Belize's Caribbean Cost
Altiplano y Cuchumatanes
Izabal and the Caribbean
Sea of Cortes
Quintana Roo and the Riviera Maya
Veracruz & Tabasco
Yucatan & Campeche
Our favourite destinations
Nested between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is a small country often unknown to the general public with a population of less than than 350,000. On one side, 250 kilometers of coast line with the Caribbean Sea on the horizon. On the other one, a luxuriant jungle protecting exclusive archaeological sites. Belize is the only English-speaking country of Central America, but it's roots are distinctly Mayan. We invite you to discover it's rich archeological sites and exceptional coral reefs that make Belize as one of the best diving destinations in the world. Watch out! A trip to Belize is not without risks. As Francis Ford Coppola famously warned, you risk falling in love with the country!
2. Belize's Caribbean Cost
Belize's Caribbean Cost
Belize is home to the second biggest coral reef in the world. Here, you'll find there more than 70 types of corals, 400 kinds of fish and 200 deserted tropical islands. The Blue Hole, near the center of the Lighthouse Reef atoll, is one of Belize's most alluring locations. This ancient calcareous cave, 300m in diameter and 125m deep, was made famous by French oceanographer Jacques-Yves Cousteau who considered it to be one of the 10 best diving sites in the world. During your stay in the Caribbean, you'll have the chance to go diving or snorkeling...or just simple enjoy some sun on the beach!
3. Altiplano y Cuchumatanes
Altiplano y Cuchumatanes
The north and east of Lake Atitlan form the high plains known as the Altiplano. The region is famous for its traditional Mayan villages that perpetuate an ancestral culture. One of the most important markets in Latin America is held in Chichicastenango. It is full of bright colors and unknown flavors. Each village has its own traditional costume, rich in meanings. In particular, indications of marital and social status can be found there.
Further north, clouds cover the Cuchumatanes mountains. It is cold in the highlands and hot and humid in the lowlands. Spanish, Quiche and Mam are the main languages spoken here. The pine forests and reliefs offer beautiful hikes to be made on foot or on horseback. This tourism off the beaten track allows you to meet the local people and discover their way of life.
From 1543 to 1773, Antigua was the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala which stretched then from Costa Rica to Mexican Chiapas. The colonial city suffered throughout its history of many natural disasters: earthquakes, floors, and volcanic eruptions. After the earthquake of 1773, the government decided to re-locate the capital about fifty kilometers in Guatemala City.
Ever since Antigua looks as though time has stood still. The city is a roofless museum, counting more than thirty monasteries, convents and cathedral. Streets laid with cobblestones adjoin the flower filled patios of colonial houses. Walk along the arcades of Park Exchange and notice the volcanoes Fuego, Agua and Acatenango. Coffee breaks, nightlife and handicraft markets are all to be found here. Antigua is a must-see on your trip!
Since then, time seems to have stood still in Antigua. The city is an open-air museum with more than thirty monasteries and convents and a cathedral. The cobbled streets adjoin the flowered patios of the colonial houses. One strolls along the arcades of the Central Park observing in the distance the volcanoes Fuego, Agua and Acatenango. There are small cafés, nightlife and craft markets. A must-see stop on your trip!
5. Izabal and the Caribbean
Izabal and the Caribbean
In the East, Lake Izabal is encircled by a tropical jungle. The region is home to a rich and varied fauna with more than 350 kinds of birds, monkeys, dolphins and manatees. The famous Río Dulce linkshe lake Izabal to the Caribbean coast through the Amatique Bay. The Colonial fort of San Felipe reminds visitors that the region was regularly subject to pirate attacks.
In Caribbean side the Garifuna culture and language dominate. The Garifuna people are a mixed African and indigenous people. The village of Livingston is the Guatemalan cradle of the Garifuna culture. Here, you'll be rocked by the sounds of waves and Afro-Caribbean rhythms.
On the Caribbean side, the Garifuna culture and language predominate. The population is a mixture of African slaves and indigenous people. The village of Livingston is the Guatemalan cradle of the Garifuna culture. The sound of the waves and Afro-Caribbean rhythms lull you to the rhythm of the waves. The contrast with the rest of the country is striking.
6. Lake Atitlan
Located in the Southwest of Guatemala, Atitlan is a volcanic lake 1,5000 meters above sea level. The Toliman, Atitlan and San Pedro volcanoes surround the lake, offering and exceptional panoramic view. The ethnic groups Cack'; chiquel, Quek'; chi, Mam and Tzutujil call fertile soil of this mountainous landscape home.
The lake is surrounded by picturesque villages. Hop aboard a fisherman's boat to discover local markets, traditional costumes and artisanal products. Stop to admire the traditional weaving methods, indigenous paintings, and étals of fruits and exotic vegetables. Considered by the English writer Aldous Huxley to be the most beautiful lake in the world, Atitlan and its villages surroundings mert several days of exploration.
The lake is surrounded by picturesque villages. Fishing boats take visitors to the lake to discover local markets, traditional costumes and handicrafts. Weaving methods, indigenous paintings, and exotic fruit and vegetable stalls are admired. Considered by the writer Aldous Huxley to be the most beautiful lake in the world, Atitlan and its surrounding villages are worth several days.
Boarding Mexico in the North and in the West and Belize in the East, the department of Petén is covered with a thick rain forest protected by huge national parks. Petén shelters an extremely varied fauna filled with jaguars, pumas, monkeys spiders, howler monkeys, tapirs, macaws, toucans and all types of parrots. Here, the jungle surprises us with it's noises, smells and colors.
The forest conceals other treasures as well: the invaluable Mayan relics. Th most famous of which is Tikal, an UNESCO worldwide heritage site since 1979. The Mayan city plunges us into a mystical ambience, surrounded by the sound of howler monkeys and toucans. In the true spirit of adventure, some sites such as El Mirador require a several day hike to reach.
New archeological techniques have revolutionized the work in the region. In 2018, an international team discovered a network of highways linking dozens of Mayan cities. Petén has not revealed all of it's mysteries just yet...
8. South East
Guatemala is boarding in the South by Honduras and El Salvador. The cordillera Sierra de las Minas is one of the green lungs of the country. It shelters 800 kinds of mammals and 20 kinds of exotic birds.
The volcano Ipala is one of the most popular regions for running. You can reach the top in 1 hour and 30 minutes! At the top - 1,650 metres in altitude - stop to appreciate the view of the lagoon formed in the crater. Here, you can cool down with a swim before attacking the descent.
9. Los Verapaces
Verapaces is characterized by lush forests, waterfalls, natural swimming pools and caverns. The region is divided into two... On one hand, Alta Verapaz, with it's foggy cool climate. On the other hand, you'll find Baja Verapaz with it's hot, tropical climate. Verapaces is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
Take a swim in the natural in the heart of the region at the natural swimming pools and waterfalls of Semuc Champey or discover the depths of the Lanquín or Candelaria caves. The region also shelters many kinds of birds, such as the rare Quetzal owhich which is the famous emblem of Guatemala. If you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of one of these splendid birds or spot one of the of 800 kinds of orchids that dot these forests.
10. Baja California
Regarded as one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world, the state of Baja California Sur offers tourists unheard of adventure, comfort and relaxation, and endless fun. From the pristine blue waters of the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean, this land boasts spectacular cities, charming towns, vast deserts and magnificent mountains. All of these important elements work together to create a beautiful concert of natural beauty to impress even the most seasoned of travelers.
11. Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon is a group of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara, now established as the Copper Canyon National Park. The overall canyon system is even larger and portions are even deeper than the Grand Canyon in neighboring Arizona! The canyons were formed by six rivers, which drain the western side of the Sierra Tarahumara (a part of the Sierra Madre Occidental). All six rivers merge into the Rio Fuerte and empty into the Sea of Cortez. The walls of the canyon are a copper/green color which is where the name originates.
There are many ways to explore Copper Canyon such as hiking, biking, driving or horseback riding. The most popular however is by train! The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico, or CHEPE, runs along the main canyon called Canyon Urique, between Chihuahua and Los Mochis, on the Gulf of California. The trip includes 87 tunnels and 35 bridges with stopovers in Creel and Divisadero so you can take in the breathtaking views. The canyons are home to approximately 290 species of birds, including 10 in danger of extinction. Almost one third of Mexico’s land mammals can be found in the canyon region. More than 3,500 species of plants grow here: among these are more than 400 wild medicinal plants.
Chiapas is famous for its wide variety of festivities, traditions, crafts and cuisine. You’ll also find a lot of natural beauty in Chiapas with sites like the Canon del Sumidero National Park, the Cascadas de Agua Azul Biosphere Reserve and the Montebello Lagoons, where you’ll see turquoise-blue waters surrounded by a forest with indigenous plant and animal species.
What's more, here, you can visit fascinating Mayan archaeological site, including those at Tonina, Bonampak, Yaxchilan and mysterious Palenque, where archaeologists have made recent discoveries! Nearby, in the magical city of San Cristobal de las Casas, you’ll see beautiful religious buildings like the Cathedral and the Templo de Santo Domingo. Visit the plazas and markets, where you’ll find crafts, clothing and wooden sculptures made by Tzotzil, Tzeltal and Lacandon indigenous artisans. In the surrounding areas of Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital, marvel at important historic buildings like the Cathedral of San Marcos and the Antiguo Palacio de Gobierno! Visit the towns of Chiapas de Corzo, San Juan Chamula and Comitan de Dominguez. There you’ll see splendid architecture, various festivities and Spanish and Mayan influenced traditions.
13. Pacific Coast
The Pacific Coast contains some of Mexico’s primary beach resorts as well as other, lesser-known, beautiful spots and small coastal villages, backed by sweeping jungles that reach down to the clear blue waters of the Pacific. Known as the Mexican Riviera, the central coast has international beach resorts like Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, excellent seafood and a large selection of adventure tourism attractions and activities. It one of the leading resort destinations in the country! Miles of palm trees, golden beaches and picturesque bays, excellent surf, active nightlife, elegant dining and luxury accommodation are the main focus of this part of Mexico.
From Mazatlán in the north, the ‘Pearl of the Pacific, to the exhilarating action of the famous La Quebrada divers of Acapulco, bird watching near the small fishing village of San Blas and the jade green waters of Puerto Escondido, the Pacific coastal region holds something for everyone, whether looking for action or relaxation.
14. The North
Travelers thirsty for adventure will be satisfied with a visit to Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas and Durango on the wild borders of northeastern Mexico! Visit this region of canyons, where climbers can abseil over waterfalls, caving enthusiasts can go spelunking in extraordinary caves and bungee jumpers can swing between two steep cliffs.
15. Sea of Cortes
Sea of Cortes
Just south of California lies an unrushed and uncrowded inland sea known as the Gulf of California, the Vermilion Sea or the Sea of Cortez/Cortes. A bird watcher's paradise: this rich archipelago serves as an important bird refuge and migration corridor! Author John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts found the Sea of Cortes to be “ferocious with life.” Jacques Cousteau, the famous French explorer and pioneer of marine conservation, described it as the “world’s aquarium” and the “Galápagos of North America.”
We tend to agree. UNESCO even declared it a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, noting it as one of the most biologically diverse marine environments on Earth! These wildlife-rich waters and islands are home to both plants and animals found nowhere else.
Each step in Mexico’s Sea of Cortés uncovers a world of breathtaking beauty and wildlife - giant and small lizards, sea turtles, boobies, pelicans, frigate birds, blue whales, gray whales, orca, humpback, pilot and fin whales, dolphins, whale sharks, mantas, and sea lions. Kayak in coastal mangroves and in crystalline blue coves. Hike along dunes, cactus-clad ridges, and among desert scrub. Swim with playful sea lions, watch whales, and snorkel among colorful coral. And in a picturesque setting of red rock cliffs, discover a centuries-old town or relax on a white-sand beach. Explore this extraordinary place and discover firsthand how small the human presence here truly is.
16. Mexico City
Mexico City, the oldest metropolis on the American continent, is perched atop a highland valley at about 2,240 meters (7,392 feet) above sea level. Towering high above the city’s southeast side are two volcanoes: Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl. The nation’s capital, now one of the world's largest and most densely populated cities, has some of the best weather in the world with an average temperature of 22º C (72º F). Mexico City is a cosmopolitan metropolis, where new and old traditions coexist side by side. Here, you'll find remarkable Aztec ruins, colonial monuments and an impressive series of large public buildings constructed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Go shopping at bazaars and crafts markets in the Coyoacan and San Angel neighborhoods or the exclusive boutiques and shopping centers in the posh communities of Santa Fe and Polanco, where you’ll be surrounded by the five star hotels and restaurants.
Located in Mexico’s southern region along the Pacific coast, Oaxaca is covered with valleys and mountain chains. In this state, known for its important history and culture, you’ll have the opportunity to visit various town and cities inhabited by about 16 distinct ethnic groups. In many of these places, the indigenous people have preserved acient traditions and customs.
The city of Oaxaca, the state capital, is a must-see! A colonial city with some of the nation’s most magnificent architecture, you'll see Baroque buildings and green quarry stone constructions. Visit important museums like the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, which is housed in the Ex-Convent of Santo Domingo. Enjoy the city’s traditional fiestas, such as Noche de Rabanos and Guelaguetza. Oaxaca also has diverse archaeological sites, including the Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban, declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO, and Mitla, which is known for it's intricate fretwork and unique mosaics.
The state of Puebla is located in Mexico’s central region in a zone with great biodiversity, consisting of sierras, forests, valleys and one of the nation’s most important river basins. In addition to being home to the traditional dances of Quetzales and Voladores, you'll find various place of interest such as archaeological site, the La Malinche National Park, and the Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes, which are covered with coniferous forests. These areas are ideal for trekking, hiking and mountain climbing. The area is also famous for the Talavera crafts and the exquisite cuisine, including delicious dishes like mole, chiles en nogada (stuffed poblano chili peppers bathed in walnut sauce) and sweetmeats made from marzipan, goat’s milk, caramel and yams.
19. Quintana Roo and the Riviera Maya
Quintana Roo and the Riviera Maya
Located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo offers visitors the beautiful waters of the Caribbean Sea, top-quality resorts, white-sand beaches, marvelous ecological reserves and ancient Mayan ruins. Here, visit all kinds of places ranging from Cancun, an important destination for national and international tourists with a 30 km (19 mile) stretch of beaches and an impressive hotel zone, to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
20. Veracruz & Tabasco
Veracruz & Tabasco
Located in Mexico’s Eastern region along the Gulf coast, Veracruz has a tropical climate and impressive natural scenery. You'll find sites such as the Citlatapetl Volcano and Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in the nation. Visit picturesque cities and towns that have preserved their local architecture. Veracruz’s geographic location and wonderful climate make it the ideal destination forall kinds of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, rafting, horseback riding and thrilling rappelling outings accompanied by experienced guides. Pico de Orizaba National Park covers 19,750 hectares (48,782 acres) and has the highest mountain in Mexico. At the town of Catemaco you can a take boat ride across the lagoon to the Isla de los Monos, famous for its howler monkey population. The reef system, Sistema Arrecifal Veracruz, is one of Mexico’s most important marine parks due to its abundant coral formations. Along the coast you can visit the Costa Esmeralda, a 50 km (31 mi) beach strip north of the Port of Veracruz. Finally, take a trip back in time as you explore the archeological sites of El Tajin, Cempoala and Quiahuiztlan.
21. Colonial Cites
Mexico is dotted with several colonial cities and almost all have won praise for their perfect layout, the harmony of their details or their historical significance! Opulent colonial constructions: houses, haciendas, monasteries, hospitals, the headquarters of mines and farming estates, government buildings and, of course, churches embellish Mexico City as well as the cities of Oaxaca, Puebla, Guanajuato, Morelia, Zacatecas, Querétaro, Campeche, Veracruz and many others!
These cities are admired and photographed every day by locals and travelers alike. These elegant Mexican buildings are witness to the passage of time, revealing their secrets only to those who choose to wander these roads paved with history.
22. Yucatan & Campeche
Yucatan & Campeche
Entering Yucatan is like opening a chest full of endless treasures. This Mexican state is home to a stunning array of cultural wealth and varied natural landscapes: ancient Mayan ruins and contemporary indigenous villages; sprawling haciendas and gorgeous colonial cities; modern museums and a worldly population. Add to that the state’s natural riches, including the world’s largest--and pinkest--colony of flamingos and geologic idiosyncrasies such as cenotes (natural sinkholes) and a vast network of caves. The proud inhabitants of this south-eastern Mexican zone are faithful to the customs they inherited from a fascinating cultural mix of indigenous and Spanish elements that have occurred over the past centuries. Still, they aware of the winds of change and modernity that blow through this peninsular enclave nowadays.