Here is the itinerary that I used for my trip, in which I saw twelve Mayan sites in two weeks ( we could have seen a few more if we'd pushed a little harder). While this schedule may be too aggressive (i.e.- rapid) for some of you, it shows what can be done if you want to see a good overview of the Mayan ruins that are easily accessible. If you're more interested in fully investigating some of the key sites, it would be quite easy to spend a week at each of the sites of Palenque, Tikal, and Copán.
For a cost breakdown of the trip I took, click HERE.
04 APRIL (Friday)
Arrive at border crossing at Otay Lakes (after 6am when it opens). Proceed to Tijuana airport. Fly out of Tijuana at 8:30am. Arrive Mexico City at 1:30pm. Change planes, fly out at 2:25pm. Arrive at Guatemala City at 4:10pm. AVIS rent-a-car counter is at airport, and is open from 8am-9pm. Check about early drop off of car on the April 7th, as the flight out on the 8th is at 6:30am. Get certified paperwork allowing us to take the car across the border to Copán from the main office downtown. Get the rent-a-car (Chevy Suburban with automatic trans & air conditioning; 3 days rental = $330) Go to hotel ("Crowne Plaza" in Guatemala City, address: Ave Las Americas 9 08 Zona 13, phone:00502-339-0676) Have dinner at hotel.
05 APRIL (Saturday)
Stop at supermarket and buy bottled water and bread. Drive to border of Honduras. (Approx 227km to Honduran border crossing at El Florido.) The last 50 km is over a dirt road. The border is open from 7am to 6pm. Allow 20 minutes or more to get get through multi-layered customs on both sides of the border. Drive the last 12 kilometers to the town of Copán Ruinas, go to hotel (reservations at Hotel Marina Copán, guaranteed prepaid, approx. $120 for 2 nights. Visit the Mayan museum in town. Have dinner at hotel.
06 APRIL (Sunday)
First thing in the morning, have breakfast and proceed to ruins at Copán. Spend entire day exploring Copán and the nearby residental ruins of Las Sepulturas. Have dinner in town, return to hotel in evening.
07 APRIL (Monday)
First thing in the morning, cross the border back into Guatemala. Drive back to Guatemala City. Check in at "Ramada Conquistador" hotel (Via 5 4 68 Zona 4, phone #011-502-331-2222, prepaid/guaranteed @$60). Visit the "Museo Nacional De Arquelogia y Etnologia". (Note: they are closed on Mondays.) The "Museum Popol Vuh" would also be worth visiting if they weren't also closed on Mondays. Turn in rent-a-car (counter at airport closes at 9pm), take taxi back to the hotel. Have dinner. Arrange for taxi for early the next morning to get to airport.
08 APRIL (Tuesday)
Take taxi or shuttle to airport. Leave on 6:30am flight to Flores. Arrive at Flores at 7:50am. Rent a car from a local car company, check in with Tikal Inn desk at airport. Drive the 71km from Flores to Tikal (one hour). Check into hotel. Have lunch in nearby comidor. Proceed to ruins, and spend rest of day exploring Tikal. Inquire with guard/guide for paying him to allow us back into the site after closing (returning around 4am) to watch the sunrise come up over the rainforest from the top of Temple 4. Return to hotel in the evening.
09 APRIL (Wednesday)
Return to Tikal ruins at 5am, proceed to top of Temple Four. After watching sunrise, explore the rest of the site. Leave in time to check out of the hotel, have lunch, and drive back to the airport. Arrive at Cancún at 7:40pm (one stop in-between at Chetemul). Get rent- a-car at Cancún (BUDGET rent-a-car, 4 door midsize w/ auto trans and air conditioning, quoted at $275 for 5 days plus Mérida drop off fee = $517.) Drive to hotel "Cancun Palace" (prepaid/guarant. at $89 for the night), get dinner. Use jacuzzi in room.
10 APRIL (Thursday)
Sleep in and recuperate. Have late breakfast, then drive down the coast to Tulum. Spend two hours exploring Tulum. Then drive to Cobá (use the new road). Get hotel room at Villa Arqueologicá @ Cobá (reserved by fax @ approx $50.65). Have dinner.
11 APRIL (Friday)
Explore ruins at Cobá in the morning, check out of hotel, drive to Chichén Itzá, get hotel room for the night. Hotel: "Hacienda Chichen", prepaid/guaranteed @$62. Have lunch. Spend rest of day exploring the ruins at Chichén Itzá. Return to hotel for dinner. Return to ruins in evening for sound & light show, then back to the hotel.
12 APRIL (Saturday)
Explore ruins some more until noon. Have lunch, check out of hotel. Drive to Uxmal (via Mérida). Get hotel room at the Villa Arquelogicá for two nights. Have dinner, go to sound & light show at 9pm, then back to the hotel.
13 APRIL (Sunday)
Spend morning exploring Uxmal. Return to hotel for lunch. Explore the Puuc sites of Kabah, Sayil, and Labná till 5pm. Return to hotel for dinner.
14 APRIL (Monday)
Return to Uxmal to explore remaining areas yet undone. Check out of hotel, drive to Mérida (78km, a one hour drive) for 4:10pm flight. Turn in rent-a-car, have lunch. If the flight had been later as originally scheduled, we could take the short drive north to Dzibilchaltún, and explore ruins for an hour or so. dinner. Take flight to Villahermosa (via Mexico City). Arrive at Villahermosa around 8pm. Take taxi to hotel, (Best Western hotel "Maya Tabasco", prepaid/guaranteed @$46.66, phone #011-52-93-144-466.) Check in and have dinner.
15 APRIL (Tuesday)
In morning, have breakfast. Go to Avis building near the airport and get the rent-a-car. (4 door auto trans w/ air, five day rental @$375 = $432 total). Drive the 142km to Palenque (approx 2 hours). Stop along the way to buy water and snacks. Get hotel (Calinda Nututun, guaranteed @$80.90 a night for three nights, phone #52-934-50100). Set up tour for next day (the 16th) taking a tour of Bonampak/Yaxchilán by car and boat for $300. Spend remainder of day exploring Palenque ruins, until it closes at 5pm. Drive to town of Santo Domingo Palenque and have dinner in local restaurant. Return to hotel for the evening.
16 APRIL (Wednesday)
Meet guide at 6am outside our hotel, he drives us to the Mayan ruins at Bonampak in his Volkswagon. We stop and pick up our Mayan Indian guide/escort (a young Lacandon Indian girl), and proceed to the site. We spend an hour at the site, then drive on to the little village of Frontera Escheverria, on the border of Mexico and Guatemala. From there we take a 45-minute small boat ride up the Usumacinta River to the Mayan site of Yaxchilán by river boat. We are given lunch at the site, and after exploring the ruins, we take the boat and car ride back to Palenque in time for dinner at the hotel.
17 APRIL (Thursday)
Continue exploring Palenque until midday. Visit museum at Palenque. Have lunch. Drive to waterfalls at Aqua Azul, and if time, Misol-Há. If time still remains, continue on to Mayan ruins at Toniná, outside of Ocisingo. Return to hotel for dinner.
18 APRIL (Friday)
Drive to Villahermosa. Check in at hotel Maya Tabasco. Visit the Olmec heads in La Parka Venta museum, and then the museum of anthropology. Return rent-a-car, and go to hotel for evening. Have dinner at hotel.
19 APRIL (Saturday)
Take a taxi to the airport. Leave Villahermosa on 8:35am flight to Mexico City. Arrive at 9:50am. Change planes, leave Mexico City on 1:15pm flight to Tijuana. Arrive at 3:45pm. Take a taxi across the border into the United States.
20 APRIL (Sunday)
Rest, recover, recuperate.