Join us for a 9-day small group custom escorted tour, featuring 5 days in the beautiful old colonial city of Antigua, and 3 days at Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes and charming market villages. You will have the option to spend a day at Tikal, site of the spiritual and stunning Mayan ruins, or a free day in Antigua.
Day 1: Depart US – Arrive in Guatemala City – Transfer to Antigua
Arrive at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City, transfer to Antigua and our hotel. Free afternoon depending on flight arrivals.
Antigua is among the world’s best-conserved colonial cities. Its Spanish colonial architecture, central park and charming cobblestone streets offer a glimpse of ancient splendor! Antigua combines colonial history with an astounding array of cultural activities, including art galleries and exhibits, performing arts, popular arts, fine restaurants, jade galleries, and native textiles and crafts. Our charming ‘boutique hotel’ is beautifully decorated with antiques and locally woven fabrics. Antigua, the capital, is one of the loveliest small cities in the world, and also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Only a short flight from the US, but with a wonderful away-from-it-all ambience, Antigua is majestic. It is nestled between three dramatic volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango.
Day 2: Transfer to Lake Atitlan via Chichicastenango
Breakfast at hotel. 8:00 am transfer to Lake Atitlán.
Lake Atitlán is a deep blue gem encircled by impressive volcanoes and indigenous highland villages. Our hotel sits magnificently on the lakeshore, surrounded by lovely botanical gardens.
We have the exceptional opportunity to stop and visit the bustling highland market of Chichicastenango, which is only open on Sundays and Thursdays. Here at Chichicastenango, various ethnic groups trading goods and services can be traced back to ancient Maya roots. At the market we’ll see the distinctive textiles and primitive art that this area is famous for.
Day 3: Lake Atitlán: San Juan La Laguna & Santiago Atitlán Villages
Breakfast at the hotel. We enjoy a scenic boat ride across the lake, past the three impressive volcanoes of Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro to visit the traditional Maya village of San Juan La Laguna. We will visit a co-operative where local women grow their own cotton, spin it by hand, and use natural dyes to color it before weaving it into fabric on a back-strap loom. We will have demonstrations with explanations given to us of this remarkable native art. There will also be opportunities to visit an artist’s gallery with naïf paintings and a glimpse of this diverse culture, and to discover natural medicines and herbal remedies still often used by locals. We return to our boat to continue our adventure to the Maya town of Santiago Atitlán where we can admire the beautiful textiles and religious heritage of these proud people.
Day 4: Lake Atitlán: Santa Catarina Palopo & San Antonio Palopo
Breakfast at hotel. Half day trip to the villages of San Antonio Palopo, a charming town known for its unique hand-painted pottery and fabulous views of the lake, and Santa Catarina Palopo, a quaint Maya village where we will visit the weaving center devoted to traditional back-strap loom weaving. Option for more shopping time in Panajachel. Afternoon at leisure.
Day 5: Transfer to Antigua with visit to local deity
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Antigua with a visit en route to San Simon, a local deity, where we can observe Mayan religious ceremonies and cleaning rituals.
Day 6: Antigua
Breakfast at hotel. Starting at 9:00 am enjoy a half-day walking tour of Antigua covering a wide range of themes from history and architecture to where to shop and eat, including La Merced, Antigua Cathedral, and San Francisco Church. Includes guide, private transportation, and entrance fees to monuments. Free afternoon.
Day 7: Holy Vigil and Santa Maria de Jesús
Breakfast at our hotel. Our first stop is the nearby village of Santa Catarina Bobadilla. We have a unique opportunity to experience firsthand how this culture prepares for and participates in a Holy Vigil marking the first Friday of Lent. An elaborate and beautiful religious tableau or scene will have been constructed in the village hall. In front of this, the villagers will have designed and formed a beautiful and intricate “carpet” made out of flowers, pine needles, and the most exquisite out of dyed sawdust. The design and religious representations vary, using geometric shapes, birds, animals — every year the depiction is different. The carpet is not woven, and cannot be rolled up and reused, it is simply swept away. That is part of its beauty – all that effort for just one day… an offering to God. Gifts of fruit, vegetables, flowers, breads, etc. will have been placed around the edges of the carpet.
Outside of the church, the local people will be selling food and curiosities.
Then we will continue driving to the Maya village of Santa María de Jesus, on the side of Agua volcano. Friday is one of its market days and the women still wear their traditional clothing. It is a lovely opportunity to see a local village full of color, and to enjoy the views along the drive.
Day 8: Tikal (optional)
Breakfast at hotel and free day for those not going to Tikal.
Day trip to the famous Maya ruins at Tikal. Includes airport transport, English-speaking guide in Tikal, entry fees, and lunch in restaurant at the site.
Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the Pre-Columbian Maya Civilization. It is part of a vast national park and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Enjoy a private guided tour of the site with its huge temples rising up through the jungle canopy, and a variety of colorful animals, birds and over 2000 tropical plant species. The park totals 576 square kilometers, but the city itself comprises approx. 31 km with 4000 structures,many still not totally excavated. The Grand Plaza forms the initial axis that defines Tikal.
(B or L)
Day 9: Depart to U.S.
Breakfast at hotel: Transfer to La Aurora airport for international departures.
Hotel Posada del Angel: Established in 1993, Posada del Angel is Antigua's pioneer boutique hotel offering authentic local experiences where every detail and moment has been curated by local connoisseurs who want to share Antigua’s Maya and Spanish heritages. Posada del Angel is an intimate hotel in a world-class cultural destination. Located on a cobblestone quiet street, a few blocks from the main plaza, Posada del Angel occupies an original Spanish colonial Casona where everything happens behind closed doors, only for guests who stay in its seven rooms which surround a central patio, a small lap pool, a romantic garden and a dramatic roof terrace overlooking Volcán Agua.
Hotel Atitlan: With 60 rooms total, each room is personally decorated by a member of the family, and has its own private balcony and breathtaking view. Reflecting the native culture, the décor is a unique blend of hand-woven fabrics, handcrafted furniture, paintings and other art from the many indigenous villages in the region. The floors are traditional tile and covered by area rugs that are also hand-made. The restaurant features regional and international dishes of delectable taste and flavor. Most of the fruits and vegetables are organically grown in farms adjacent to the hotel grounds. Savor your meal while enjoying a breathtaking view of Lake Atitlan and the surrounding volcanoes. The magnificent gardens of Hotel Atitlan are teeming with flowers of every description and color, with over two hundred varieties of roses, more than 50 varieties of hibiscus, vines, English style knot gardens and a tropical heliconia garden. The spectacular gardens also include a wedding garden, a coffee garden and an azalea garden. Strolling the gardens with breathtaking sights of the pristine lake and volcanoes provides the ultimate ambiance for relaxation and retreat for your body and soul.
Guatemala "land of forests"
The name Guatemala, meaning land of forests, was derived from one of the Maya dialects spoken at the time of the Spanish conquest in 1523. Guatemala is the most diverse of all the Central American countries and has a strong and active indigenous Maya population. While traditional native dress has disappeared in many parts of the world, Guatemala remains a place where a high percentage of the indigenous people still proudly wear their traditional dress called traje.
Attractions range from picturesque Mayan ruins and steaming volcanoes, to lush jungles with exotic flora and uncrowded beaches. You will never find yourself at a loss for things to do. Though the largest country in Central America, Guatemala is no bigger than Tennessee. This means that you can effectively see the best of what the country has to offer in one vacation. But with its warm indigenous culture and its range of breathtaking settings, you might find yourself coming back for seconds, even thirds!
Among the world’s best-conserved colonial cities, Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has churches and cathedrals, inviting plazas, and a lakefront location. Its setting is majestic, nestled between three dramatic volcanoes: Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. Several historic buildings frame the central square: the Ayuntamiento, or City Hall, and the Captain General Palace are known for their lovely arches. Antigua is one of the most inviting small cities in the world. Its colonial history combines with an array of cultural activities including art galleries, performing arts, fine restaurants, jade galleries, and hand-made textiles.
One of the most scenic attraction in Guatemala, Lake Atitlán is a deep blue gem. Located at an elevation of over 5,000 feet above sea level, it is surrounded by volcanoes and indigenous highland villages. The area has many market towns like Comalapa, known for their painters and handicrafts such as weaving and jade jewelry. It's a pleasure to meet the people who proudly sell their wares at the many markets. Our hotel sits magnificently on the lakeshore with lovely tropical gardens and hiking trails.
- Hike a Volcano – The Pacaya Volcano is one of the most, if not the most climbed volcanoes in Guatemala. Rising to an altitude of 8,371 feet, the Pacaya volcano has been continually active since 1965. Found near Lake Atitlán, you can hike the volcano by yourself, but for safety reasons and for the sake of information, it is a good idea to use a guide. One of the biggest thrills of climbing Pacaya, besides the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, is the opportunity to peer inside its cone.
- Chichicastenango Market – This is easily among the more popular Guatemala attractions. Every Thursday and Sunday, the Chichicastenango market is a colorful, often chaotic affair. The Quiché Maya and other vendors come from around the country who to sell their immaculate hand-made products. The atmosphere itself is enough to make the trip worthwhile. Of the various textiles available, the most popular are the blouses made by the Maya women.
One of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the Pre-Columbian Maya Civilization, Tikal is part of a vast National Park and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Huge temples rise up through the jungle canopy, and a variety of animals, birds and over 2000 tropical plant species are on show.
- Explore some Mayan Ruins. Throughout what is known as Guatemala today, the ancient Mayans erected some of their greatest cities. Tikal and El Mirador are among the best pre-Columbian cities built anywhere in the Americas, and visiting one or both is among the more memorable things to do.
- All Excellent Accommodations
- Breakfast at the hotels
- Day Trip to Tikal included in the Extension Rate
- Private Ground Transportation
- Local English Speaking Guide
- 10 People Maximum
- International Air Travel Booked Separately – Call for Quote
- Meals other than those stated
- Gratuities for porters, drivers and guides
- Personal expenses
Travel with tour guide Sunny Reynolds, who has been showing the world to travelers since 1992. While this is not exclusively a photo tour, Sunny Reynolds as a professional photographer is happy to help all levels of photographers take better photos of their adventures.
- Rates Based on Double Occupancy
- Single Supplement Applies
- Subject to Availability
- All Prices subject to change