January 8-9-10-11, 2015

"Mr. Cernikovsky's Friends of Archaeology"  January 2015
... a trip by private plane to Yaxchilan, Bonampak, Palenque and "La Venta" in Villahermosa, Tabasco
Frescoes from Bonampak, photo taken recently by Mike & Marlene Foster  Frescoes from Bonampak, photo taken recently by Mike & Marlene Foster 
Updated January 12, 2015

We went January 8-11, 2015 to Yaxchilan, Bonampak, Palenque and the "La Venta" park in Villahermosa.  Archaeology in luxury.  33 places available (30 booked) on a private flight from Guatemala to Palenque and returning from Villahermosa to Guatemala.  This is archaeology with the experts.  See below for details of the trip. 
You can download the presentation by Tomás Barrientos at the start of the trip in our hotel in Palenque, which described the Maya sites of Yaxchilan, Bonampak and Palenque and gave an update on 2014 activities at La Corona.   Click here to download the Powerpoint fileThis file is about 22 Mb.

.... and click here to download his presentation the final day, at the "La Venta" park in Villahermosa, Tabasco, on the subject of the Olmecas. 
This file is about 33 Mb, so it will take a while to download, depending on your connection speed.

We are at it again.  At El Mirador in 2011, with two helicopters, we were just 20 people interested in exploring faraway Maya sites.  At Tak'alik Ab'aj, in 2012, we were now 43 of "Mr. Cernikovsky's Friends of Archaeology", as Christa Schieber, the director of that site called us after she and Marion Popenoe Hatch were able to determine, with our donation for radio carbon dating tests, that indeed they discovered the oldest Maya burial in Mesoamerica found to date.  In December 2013, with three helicopters, we visited the actively explored site of La Corona, with Tomas Barrientos, the co-director of that project.  Now, he will join us for this exciting trip. 

After all, we have all been to Tikal, Copan, Uaxactun, Yaxha, Chichen Itza and all the accessible sites.  But now we want to go deeper, further away from the routine trips and not like tourists.  We want to do it with friends, in luxury, and guided by archaeologists who know more about it than we do. We want to learn. At El Mirador, the director, Richard Hansen, sent with us one of his seasoned archaeologists to guide us.  See: http://www.cernikovsky.com/Mirador.htm.  On our Tak'alik Ab'aj tour, we had a detailed presentation about the site by the expert, Marion Popenoe, see:  http://www.cernikovsky.com/Takalik/2012.htm.  At La Corona (http://www.cernikovsky.com/lacorona/2013.htm) we went with Tomas Barrientos, the co-director of La Corona and of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (Marion Popenoe's student and the Director of the Archaeology Department that she founded).  He will come with us on this trip!
Click to see a larger image

This page gives you information about the trip.

This trip is over four days, with a private plane from TAG, directly to Chiapas and returning from Tabasco.  It normally takes two days to drive to these places.

The trip included a boat ride on the Usumacinta river, which divides Mexico and Guatemala, the spectacular Mayan sites of Yaxchilan and Bonampak, with its stunning frescoes, a detailed tour of Palenque and a guided visit, with an expert presentation, of the Olmec treasures in the "La Venta" park in Villahermosa, Tabasco.  It costs $1,595 per person.  30 people are going, and that includes Tomas Barrientos, our resident expert, head of archaeology at the UVG.  Marion Hatch Popenoe, who was our expert at the 2012 Tak'alik Ab'aj and who founded the archaeology depertment at UVG, of which Tomas Barrientos is now director, is also coming with us on the trip!

The price of the trip again includes a splendid hotel, transfers, food, drink, mariachis, entrances to sites and, first of all, a private plane to get there quickly and stay there longer.  Lorraine and I did the trip last April by car ... let me tell you .. small roads and hundreds of tumulos (Mexican "topes") make it a big deal.  By road, it takes 3-4 days to get there and back.  We will fly over all that. We will have three days there, out of a total of 3-1/2 day trip. There is a list below of details.


Where are we going ?


What is the plan ?  Why you should join the trip.


Links of interest for you to study before you decide to join us


What does the cost of the trip include ?


When do I have to pay ?


Who is going ?


This is the trip.  Day One, January 8 ... we fly from Guatemala, with a stop in Tapachula, to a brand new airport in Palenque.  Day Two, January 9, a bus trip to Corozal, high speed boats on the Usumacinta River to Yaxchilan.  Lunch in Corozal and a buses to Bonampak.  Day 3, January 10, take it easy in the hotel and afternoon visit to Palenque.  Day 4, January 11, two buses to Villahermosa, visit of the Olmec heads in "La Venta" in Villahermosa and a flight back to Guatemala in the afternoon.  Buses back to Antigua.
For your reference, I have indicated the locations of the 2011 trip to El Mirador, 2012 to Tak'alik Ab'aj and 2013 to La Corona. 


This is not really a travel agency, just a hobby arranging trips with "Mr. Cernikovsky's Friends of Archeology" to faraway and inaccessible Maya sites.
If you need helicopter service for another day, please call Brayant Pellecer of Alejandra Chamale, at 2384-2340
HASA is arranging our flights and you can use them, too, for your travel needs!  Click to visit them to learn of their services.

Click the logo to see details of the SAAB 340A that we used on our trip.
Click for more info about Hotel Maya Internacional and on their website, select the right hotel

Click their logo to browse around this beautiful hotel with cottages in the Chiapas jungle.

January 4-5-6-7:  I need your passport!  I will take it to TAG and they will pass it bthrough immigration.

Thursday January 8

- Meet at my house, for a briefing in the VIP Departure Area

- Two buses leave for La Aurora airport

- Check-in at TAG, Private Aviation side of La Aurora airport.  Our own private flight.

10:00 - Departure for Tapachula

               Please note that you can bring up to 35 pounds of baggage!  

The usual $33 Guatemala departure tax that is included in your routine flights out of Guatemala, is also included in the cost of our trip, as is the $44 Mexican departure tax when we return. 

11:00 E.T.A. Tapachula.  Get from the plane, pass Migracion.  Get back on the plane to Palenque.

14:00  - Arrived in Palenque.  Two buses from Palenque airport to the Chan-Kah Resort Village.  A quick check-in and a table in reception to pick up a sandwich and a beer, water or soda as you go to your cottage.  You can relax in your cottage, swim in the beautiful pools, or use the hotel's restaurant and bar during the afternoon.  The quicker our flight is, the more time to relax.

Your room has A/C, TV, a ceiling fan, an outdoor patio, and is set in the jungle.  But modern conveniences, such as the bar and restaurant, are close by.  There is room service and poolside service.

INTERNET:  with your laptop, i-Pad or phone, you will detect Wi-Fi in your room.  It is the main line wireless transmission to the hotel from the town and, as much as I tried in April, the hotel's IT guy could not let me into it. It is encrypted. However, it feeds Wi-Fi which you can log into in the reception area ... plenty of seats.  They said it works in the restaurant also, I did not try this.  But it worked fine in the reception area. 

17:00 - 17:30 Open bar, beer, wine, water, sodas, next to a conference room to the right of the reception area.  This is to the right of Reception. Please get your drink and bring it in to join us for a presentation.
17:49 -  Sunset

17:30 - 19:00   
- Welcome to Chiapas!

Presentation by Tomas Barrientos
, head of the Archaeology Department at the Universidad del Valle.  What was Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak in the Maya world ?  What are we going to see tomorrow ?  How does it relate to things we know in Guatemala ... Tikal, El Mirador, la Corona, Tak'alik Ab'aj.  Q & A with Tomas, and I imagine we may stretch it a bit, as Marion Popenoe Hatch, coming with us on the trip, may help with the Q & A. 

19:15  - two buses leave from just outside the conference room for the stream-side Don Manuel restaurant in Hotel Nututun, a few kilometers away.  There will be a buffet dinner.  It's a very nice place, with friendly service.  Lorraine and I have tried it in April this year. 

When we get back home, please go to sleep ... tomorrow is a big day!

Friday January 9

06:00  - coffee by the Reception

06:30 - Two buses leave from the reception area.  This will be a long day.

06:40 - Sunrise

08:00  - Breakfast in Restaurante Valle Escondido in the Chiapas jungle, heading toward the Guatemalan border.  This is drug-trafficking country, but on the Mexican side, from personal experience, I know it is heavily policed to protect the tourists.  All totally safe.  Mexico impresses me how they do things. 

09:30   - Corozal, Mexico-Guatemala border. This is the wild-wild West all over again.  Smuggling, drugs, illegal emigrants, and affluent tourists all there at the same, but do NOT blend together.  The tourists always come out safe and never notice anything.

We get three high-speed boats to take us down the Usumacinta river, Mexico on the left, Guatemala on the right, to Yaxchilan.  A walking tour of Yaxchilan, a splendid late-classic Maya site, where the river makes an almost 360 bend, the land sticking into Guatemala, but Mexican territory.

We then get the boats for the return trip, slower up the stream.

14:00 - lunch in Corozal, with beers, sodas, water, etc.

15:00 -
buses leave for Bonampak

Bonampak is one of the most amazing Maya sites, it was a dependency of Yaxchilan, but the fame it has earned comes from the frescoes, some of which we will see (in small groups).  In addition to being amongst the most well-preserved Maya murals, the Bonampak murals are noteworthy for debunking early assumptions that the Maya were a peaceful culture of mystics, as the murals clearly depict war and human sacrifice.

- return to our hotel, late, but dinner will be waiting for us. 

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Frescoes from Bonampak, photo taken recently by Mike & Marlene Foster 
Saturday January 10

08:00 breakfast at the hotel

RELAXATE! Morning.  You can relax in your room or swim in the pools.

I have also arranged a bus to leave the hotel (16-18 seats) at 9 and 9:30 and 10 a.m. into the town of Palenque.  It will go to "Che", no, not Che Guevara, but the new local branch of the Chedraui supermarkets, in case you want to sightsee, shop, buy Mexican things (it has ATM machines).  The bus will return at 10:30 and 11:00 and 11:30.

- a simple lunch at the hotel

- two buses leave from the reception for Palenque, only one kilometer away.  We will visit the Palenque museum first, with Tomas Barrientos.  Then the "ruinas de Palenque".  These are mobbed by crowds in the morning.  In later afternoon, it gets cooler and the crowds go away.  We will probably pay for staying past the closing hour of 5 p.m. to have the site pretty much to ourselves. 

- sunset

- two buses leave Palenque for Restaurante La Selva.  A big Mexican meal and Mariachis!  Viva Mexico!  Enjoy!
Sunday January 11

07:30 -
breakfast at the hotel

- check-out. 

09:00  - Two buses will take us to Villahermosa, 150 kilometers away.

11:00 -
"La Venta" Park, Villahermosa.  This is where the vast majority of the Olmec treasures, found as oil-drilling reached the remote state of Tabasco in the 1920's and 30's are now located.  We visited the actual site of La Venta, north of Villahermosa, last April, but it is empty, all the treasures are either in Mexico City or in Villahermosa. 
A presentation by Tomas Barrientos, in an air-conditioned room they have in the park.  It will be a little crowded, some people may have to stand.  A guided walk around the site.

14:00 - outdoor pic-nic lunch in the park.

15:00 - two buses to the Villahermosa airport.

16:00 - leave for Guatemala, E.T.A.  17:30

Buses will wait to take you to Antigua and drop you off at your house.  V.I.P. service!

click to see a larger image 

Amazing Olmec items al "La Venta" ... April 2014
click to see a larger image 

Villahermosa, Tabasco

Why should you join the tour ?

First, Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak are among the most spectacular Maya sites. But they are two days' drive from Antigua and the roads are full of hundreds of "topes", making progress extremely slow.  We know from experience, we drove to Mexico City in April and returned via Villahermosa and Palenque.  If you look at the distances, they do not seem much, but just to road from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas, 200 kilometers, should take 2-3 hours, but takes six.  We will fly over all that in our own plane. 

Second, when you get there, you get a guide.  We will, too.  But we will have two expert archaeologists with us.  Marion Popenoe Hatch is coming as a fellow traveller.  Her best student, who has taken over her Department of Archaeology at the Universidad del Valle, who was our guide at La Corona last year, will be coming with us and will make a couple of exciting expert presentations to set the places we will see, Maya and Olmec, into perspective.  After the Maya sites, we will visit the Olmec statues in Villahermosa.

Third, this is "Archaeology in Luxury", with a nice hotel and meals and drinks in nice restaurants.

Links of interest:      Yaxchilan       Bonampak      Palenque     "La Venta"

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January 8-9-10-11, 2015  ... What does the trip cost and what does it include ?

he cost is $1,595 per person
and it includes the following:

bulletbus from Antigua to La Aurora airport
bulletprivate flight from Guatemala to Palenque
bullet35 lbs. luggage allowance.  Guatemala departure tax of $33 is included
bulletbus transfer Palenque airport - hotel Chan Kah
bullet3 nights in Hotel Chan Kah in either single or double room
bulletpresentation by Tomas Barrientos of UVG the evening or arrival, with a bar outside the conference room
bulletdinner the night of arrival in Hotel Nututun, with 2 drinks, beer, wine, sodas, water.  You are responsible for any additional drinks.  Bus transfers
bulletsecond day, all day trip in two buses, breakfast along the way, to Corozal, transfer to boats on the Usumacinta River, tour of Yaxchilan, lunch in Corozal, tour of Bonampak.  Entrance fees and guides. 
bulletDinner at the hotel, with 2 drinks, beer, wine, sodas, water.  You are responsible for any additional drinks.
bulletthird day, breakfast at the hotel. 
bulletBuses between the hotel and Chedraui supermarket in the town of Palenque
bulletbuffet lunch at the hotel, with 2 drinks, beer, wine, sodas, water.  You are responsible for any additional drinks.
bullettour of Palenque Museum and the Palenque ruins, entrance fees included.
bulletdinner at La Selva, a nice Mexican restaurant, with mariachis, with 2 drinks, beer, wine, sodas, water.  You are responsible for any additional drinks.  Bus transfers
bulletfourth day, breakfast at the hotel
bulletBus transfer to Villahermosa, 150 kilometers
bulletVisit to "La Venta" park.  Presentation by Tomas Barrientos about the Olmec history and culture.  Tour of the park. Entrance fee included.
bulletPic nic lunch in the park
bulletBus transfer to Villahermosa airport.  Private flight back to Guatemala's La Aurora.  Mexico $44 departure tax included.
bulletbus transfer to Antigua, which will drop you off at your home
bulleta fun, interesting trip, totally unique in the company of Guatemala's top archaeologists and lots of friends                    go back to the top ^
What happens if there is any money left over ?

I do not do this for a profit.  I hope that I will break even.  The costs of this trip are higher that before, with a private plane, departure taxes, three nights in a nice hotel and a lot of meals and drinks, entrance fees, bus transfers and so on.  I hope that I will break even.  I have built a tiny 2% reserve for exchange rate fluctuations and a 2% for any contingency expenses. 

In previous trips, we donated $100 per person to El Mirador and $50 per person on the larger trips to Tak'alik Ab'aj and La Corona.  This time, there are no donations, but if I have any money left over, I will donate it to the la Corona project, given that it's co-director, Tomas Barrientos has agreed to travel with us as an expert guide.

We have do this before!  Mr. Cernikovsky's Friends of Archaeology previous trips:

January 2011      - El Mirador with 20

December 2012  - Tak'alik Ab'aj with 43 

December 2013  - La Corona with 36   

To find out more: 

                                 Tel:   7832-8466
                                 Cel:   5916-5331

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Frescoes from Bonampak, photo taken recently by Mike & Marlene Foster

Many thanks to Mike & Marlene Foster, who recently visited Bonampak and took the photos above and these.  People are allowed, in small groups, into the three chambers with vivid frescoes.
Frescoes from Bonampak, photo taken recently by Mike & Marlene Foster 

Bonampak frescoes
Palenque is spectacular.  We went, in April, to check the hotel, bus companies and also the ruins of Palenque for you.  We found them acceptable and worth your visit.

Click to see a larger image 
30 people were on the trip

Jim Appleby
Tomas Barrientos
Tom Blakely

Gene Budinger
Tomas Cernikovsky

Sarah Cohen
Linda Cohen
Elena Fuetsch
Joan Fuetsch
Andrea Hunt

Sylvia Jauregui
Andree Lagainere
Susan Mandell

Raul & Cindy Montenegro
Stan & Claire Odland
Marion Popenoe Hatch
Kevin & Suzanne Roche
Hilda Rodgers

Kathy Rose
Judy Sadlier
Glenn Specht
Gail Terzuola

Ken & Winifred Veronda
Hal Vogel
Linda Walters
Karen White

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To  www.Cernikovsky.com main page. 

This page was last updated on 02/20/19.