Book of Mormon Geography Tour (11 days/10 nights) / Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico (March 6 to 16, 2020)
A Memorable Book of Mormon Lands Tour / Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico (11 days/10 nights)
DAY 1 – Fri. Mar. 6th (Guatemala City)
PM We arrive at the Guatemala City airport and transfer by shuttle to our hotel for check-in and dinner with an orientation and briefing. We will overnight at our hotel.
DAY 2 – Sat. Mar. 7th (LDS Temple/Kaminaljuyu)
AM After breakfast we will visit the Guatemala City temple. Please bring your temple recommends with you. Next we will transfer to the Guatemala Relief Map, a large outdoor relief map to visualize the topography of the areas we will be traveling and to gain a greater understanding of proposed geographical models of the lands of the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica (Alma 22:27).
PM We will transfer to the ancient archaeological site of Kaminaljuyu proposed as a possible candidate for the City of Nephi. Kaminaljuyu developed over a long 2000 year period during the Preclassic Maya (1500 BC – 250 AD) and Classic Maya (250 AD – 900 AD) periods. Interestingly, archaeological excavations at the site uncovered evidence of significant changes in the religious and civic practices of the city in the 1st Century AD similar to changes in other cities of the Maya world during the time. The record at Kaminaljuyu shows that they likely abandoned the worship of their kings as evidenced from the altered construction of their ceremonial temples. For example, monuments and temples were no longer erected in honor and worship of their kings, and handmade clay female figurines were no longer crafted signaling the abandonment of the practice of the fertility cult. Also, trade artifacts found at the site during this phase show new trade routes were opened with peoples to the north and northwest of the site and, in fact, at the same time there were mass migrations from the city towards the north into areas where no previous relations had existed.
We will visit the Acropolis, one of the few temple complexes preserved at the site and discuss the reasons for temple rites ancient and modern and our responsibility to build temples today to perform sacred ordinances for the salvation and exaltation of the living and the dead (2 Nephi 5:16, Malachi 3:1, 4:5-6, D&C 128:11-13, 24 D&C 138:46-49). Afterward we will return to our hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
DAY 3 – Sun. Mar. 8th (LDS Church and Orphanage)
AM After breakfast, we will check out of our hotel and transfer to San Lucas Sacatepequez to attend sacrament meeting with our fellow brothers and sisters in the sacramental covenant. We will enjoy the music and spoken word of the meeting in the beautiful Spanish language and in the spirit of harmony that characterize meetings led by the Holy Spirit (Moroni 6:9).
PM We will transfer along the continental divide further into the western highlands with its vistas of terraced hillsides and colorfully dressed indigenous women to a small community outside Godinez, Solola to visit the Safe Homes for Children orphanage. We will play with the children, teach them a new game or song, and spend quality time with them to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of their hopes, dreams and challenges. Afterward we will retire to our hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
DAY 4 – Mon. Mar. 9th (Lake Atitlan)
AM After breakfast, we will visit beautiful Lake Atitlan, a large caldera lake proposed to be the Waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18:16, 30). Interestingly, on the southwest side of the lake is a submerged Mayan ceremonial site called today Samabaj, that possibly dates to the 1st Century AD and has been proposed as the city of Jerusalem covered by water in the destruction at Christ’s death (3 Ne 9:7) like other cities such as Moroni, Onihah, and Mocum during the cataclysmic events at the time of Christ’s death (3 Nephi 8:9). We will take a boat ride on the lake to a secluded place (Mosiah 18:4-5) to discuss what true conversion means to disciples of Jesus Christ who willingly enter into a covenant of baptism (Mosiah 18:8-10). Afterward, we will return to Panajachel and check into our hotel for dinner and an overnight stay.
PM Afterward we will visit the San Buenaventura nature reserve to feed the spider monkeys and coati mundis and hike its trails and suspension bridges. For the adventurous members of the group we will add a zipline tour (optional) for exhilarating and breathtaking vistas of the lake below. Afterward we will return to our hotel for dinner and overnight stay.
DAY 5 – Tues. Mar. 10th (El Chayal)
AM After breakfast and check-out we will transfer back across the country to Copan, in western Honduras. En route we will stop briefly along the highway aprox. 20 km northeast of the capital at El Chayal (“obsidian” in the Kakchikel Maya language), the most important obsidian mine in the Mayan world. Over many years vast quantities of black obsidian were mined at El Chayal and later chiseled and formed into arrow and spear points, axe and knife blades, and related cutting devices and tools. John Sorensen, a Book of Mormon scholar has proposed that El Chayal is Onidah, the place of arms mentioned as a gathering place for the Lamanite armies (Alma 47:5).
PM We will continue our journey and cross the Honduran border before checking into our hotel in Copan for dinner and an overnight stay.
DAY 6 – Wed. Mar. 11th (Copan)
AM After breakfast we will visit the impressive site of Copan, a Classic Maya city on the Copan river known for its remarkably well preserved monumental epigraphy. We will visit the ceremonial center of pyramids, temples, palaces, and residences and review the history of the city recorded on its many monuments and stela. At the famous Hieroglyphic Stairway with its lengthy dynastic inscriptions we will point out the six pointed symbol of two interlocking, inverted triangles remarkably similar to the Star of David. We will also visit a ceremonial plaza used to mark important dates on the Haab and sacred Tzolk’in Mesoamerican calendars and a restored Mayan ball court where opposing teams representing the dual forces of light and darkness often played a high stakes game of death. Copan rose to prominence during the Classic Maya period, after the close of the Book of Mormon, in large part due to its tributary control of the trade routes on the Motagua river, although its early history shows Olmec influence, the earliest known civilization of Mesoamerica, thought by many Book of Mormon scholars to be the Jaredite civilization (Ether).
PM We will return to our hotel to relax before dinner and an overnight stay.
DAY 7 – Thurs. Mar. 12th (Quirigua)
AM After breakfast we will check-out of our hotel and transfer back across the border to visit the ruins of Quirigua, a Classic Maya city on the Motagua river also known for its remarkably well preserved, large scale stela and zoomorphic monuments. Quirigua holds the largest monolith of the Maya Classic period; Stela E at Quirigua stands 35 feet tall and weighs aprox. 65 tons that depicts K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Yopaat (Fire Burning Sky Lightning God), the 8th Century king who commissioned most of the existing monoliths of the ceremonial site. The Times and Seasons Vol. III published at Nauvoo in Oct. 1842 referenced passages of the John Lloyd Stevens’ important work Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan and suggested that Quirigua was the City of Zarahemla because of its proximity to a prominent river (Alma 6:7) and detailed stone inscriptions (Omni 1:20-21). Of course, we know from archaeological excavations today that the site was occupied principally from the 5th Century AD to the 9th Century AD after the close of the Book of Mormon but the extravagant, larger than life stela at the site remind us that power and pride precede destruction (2 Nephi 26:10-11). We will discuss pride as enmity toward God manifest in many forms and ways throughout history up to our present day and how to protect ourselves from their corrupting influences.
PM We will transfer to Poptun, Guatemala for check-in and dinner and an overnight stay at our hotel.
DAY 8 – Fri. Mar. 13th (Tikal)
AM After breakfast, we will transfer to the city of Tikal, an influential Classic Maya city in the heartland of the lowland Maya. We will visit the North Acropolis and several pyramid complexes including the twin mortuary pyramids of Temple I and II, and also the Lost World complex, the Central Acropolis, and Temples III, IV, and V. At Temple IV, built by Yik’in Chan K’awiil (K’awiil God Who Darkens the Sky), we will discuss the architectural alignments of the temples within the ceremonial complex of Tikal from which Mayan daykeepers anciently kept sacred dates on their agricultural calendar which embedded the farming cycles for maize.
We will also describe and discuss the significance of the celestial serpent on Lintel 3 found inside the chambers of the temple shrine atop Temple IV associated with the feathered serpent worshipped by the Maya. The source of this important Creator God whose motif is found at many ceremonial sites across Mesoamerica is considered by Book of Mormon scholars to be Jehovah or Jesus Christ the Creator, Healer and Savior of all those who receive Him (Num. 21:8-9, John 3:14-15). We will tie together the importance of our relationship with Jesus Christ and the constant need to keep our eyes focused on Him as our fixed point of reference eternally (Alma 33:19-22).
PM We will finish the foot tour at a café restaurant inside the park for a well deserved lunch break and afterward visit a museum to see artifacts recovered from ongoing excavations. Time permitting; we will have the option to add the Tikal Canopy tour for those interested in another adventure for the day. We will return to Flores for dinner and an overnight stay at our hotel.
DAY 9 – Sat. Mar. 14th (New River/Lamanai)
A M Today we depart from Flores and cross the Belizean border at Melchor de Mencos. We will then transfer to the New River and take a boat upriver to the archaeological site of Lamanai which is proposed by etymologists to mean “submerged crocodile” in the Yucatec Mayan language. Interestingly, the name of this site is recognized by Book of Mormon scholars as a cognate of Laman or Lamoni, important names of Lamanite kings in the Book of Mormon. According to an early 16th Century AD Catholic church records at the site, Lamanai is thought to be one of the few Maya sites for which the ancient name has been preserved. At Lamanai, we will discuss the meaning of the Mayan world tree or tree of life as it relates to their understanding of the physical and spiritual worlds. We will relate the world tree to Lehi and Nephi’s dreams (1 Nephi 8:10 and 11:7) to gain a better understanding of what the tree of life represents to us and how we can partake of the love of God which brings joy and purpose to our lives.
PM We will return by boat down the river to our waiting bus and transfer to Corozal for dinner and an overnight stay at our hotel.
DAY 10 – Sun. Mar. 15th (Tulum)
AM After breakfast we will visit the local LDS church for sacrament meeting and then return to our hotel for check-out. Next, we will transfer to the border crossing at Chetumal.
PM We will transfer up the coast of Quintana Roo to the ceremonial city of Tulum, a late Post Classic Maya city (1200 AD to 1600 AD) built on the edge of a 12 meter cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Although Tulum does not date to the times of the Book of Mormon, it is interesting to note that it was conserved as a religious center for Mayan priests. We will visit the El Castillo temple, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending and Diving God, associated with Kukulkan, the feathered serpent, and the Venus diety worshipped throughout Mesoamerica and considered by Book of Mormon scholars today to be Jesus Christ. Interestingly, Venus is one of the morning and evening stars, another title of Jesus Christ. We will recall the eye witness account of Christ appearance as the resurrected Lord God to his people at the temple in Bountiful after his ascension at Jerusalem (3 Nephi 11:7-11).
Afterward we will transfer to our hotel in Cancun for check-in and a farewell dinner before saying “adios” to those who have helped to create many unforgettable memories. We will overnight at our hotel.
DAY 11 – Mon. Mar. 16th (Return flight)
AM After breakfast and check-out, we will transfer to the Cancun international airport for our return flight to the U.S. Buen Viaje!
(All Inclusive hotel packages)
For those interested in staying one or more days after our designated tour, ask us for more information about our special group discounts for Mexican Riviera resorts in Playa del Carmen and Cancun. The all inclusive, all-you-can-eat resort packages offer a wide variety of activities such as paddle boats, wind surfing, sailing, snorkeling, swimming or sunbathing in several outdoor pools. They also offer miniature golf, 3-hole golf, ping pong, basketball, water and beach volleyball, water and beach front aerobics, an obstacle course, and evening entertainment.
Depending on your length of stay, you may also choose to participate in other activities and excursions such as swimming with dolphins and other marine animals, parasailing, wave runners, 4-runners, jungle zip line or excursions to Chichen Itza, Xcaret, Coba, Cenote Ikil, or scuba and snorkeling tours.
This 11 day/10 night Book of Mormon geography tour package price is $2195 per person (based on double occupancy) and includes ground, water and air transportation (excludes international airfare), bilingual LDS guide, park and museum entrance fees, hotel accommodations, breakfasts, dinners, tips, and taxes. A $250 deposit secures your space on the trip with the balance due within 60 days of beginning of tour.