), and this mostly highland country wears its indigenous culture on its sleeve and has historically looked inland rather than to the sea. You'll be drawn inland, too, with a variety of shore excursions. This is the land of the Maya, after all. But there's plenty to keep you occupied here in the lowlands. Tourist brochures tout the Caribbean coast as "The Other Guatemala". View more
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Explore Guatemala's scenic beauty and storied past during this half-day tour through the Motagua Valley, and the 17th-century Castle of San Felipe. This valley is one of the driest areas of Central America and is surrounded by mountains that reach up to 3,000m (9,843 feet) on the north side and 2,000m (6,562 feet) on the south. The valley receives less than 500mm (20 inches) of precipitation annually and is substantially different from the neighboring regions.
Depart the pier for the scenic drive through the Motagua Valley. Along the way, see an abundance of lush tropical vegetation in the countryside. Upon arrival at the bridge over the Rio Dulce, a stop will be made for spectacular views and photo opportunities of Lake Izabal and Rio Dulce National Park (weather and time permitting), a protected area and one of the most important ecological reserves in the country. From this vantage-point, you can see Guatemalan weekend homes, marinas and small hotels dotting both sides of the river and lake.
Castillo de San Felipe
Located on Lake Izabal is the Castillo de San Felipe, the Spanish fort built to protect the Rio Dulce from invading pirates. Take a brief boat ride to the fort for an inside visit. Located just minutes from the bridge, the Castle of San Felipe was built during the 17th century in honor of the Spanish King Felipe II. The fort, with its powerful battery of cannons strategically positioned at the entrance to Lake Izabal, offered protection to Spanish ships crossing its waters, and transporting products and supplies to and from Spain and Havana. Its walls offered protection from pirates that used to navigate the river and attack the boats they encountered along the way.
In 1686, a pirate assault burned most of the fort and the attacks continued until a series of treaties were signed between Spain and England. As a result, the Castillo lost its importance as a defensive fort, and was converted into a prison. It was later abandoned, and fell into a state of disrepair until its renovation by Architect Francisco Ferrus in 1955. Although rebuilt based upon its original plans, the Castle of San Felipe still retains two cannons dating back to the 1790s, and a pair of 400-year-old towers.
Following your tour, proceed to the Catamaran Hotel for refreshments before returning to the ship, approximately 1-hour away.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking and is suitable for guests with limited mobility; however it is not suitable for guests who utilise a wheelchair. We suggest guests wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, sun protection and insect repellent. Guests must be agile enough to embark and disembark the boats with the guide's assistance. This may be more challenging during periods of low tide.
Explore the pristine natural beauty of the Cerro San Gil rainforest and the lifestyle of its local residents during this memorable half-day journey to Las Escobas Springs. The Nature Conservancy and its partner, Fundación para el Desarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO), are working to conserve the Gulf of Honduras including the Cerro San Gil Protected Area, which is one of the last remaining tracts of very humid tropical forests within the Central American isthmus. Cerro San Gil also includes important fresh water springs, bird sanctuaries and mangroves.
Las Escobas Springs Reserve
Depart the pier in an air-conditioned mini-bus for the brief drive to the Las Escobas Springs Reserve. Las Escobas is one of the two main rivers flowing from the Cerro San Gil, a 117,000-acre (47,348-hectare) protected rainforest surrounded by mountains. The subject of intense study by renowned biologists, scientists, naturalists and ecologists, this thriving ecosystem is home to more than 400 bird species, as well as an abundance of reptiles, amphibious mammals and insects endemic to the region.
Upon arrival at the Las Escobas Springs Reserve, receive a welcome by one of the reserve hostesses, and participate in a special educational program funded by FUNDAECO, a nature-preservation NGO that teaches students basic English language skills and incoming tourism services. During the program's 1.5-hour hike, several stops will be made for more detailed explanations and optional bathing in one of the puddles.
Following your hike, proceed to the community of Las Escobas, located just five minutes from the Las Escobas Springs Natural Reserve. Enjoy, an opportunity to interact with the local people, experience their daily lives and participate in a tortilla-making demonstration.
Upon the conclusion of your village visit, re-join your coach for the return trip to Santo Tomas and your awaiting ship.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking for approximately 1 mile (1.6 kilometres) over uneven ground, and is not recommended for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. We suggest guess wear long pants, long-sleeved shirt, comfortable walking shoes, sun protection and insect repellent. Guests wishing to swim should wear a swimsuit under a cover-up, and bring a towel from the ship.
Discover the native cultures during this full-day exploration of isolated villages and their sustainable development. The wide Rio Dulce winds its way to the Caribbean Sea, making its way through lush jungle and soaring canyons; past old Spanish forts and giant marinas, old stilt houses and new extravagant mansions, Mayan locals fishing from their dugout canoes and international voyagers in their yachts.
Scenic River Cruise
Depart Santo Tomas de Castilla by small covered 'panga' type boats enjoying scenic cruise where visitors will go through the picturesque waterways of the magnificent Rio Dulce, recognized as an area of prestigious natural beauty offering sights of river gorge rock covered with lush vegetation that provides sanctuary for a variety of birds.
Your English-speaking guide will point out special places and describe the lifestyle of people living along the banks of this river. The trip continues to Ak'Tenamit, a community development organization located on the Rio Dulce River, dedicated to empowering indigenous communities through grass root programs in health, education and family income generation. At the project, find a comfortable and peaceful place not only to be in touch with nature but also to admire how local handicrafts are made.
After the guided visit, enjoy a light lunch and at Amatique Bay Resort.
Afterwards, board your boat for the return journey to Santo Tomas de Castilla.
Please note: This tour requires a moderate amount of walking over unpaved and uneven surfaces, including a steep, uphill walk to the community in high humidity and temperatures. It is not recommended for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Guests must be able to embark and disembark the boats, which may require a high step depending on the level of the river. Additionally the Panga boat ride may experience rough seas, resulting in a bumpy ride for approximately 45 minutes each way. We suggest guests wear lightweight comfortable clothing and walking shoes, sun protection and insect repellent.
Relax, unwind and take in the spectacular beauty of one of Central America's finest eco-resorts during this memorable visit to Guatemala's Amatique Bay Resort. The natural contrasts between the Caribbean coast and the highlands of Guatemala are enchanting. The Resort has its own marina, botanical garden and ecological site on the premises.
Amatique Bay Resort
Depart the pier via an open-air panga boat to the Amatique Bay Eco- resort. The Amatique Bay Resort features exotic landscaping, and a wide array of lush flora and fauna.
Upon arrival, you may use your time at the resort to relax and unwind at your leisure. You can sunbathe or swim at the pool with wet bar and water slides, explore the private beach.
After a barbecue buffet lunch will be served during your visit, you will return to the pier via panga boat on your own, at your leisure.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking. The open-air Panga boat transfer may also experience rough waters or a bumpy ride and thus is not suitable for guests with limited mobility or those that utilise a wheelchair. Guests must be able to embark and disembark the transfer boat. Wear a swimsuit under a cover-up, sun protection and bring a towel from the ship. Drinks are not included, but may be purchased at the resort. Boats will leave the Resort back to Santo Tomas port and will depart when the craft has been filled.
Explore the history of the ancient Mayan civilization during this scenic and informative journey to Northern Guatemala's renowned Mayan ruins of Tikal. Marvel at the exquisite architecture, temples, Great Plaza, North and Central Acropolis and the Mahler Palace. Enjoy a lunch at the Maya International Hotel before returning to Santo Tomas.
Journey to Tikal
Depart the pier for the brief transfer to the airport and a chartered 1-hour flight to the vast northern region of El Peten. Upon arrival, board a coach for the scenic 1-hour drive along rainforest-lined roadways. Along the way, your guide informs you about the region in preparation for your visit to Tikal, the greatest Mayan city known and studied to date, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tikal National Park
Upon reaching the entrance of the 231-square-mile (598-square-kilometre) Tikal National Park, leave your coach and begin your guided hike along dirt roads and pathways. As you enter the forest surrounding the ruins, your guide will explain the cosmic vision of life at the apex of Mayan rule.
After walking approximately 1 mile (1.6 kilometres), discover and climb to the top of Temple IV; the tallest of all pre-Columbian structures in the Western Hemisphere where expansive views of the park will come into view. Continue past Temple V before reaching the Great Plaza, which is comprised of Temples I and II, the North Acropolis, Central Acropolis and the Maya royal residential complex, known as the Mahler Palace. Their magnificent architecture is still intact after hundreds of years. Some free time will be made available for you to explore the ruins independently.
Lunch at Casona de la Isla
After the tour, you will be transferred to Casona de la isla, located at the Island of Flores for lunch.
After lunch, join your transfer to the Mundo Maya airport for your return flight.
Please note: This tour requires pre-booking seven days prior to sailing through Silversea.com. Requests received after this deadline may be accommodated on a space available basis. Cancellations received after the booking deadline will result in a penalty of 100% which will be charge to your shipboard account. This tour requires extensive walking and is not recommended for guests with limited mobility or those who utilise a wheelchair. Climbing on Temple IV is not recommended for guests who may suffer vertigo or a fear of heights and is at your own risk. After periods of rain, climbing on the Temple is discouraged as the steps can become very slippery. The tour will spend approximately 3 hours at Tikal National Park and cover approximately 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) on foot. It is recommended to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, comfortable walking shoes, sun protection and insect repellent. Rain jackets, ponchos and umbrellas are also advised to provide coverage during cloudbursts. A minimum of 11 guests is required to operate this program. The order of sites visited may vary based on the number of visitors at the ruins.
Explore the history of the Maya people during this scenic and informative, half-day excursion to Quiriguá National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Banana Plantation, Motagua River and Quiriguá National Park
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately 75-minute drive to Quiriguá National Park located on the plains of the Motagua River. The longest river in the country, the Motagua was used by the Maya as one of their most important waterways. Before arriving at the park, a brief photo stop is made at a banana plantation to observe and learn about banana production in Guatemala.
Quiriguá National Park, and Archaeological Sites and Artefacts
The magnificent Mayan city of Quiriguá, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded in a very fertile valley at the edge of the Motagua River between 250-550. Today, Quiriguá is an impressive archaeological site dating from the early-Classic period. Upon arrival at Quiriguá National Park, take a guided walking tour. Learn about the history and evolution of Quiriguá, and view archaeological sites and artefacts, including the tallest stela in the Maya world, found here during archaeological excavations. At the conclusion of your visit, re-board your coach and proceed for a refreshment stop, then commence the approximately 1.5-hour drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of walking for approximately 1.5 miles (about 2.4 kilometres), at times over uneven and cobblestone surfaces, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach and at Quiriguá National Park. This tour is not suitable for pregnant guests, guests with neck and/or back problems, guests with heart and/or respiratory conditions, guests with limited mobility, and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Expect high temperature/humidity levels at the park. Guests are advised to wear lightweight, comfortable, long-sleeve shirts and pants with flat, non-slip, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring sun protection, bottled water and insect repellent from the ship. The driving time between the pier and Quiriguá National Park is approximately 1.5 hours in each direction.