DAY 2: Copan, Honduras Copan was the southernmost major center of lowland Maya civilization and is famed for its artistic sculpture. The great Hieroglyphic Stairway was dedicated in 755 and it bears a continuous text of more than 1250 glyph blocks listing dates and names of the city’s Classic Period rulers. Because of its beautiful artwork, unsurpassed in any other Maya city, Copan occupies a special place in the study of the ancient Maya. Visit Copan’s Museum of Maya Sculpture which contains some of the finest examples of Maya sculpture ever found. Dominating the center of the museum is a full-scale brightly colored replica of the Rosalila Temple which was completed in 571. The ball courts are the playing grounds of an extremely serious sport to the Mayans. These games are believed to have had religious significance: the captain of one team was sacrificed to the gods. Overnight at the Marina Copan Hotel.
DAY 3: Quirigua, Guatemala Early morning departure to enter Guatemala and continue to the Caribbean area. Visit Quirigua, another World Heritage Archaeological Site. This strategically located river city of the Classic Period controlled the important Motagua Valley trade route linking the Caribbean coast with interior settlements. Remarkably preserved portraits and texts on sandstone stelae chronicle a ruling dynasty in competition with nearby Copan. In 738 the ruler Cauac Sky captured and beheaded Copan’s lord, 18 Rabbit. Quirigua is home to the largest stelae in the Maya World at 26 feet and 6 inches in height and weighing about 65 tons. Overnight Hotel Villa Caribe on the mouth of the Rio Dulce in Livingston.
DAY 4: Lubaantun & Nim Li Punit, BelizeThese two very interesting sites in southern Belize have beautiful carved stelae and ceremonial centers. They are Late Maya Classic Sites and there are archaeological evidences that they had contacts with Quirigua. Afternoon scenic three-hour ride to San Ignacio for overnight at DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge, on the shore of the Macal River.
DAY 5: Caracol, Belize One of the largest political, religious and economic centres of the Maya Classic Time. Magnificent and well restored pyramids, the tallest one is named Caana. Caracol is connected through a network of sakbes with several small sites. In the 7th Century, in an alliance with Calakmul, Caracol defeated mighty Tikal. Overnight at DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge.
DAY 6: Xunantunich, Belize & Yaxha & Uaxactun, GuatemalaNear the Guatemalan border, Xunantunich is a small site with a tall pyramid from which you can enjoy a spectacular view of the San Ignacio valley. The next site we will visit is Yaxha, the only Maya Classic Site whose name is the same as its emblem glyph. known for having a large concentration of massive buildings and defined avenues and causeways. Yaxha was an ally of Tikal. Its location, on the shore of a lake within the Maya Biosphere Reserve, makes it unique. The day will end with a visit to Uaxactun, a Preclassic Maya site. Uaxactun was important before Tikal, who later conquered it. At Uaxactun you can see the oldest and best preserved Astronomical Observation Complex, built to keep track of equinoxes and solstices. Overnight within Tikal National Park at the Tikal Inn, enjoying the sights and sounds of the tropical forest wildlife.
DAY 7: Tikal, GuatemalaIntensive construction took place at Tikal from the late Preclassic Period until the waning of Classic Maya civilization around AD 900. At its peak the city covered about 48 square miles and had a population estimated at 55,000. Tikal’s Stela 29 bears the earliest Long Count date known in the Maya lowlands. In AD 292, Temple IV, one of the many pyramids erected to memorialize the dead rulers of Tikal’s royal dynasty, and one of the tallest of Maya structures at 212 feet, was erected. Overnight at the Tikal Inn.
DAY 8: Yaxchilan, Chiapas, Mexico Depart early from Tikal to the Usumacinta River that defines the border between Guatemala and Mexico. After a brief boat ride on the river, visit Yaxchilan in Mexico. Yaxchilan, set above the jungle banks of the river, was first inhabited around AD 200 and the central plaza holds statues of jaguars and crocodiles. Adventurous travelers will want to climb Yaxchilan’s highest temple as the view of the Rio Usumacinta and surrounding jungle is magnificent. Afternoon boat ride to Corozal Town for overnight at Escudo Jaguar, a lodge on the banks of the Usumacinta owned and run by a cooperative of Maya Lacandon Indians.
DAY 9: Bonampak, Chiapas, Mexico Morning scenic ride into the Lacandon Forest Reserve, home to the Lacandon people and Bonampak Archaeological Park. Bonampak’s ruins are situated around a rectangular plaza. The southern buildings are well preserved. The “Templo de los Frescos” contains three rooms covered with paintings depicting ancient Maya ceremonies and customs. Continue to Palenque for overnight at the Villas Kin-Ha Hotel.
DAY 10: Palenque, Chiapas, MexicoThis World Heritage Site is prized for its well-preserved buildings, carved stucco ornamentation, delicate bas-reliefs and lengthy hieroglyphic texts. Palenque reached its zenith during the reign of Pacal the Great (AD 615-683). His tomb in the Temple of the Inscriptions was opened in 1952 and stands as one of the greatest discoveries of Mayan archaeology. Overnight at the Villas Kin-ha Hotel in Palenque.
DAY 11: La Venta & Comalcalco, Tabasco, Mexico Enjoy a two-hour ride to Villahermosa, capital city of the Mexican State of Tabasco. Visit La Venta Park, where colossal Olmec Heads were found in the surrounding area, are exhibited. The Olmec pre-date the Classic Maya time and they sat the foundation of the later development of all the Mesoamerican civilizations. In the afternoon visit Comalcalco, one of the westernmost Classic Maya sites. It was always related to Palenque and it has a unique feature: it was built using clay bricks. Today you will have a Farewell Dinner. Overnight at the Calinda Viva Hotel in Villahermosa.
DAY 12: Departure from Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico Transfer to Villahermosa International Airport.
Price per person sharing double rooms: $2,495. Single supplement: $540.MAYA CLASSIC TOUR schedule: (2006) NOV 18 and DEC 02. (2007) JAN 06 & 20, FEB 03 & 17, MAR 03 & 17, APR 07 & 21. Maya Classic Tour will be scheduled on request to begin on the 1st or 3rd Saturday of any month in 2007.
An optional Guatemala City arrival is offered on Friday. Guests will be met and escorted to their hotel for the night. The following day, travel to Copan will be via express bus or van to join the group for dinner in Copan Ruinas. This option includes aiport transfer, hotel, breakfast, and transportation to Copan at $100 per person, double occupancy, or $130 single.
International airfare is not included in the tour price. Your Mayatour agent will assist you in finding the best available airfare and schedule, or you can purchase your airline tickets elsewhere. Arrival in San Pedro Sula arrivals should be before 3 p.m. on Saturday.