2024 Guatemala

Welcome to our 10th annual Cirrus trip. For the anniversary, we are expanding our wings and propose the most interesting tour so far, we will fly further South and explore Guatemala. We will launch from McAllen, TX, and fly in the group to Flores, Guatemala with a refueling stop in Mexico. Flores is a gateway to the famous Mayan ruins in Tikal, which we will be exploring the next day.

We will then continue with a short flight to Guatemala City and embark on a bus to drive to Lake Atitlan, the most picturesque lake in Central America surrounded by immense volcanos. We will finish our visit to Guatemala in style, by touring its ancient capital, La Antigua.

Flying back, we will stop in Acapulco, Mexico to rest for a day in one of the most architecturally stunning hotels in the country.

Date Day Town Comments
1/27/2024 Saturday McAllen Trip start, group meeting
1/28/2024 Sunday Flores Flight to Flores, with a fuel stop in Mexico
1/29/2024 Monday Flores Visting Mayan ruins at Tikal
1/30/2024 Tuesday Lake Atitlan Flight to Guatemala City, bus ride to the lake
1/31/2024 Wednesday Lake Atitlan Touring the lake
2/1/2024 Thursday Antigua Bus transfer to Antigua, visiting the city
2/2/2024 Friday Antigua Visiting Antigua
2/3/2024 Saturday Acapulco Flight to Acapulco
2/4/2024 Sunday Acapulco Day of rest in the hotel
2/5/2024 Monday End of trip, return flight home

Program

Tikal

While the site dates back to 1000 BC, at the peak of its glory, around 750 AD, Tikal was home to at least 60,000 Maya and held sway over several other city-states scattered through the rainforest from the Yucatán Peninsula to western Honduras. At that time, “downtown” Tikal was about six square miles, though research indicates that the city-state’s population may have sprawled over at least 47 square miles. Today much of the city is still buried under the forests and overgrowth, but what has been excavated shows an elaborate and huge ancient Maya city with beautiful, crumbling temples and ruins around every corner.

We will start the visit at the most spectacular attraction of the city, the Great Plaza, home to palaces, ceremonial buildings, stelae, carved altars, and the two giant pyramids known today as Temple I and Temple II.

The magnificent Temple I is 154 feet high, dedicated to Lord Jasaw Chan K'awil who died in the year 734 AD. Also known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar, the impressive structure had its pyramid added approximately 10 years following the death of the king.

Believed to have been erected in the year 700, the adjacent Temple II, known as the Temple of the Mask, was constructed on the orders of Kasaw Chan K'awil. Deciphering the hieroglyphics in the structure, it is believed that Lord K'awil had the temple built for his wife, Lady 12 Macaw, although no tomb or human remains have been discovered inside. Lady 12 Macaw's pyramid reaches 125 feet to the sky overhead and is precisely oriented toward the rising sun, giving visitors an unparalleled view of the rest of the city and the surrounding jungle.

With a private guide, we will tour Complex Q and R, Temples I, II, III and IV, Plaza Central, Central and North Acropolis and Mundo Perdido.

We will be staying close to the town of Flores, in a beatiful hotel on the shores of small lake Las Lagunas Boutique hotel.

Lago de Atitlán as it’s known in Spanish, is one of the most beatiful lakes in all of Central America and is surrounded by three massive volcanoes – Tolimán, San Pedro, and Atitlán. The lake has an area of 50 square miles, and the color of its waters varies from deep blue to green. Formed approximately 84,000 years ago as a result of a volcanic eruption, it is 4,500 feet above sea level, with a length of 12 miles, and a depth of up to 1000 feet, making it the deepest lake in Central America. The shores of the picturesque lake are dotted with Indian villages, with the main towns Panajachel, Atitlán, and San Lucas.

Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World wrote in his travel book Beyond the Mexique Bay published in 1934, “Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.”

We will be staying in Casa Palopó, an exception hotel being part of prestigious Relais & Chateaux.

On Wednesday, we will meet our private guide at Casa Palopó dock for a boat ride to experience the Maya culture and impressive views the lake offers. We will visit San Juan La Laguna, learn about traditional dye with natural colors at the textile workshop and visit the local art galleries. Then the boat will take us to Santiago Atitlán, where we will visit the house where Maximon – a Mayan Deity is located.

Founded in the early 16th century, Antigua served as the capital of the Captaincy General of Guatemala for 230 years. It survived natural disasters of floods, volcanic eruptions, and other serious tremors until 1773 when the Santa Marta earthquakes destroyed much of the town. At this point, authorities ordered the relocation of the capital to a safer location region, which became Guatemala City, the county’s modern capital. Some residents stayed behind in the original town, however, which became referred to as “La Antigua Guatemala”.

The city was revived in the mid-1800s, as a center of coffee and grain production. Now, the city’s cobbled streets — arranged in an easy-to-navigate grid, with views of the imposing Volcán de Agua to the south and the twin peaks of Volcán de Fuego and Acatenango to the west — are lined with farm-to-table restaurants, contemporary art galleries and design studios.

We are staying in one of the best hotel in Antigua El Convento Boutique Hotel.

The pattern of straight lines established by the grid of north-south and east-west streets and inspired by the Italian Renaissance is one of the best examples in Latin American town planning and all that remains of the 16th-century city. Most of the surviving civil, religious, and civic buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries and constitute magnificent examples of colonial architecture in the Americas. These buildings reflect a regional stylistic variation known as Barroco antigueño.

We will explore the city with a private guide. The walking tour will focuses on the city’s history, cultural trends, and restoration efforts. We will see the City Hall Palace, Fountain of the Sirens, Royal Palace, visit San Jose Catedral and its ruins, and learn about Maya archeology at the Maya Jades Museum, completing the tour at the best museums in town at Paseo de los Museos.

The following morning we will take a bus for a short drive to Finca Filadelfia for a group guided visit of one oftheoldst and most established cofee estates in Guatemala. We will be able to follow the path ofthe cofee bean fromthe nursery to acup and conclude with an educational tasting.

In the afternoon, we will have an opportunity to visit Pacaya Volcano National Park and hike up the volcano to watch incredible views. The hike is generally considering a challenging route and takes about 2.5 hours to complete on foot and 1.5 hours on a horse. For that reason, this is an optional activity, which is not included in the price of the trip. You may elect to relax instead in the hotel or participate in a workshop to make your own chocolate at the ChocoMuseo.

Acapuloco has a lot to offer, but this will be the end of our trip and we will take a well deserved rest in the architecturally stunning Encanto Acapulco hotel. We stayed there is 2013 with big plans to visit the town, but we ended remaining in the hotel for three days doing literally nothing. That will also be our plan for 2024, although the city has a lot to offer should you be interested in exploring it.

The Encanto hotel was designed by a famous Mexican architect Miguel Angel Aragonés.

Lodging

For this trip, we chose truly exceptional properties and you will feel at home in each of them.

Date Day Nights Hotel
1/28/2024 Sunday 2 Las Lagunas Boutique Hotel
1/30/2024 Tuesday 2 Casa Palopó - Relais & Chateaux
2/1/2024 Thursday 2 El Convento Boutique Hotel
2/3/2024 Saturday 2 Encanto Acapulco

Flights

If you've never flown South of the border, this will be a great introduction, it will be as easy as it gets. We will handle all formalities, including Mexico and Guatemala permits, we will arrange handlers to speed up processing at each airport and we will provide flight plans and briefings. Our group will meet in McAllen, TX, but please contact me if you prefer to fly to Mundo Maya MGMM airport in Guatamala from a different location without joining the group.

From Mundo Maya we will fly to the main airport in Guatmala City MGGT. To exit Guatemala, we have to stop in Tapachula, Mexico for customs and immigration, before continuing to Acapulco. Our trip ends in Acapulco, Mexico and you have an option to fly direct back to McAllen, or choose a different routing depending on your final destination. In either case, we will help you planning the return flight.

All airports we will be landing are towered, have commercial service and long runways, with both avgas and Jet-A fuel available.

Date From To Distance Comments
1/28/2024 KMFE, McAllen MMMT, Minatitlan 557 nm Fuel stop, customs
1/28/2024 MMMT, Minatitlan MGMM, Mundo Maya 280 nm Customs
1/30/2024 MGMM, Mundo Maya MGGT, Aurora 145 nm
2/1/2024 MGGT, Aurora MMTP, Tapachula 108 nm Fuel stop, customs
2/1/2024 MMTP, Tapachula MMAA, Acapulco 470 nm
2/1/2024 MMAA, Acapulco KMFE, McAllen 574 nm Optional

Procedures

We will provide access to the detailed guide for flying in Mexico, which will be useful for the transit flights. In the meantime, please be aware of the following requirements:

  1. You must have valid pilot certificate, temporary certificates are not allowed.
  2. Aircraft must have valid permanent registration and airworthiness certificate.
  3. You need at minimum 3rd class medical certificate, Guatemala does not recognize BasicMed.
  4. We recommend that you have 406 ELT and the documentation proving it.
  5. You should verify that Guatemala is a covered teritory on your aircraft insurance poliy.
  6. While instrument rating is not strictly required, it is highly recommended. While the weather is most often VFR, we might not be able to help if you cannot continue the trip due to adverse conditions.

Cost and Payments

The total cost per person, assuming two occupants sharing a hotel room is $3,450 and includes:

  • 8 nights lodging at the hotels listed above
  • Breakfast for two
  • Guided tours and activites
  • Entrance fees to parks
  • Transport to and from each airport
  • Handling fees at the airports
  • Mexico multi-entry permit
  • Trip setup, hotel and activities bookings, flight briefings

The following expenses are not included:

  • Lunch, dinner, drinks.
  • Tips.
  • Any flight related expenses such as fuel and airport fees.

Payments

The registration is for 2 people sharing a room. The total amount of $6,900 will be payable in three installments as follows:

  1. 20% of the total cost ($1,380) is due at registration.
  2. 40% of the total cost ($2,760) will be due on November 24th, 2023
  3. Remaining 40% of the total cost ($2,760) will be due on December 24th, 2023

Please contact us for any special requests, for example single rooms, extra or double beds. We ask that you pay balance invoice within three calendar days, or your registration may be cancelled and your past payments forfeited.

Cancellations

Registration fees and balance payments are non-refundable once paid. Substitutions are allowed and while we will attempt to find them in case of cancellation, we cannot guarantee the outcome. We will offer a waitlist to facilitate substitutions and refund the amount paid less any financial fees if an alternative participant joins the trip.

We reserve the right to cancel the trip if a minimum number of participants has not registered, in which case all fees will be refunded. We will not be able to provide refunds or partial refunds in case of cancellation or changes due to circumstances beyond our control, for example adverse weather, natural disasters, border-entry denial, mechanical difficulties or an accident impacting continuation of the trip. The program and the choice of hotels may be modified if required.

While our briefings are intended to facilitate travel, we remind all participants that the Pilot in Command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to the operation of the aircraft. Your registration for the trip consitutes agreement with the Release of Liability.

Questions

Please contact Thomas Daniel at guatemala2024@thomas-daniel.com or at 650-279-3429 with any questions.