Archaeology Cancuen Tour 1

4 days / 3 nights.
Grade: Easy day hikes, varied elevation (2300-250 Mts.. ASL.), temperature between 18º and 35º C. Hotel and Eco-lodge.

Day 1. antigua (or Guatemala City) - MARIO DARY CLOUD FOREST RESERVE - COBÁN
At 6:00 am, we'll pick participants at their hotel. During the drive of two and a half hours, you will observe different ecosystems on which you guide will provide interesting information. The adventure begins when we visit the Mario Dary Reserve, a protected biotope, home of the resplendent quetzal, Guatemala's national bird. The ecosystem here is lush. A subtropical cool cloud forest with an abundance of coniferous and broad leaf trees houses great variety of orchids, mosses, bromeliads and ferns. Among the wide variety of plants, the biotope is home for some species of wildlife such as the howler monkey, coatimundi, brocket deer, tree frogs, reptiles and many species of birds including emerald toucanet, hummingbirds, blue-crowned motmot and woodpeckers. By hiking through the forest across well established trails, you will get the chance to experience the enormous bio-diversity of this natural sanctuary. After lunch, the group will visit Viveros Verapaz, the largest orchid nursery and rescue station in Central America (275 species and more than 50,000 plants) A tour led by a station's staff member will introduce participants to the fascinating world of orchids. Arrival to Cobán at the end of the afternoon. Overnight at the Hotel La Posada.

Discovered in 1974 by a French expedition, Candelaria is considered the largest cavern system with an underground river in Latin America. This majestic cavern run more than 30 km. Horizontally across northern Alta Verapaz. Candelaria houses a subtropical humid rain forest filled with fantastic flora and fauna. Chances to observe howler and spider monkeys, peccary, deer and coatimundi among others. Upon arrival to the campsite and right before lunch, participants can go to swim in the river that comes out from one of the grottos. After lunch and a deserved rest, we will explore the cavern of El Mico (the monkey), which is probably one of the most fascinating cave of all. We'll be walking along the Candelaria River that flows inside. The caverns are naturally lighted by a series of natural openings called "windows", that lend a fairy like atmosphere to the underground galleries and light up the beautifully colored rock formations . The tour lasts about 3 hours after which one may swim if desired. Dinner and overnight at Candelaria Eco-lodge.

Early in the morning we depart aboard our 4X4's until we get to the margins of the Pasión river. From here, the group and guides will navigate in native "Cayuco" (motorized wooden boats) to the ancient Maya City of Cancuén. A fantastic journey through time, history and nature awaits us. Amazing birdlike will be observed along the trip as well as occasional turtles sunbathing on the river shores. With a little luck you may even see a crocodile! In Cancuén the archaeologist from Vanderbilt and Del Valle universities will be touring us along their digs, taking us to explore the ancient buildings and showing us their new discoveries. Definitely a once in a lifetime chance! Lunch will be served at the archaeologists campsite and a brief lectures about the sites history will be given. Afterwards we'll return to Candelaria for dinner and overnight.

In the lush environment of Candelaria, we wake up to the song of numerous birds. After breakfast, we will explore the Campo Base (Base Camp) cavern. It was from here that the initial explorations of Candelaria took place in t he middle 70's. A short hike into the jungle leads to the enormous mouth of the cavern. Remains of ancient Maya buildings can be observed as well as some objects left there by the Maya 1,500 years ago. For the ancient Maya, caverns were sacred places in where they performed ceremonies and sacrifices related with the deities of the underworld. After exploration, we will depart back to Cobán getting there at midday, ready for lunch. Afterwards, we will depart back to Guatemala City after an unforgettable adventure.

$600.00 per person (minimum group 8 - max 14 persons)
Part of your fee in this expedition will go directly to a fund that will help an ongoing development program for education and conservation in the area of Cancuen.

All ground transportation aboard tourism buses with a/c and experienced drivers, fully equipped 4X4 Vehicles for the unpaved portion of the tour and boats to navigate along the Pasion river. US Specially trained whitewater rafting guides and equipment for rafting. Well trained, knowledgeable, professional bilingual tour guides and local staff and boat men from the Keq'chi Indian communities of Candelaria, La Isla and El Zapote. Entrance fees to protected areas, archaeological parks and private reserves, All nights lodging as described in the itinerary, all meals from Lunch on day 1 to lunch on the last day, first aid kit, trip booklet and reference material along the trip. Taxes.

Does not include:
Alcohol and soda beverages
Personal expenses
Tips to guides, drivers, restaurant and hotel personnel.

What to bring and wear:
Cobán is normally chilly, especially by night, so bring along a good sweater or warm jacket for the night we spend in town. The Cahabon river is a class III-IV rafting where you will get wet. Cap,shorts and t-shirt and either tennis shoes (to get wet) or buckled sandals for the river. The Machaquila cave is a wet cave so please bring shoes which have traction and can get wet. A good flashlight is a must with extra batteries. The Candelaria and Cancuén regions are hot and humid year round, so plan you baggage accordingly. We recommend to bring a good pair of hiking boots, light cotton shirts (one long sleeve), a pair of shorts, Khakis, sandals, swimsuit, personal items, and sunscreen. A rain jacket, flashlight, binoculars, water bottle, sunglasses and a hat are a good idea and don't forget your camera. And please, bring a big smile for every day!

About the Hotel and Campsite:

Hotel La Posada:
Beautiful colonial house located in the center of Cobán, decorated with antiques and handicrafts, cozy atmosphere, beautiful gardens, restaurant and bar service. 20 rooms, hot/cold water, parking lot , good service.

Candelaria Eco-Lodge:
A fantastic lodge built in the middle of the jungle. Comfortable shared cabins, great food and bar service, surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and a river. Hundreds of birds and wildlife. The lodge and the protected area of Candelaria are totally managed by the Indian community of Mucbilhá. All the funds collected from the visits of the explorers remain within the community allowing them to independently sustain themselves and preserve their surroundings. Excellent service.

Hotel Villa de Los Castellanos:
Located on the banks of the Machaquila River it's design incorporates the native plant species and invites the birds and wildlife to take refuge among it't gardens. Medicinal plants have been identified along the walkways and one can take a tub ride in the crystal waters of the river. Jungle atmosphere, lush gardens, restaurant, and bar service, hot/cold Water, parking lot, good service.

Guaranteed Group Departures
March 08,09,10,11 2001
March 15,16,17,18 2001
March 22,23,24,25 2001
April 19,20,21,22 2001
April 26,27,28,29 2001
May 03,04,05,06 2001

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