Guatemala: Marvels & Mayan Mysteries

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Day 1

    

Antigua Guatemala

Day notes

Welcome to Guatemala! 

On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your luxury boutique hotel in Antigua to settle in and have the evening to relax after your international travel. 

Founded in the 16th-century, Antigua is a cosmopolitan destination with a rich colonial past. Its cobblestone streets are lined with pretty, pastel-hued homes, luxe boutique hotels, and an exceptional selection of smart restaurants and shops. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, this city of 35,000 people sits in a valley between coffee farms, indigenous villages, and three imposing volcanoes. At the heart of town is the Parque Central, a European-style plaza busy with shoe-shiners, ice cream vendors, families, and tourists. During its architectural peak, Antigua was home to dozens of colonial monuments, churches, and monasteries, but an earthquake in 1773 damaged or reduced most to rubble. In the centuries thereafter, efforts were made to rebuild and restore, and today the city is filled with melancholy but gorgeous relics and ruins.

Scheduled Flight from Los Angeles International Airport [LAX] to La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Details  
Mode

Scheduled Flight

Departure

Los Angeles International Airport [LAX]

Arrival

La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Scheduled Flight

Transfer from La Aurora International Airport [GUA] to El Convento Boutique Hotel

Details  
Mode

Transfer

Pick up

La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Drop off

El Convento Boutique Hotel

Transfer

Check-in to El Convento Boutique Hotel

Planned

Excluded:

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 2

    

Antigua Guatemala

Day notes

Today, explore Antigua and Guatemalan history in a very unique way - not just with your ears and eyes, but with your taste buds too! This feast for the senses combines the robust flavors of Antigua's street food with the colonial city's colorful traditions, culture, and history. 

Shoes and appetite ready, begin the walking tour along charming cobblestone streets lined with brightly painted Spanish colonial architecture, stopping to learn about the history of some of Antigua's most picturesque sights. Then it's on to some of the comedores (eateries) most loved by locals. Sample delicious, authentic Guatemalan cuisine such as chuchitos (Guatemala-style tamales), pupusas (cheese-filled corn tortillas), rellenitos (plantain dough filled with beans and then fried), and even pig's feet (if you dare!).

After getting a taste for the city, you may choose to enjoy the afternoon at leisure or, for the more adventurous , hike the Pacaya Volcano. 

Transfer (1:20hr) to the foothills of the active Pacaya Volcano. The hike then begins with a fairly strenuous walk through wonderful pine forest up to the trickier molten rock area where hot steam seeps through crevices at the base of the volcano. Learn about the formation and evolution of the volcano, and enjoy great views to the northern volcanoes, the pacific lowlands, and all the way to El Salvador. Stop to enjoy a picnic lunch with the impressive volcano in close sight. Back at the base of the volcano, your support vehicle awaits you for the transfer back to Antigua.

The evening will be at leisure.

Planned

Included:

Breakfast and Lunch

Excluded:

Dinner

Day 3

    

Antigua Guatemala

Day notes

Today, we invite you to engage with the local community in a truly authentic way with an Evolved Experience. The Evolved Traveler believes travel is “evolving” into something more than we have previously experienced or knew it to be. There is a desire for it to be more meaningful, more impactful, more enriching, and certainly more engaging. We understand our guests wish to travel with a purpose and to truly engage with the cultures they visit, and that is why we have created the Evolved Experience.

Evolved Experiences are a core and unique component to all our journeys that provide you, our Evolved Traveler, with experiences that far exceed the par-for-the-course of luxury travel. Evolved Experiences allow our guests the opportunity to make a lasting impression on the communities they visit, extend their hand in a gesture of global community, and create memories that can be cherished for years to come, not only for themselves but for those they visit. 

 

Departing Antigua, travel a short distance to the small town of San Miguel Escobar to meet your local host from De La Gente (DLG).

DLG is a nonprofit organization working to support small independent coffee producers and promote environmentally responsible agriculture in Guatemala. On your special tour today, you will visit some of the families supported by this organization and spend some time working side-by-side with coffee farmers to help pick, pulp, ferment, wash, dry, thresh, sort, and grade the coffee (depending on the season). You will then grind your own coffee on a grindstone before roasting it over an open fire and sampling your own brew! Enjoy a home cooked meal with your new friends before returning to Antigua.

The remainder of your day is at leisure. 

Planned

De La Genta

Included:

Breakfast and Lunch 

Excluded:

Dinner

Day 4

    

Panajachel

Day notes

This morning, transfer to the town of San Juan Comalapa. a town known for its more than 500 painters, primarily of Maya Kaqchiquel heritage. On arrival, see the famous mural, painted by local schoolchildren and adults, depicting major events in Guatemala's history from pre-Colombian era through the signing of the 1996 peace accords. From here, visit local painters who continue the tradition of naïve paintings that the town is famous for. Walk through Comalapa's authentic market for a glimpse into daily life in this region as residents, dressed in the colorful textiles traditional to the region, buy their weekly produce and goods. Finally, visit the small museum dedicated to the Comalapa-born composer who wrote Guatemala's national anthem.

Enjoy a local lunch before heading off to explore the Mayan ruins of Iximiche, a Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site that was the capital of the Late Postclassic, Kaqchikel Maya kingdom from 1470 until its abandonment in 1524. 

After exploring Iximiche, transfer to Lake Atitlan and enjoy some of Guatemala's stunning natural scenery. 

Surrounded by rugged hills, a trio of towering volcanoes, and a handful of small villages, it's easy to be poetic about Lake Atitlán. Located in the Guatemalan highlands, the lake was formed more than 80,000 years ago during a violent volcanic eruption. Tz'utujil and Kaqchiquel Mayas have plied its shores for centuries and continue to do so today, wearing vibrant traditional clothing and practicing age-old Maya customs, particularly in towns like Santiago Atitlán and Santa Catarina Palopó. Panajachel is the lake's main hub. From here, boats depart regularly for destinations like San Juan La Laguna, which is known for its hand-woven, naturally dyed textiles, and San Pedro, where intrepid visitors can summit a 3,020-meter (9,908-foot) volcano. The area also offers great opportunities to kayak, bike, and zipline.

Check-out from El Convento Boutique Hotel

Transfer from El Convento Boutique Hotel to Hotel Atitlan

Details  
Mode

Transfer

Pick up

El Convento Boutique Hotel

Drop off

Hotel Atitlan

Transfer

Check-in to Hotel Atitlan

Included:

Breakfast and Lunch

Excluded:

Dinner

Day 5

    

Panajachel

Day notes

Although more than a dozen fascinating towns and villages overlook majestic Lake Atitlan, Santiago, and San Juan La Laguna top the must-see list. Your time in San Juan provides the opportunity for you to engage with locals practicing traditional crafts and skills. Meet with weavers mixing natural dyes from locally grown plants and flowers and local women using a back-strap loom to create intricate textiles, threaded by colorful thread as they have for generations. Visit the home and workshop of local naïf painters before boarding a boat to Santiago Village for lunch.

After a delicious lunch, walk with your guide to find the house of Maximon, the Maya folk saint who moves annually with the selection of a new caretaker. You may even find a shaman performing a ritual for a loyal follower or two gathered at Maximon's candle-lit altar! 

Afterward, continue to learn about the town's vivid history and explore the thriving market. Be sure to check out more of the distinctive textiles and primitive art, both famous from the lake basin.

Visit the local church to learn about the history of this very traditional town before transferring back to your hotel. The remainder of the evening at leisure.

Planned

Included:

Breakfast and Lunch

Excluded:

Dinner

Day 6

    

Peten Department

Day notes

This morning, take a one-hour drive out to the highland town of Chichicastenango. Along the way, pass through the central highland region and see the local Maya people in their traditional dress going about their daily lives - working in the fields, collecting firewood, traveling between markets, selling their wares. Upon arrival at Chichicastenango, your guide will take you to explore the famous Chichi market.  Wander the stalls filled with local fruit, vegetables, everyday items, as well as the craft area where you can find an endless variety of beautiful textiles, wooden and ceramic crafts.

Visit St. Tomas Church where local Maya people come to perform Maya rituals within the Catholic church - demonstrating the interesting way the two faiths have combined in recent times. Take an easy hike up the hill to the Pascual Abaj ritual site to see if any local shamans are performing rituals and/or to the cemetery on the outskirts of town.

After the hike, you will be driven to Guatemala City for a flight to Flores. Upon arrival, transfer to Lake Peten-Itza and your luxury hotel along the shores of the lake.

Check-out from Hotel Atitlan

Transfer from Hotel Atitlan to La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Details  
Mode

Transfer

Pick up

Hotel Atitlan

Drop off

La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Transfer

Scheduled Flight from La Aurora International Airport [GUA] to Mundo Maya International Airport [FRS]

Details  
Mode

Scheduled Flight

Departure

La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Arrival

Mundo Maya International Airport [FRS]

Scheduled Flight

Transfer from Mundo Maya International Airport [FRS] to La Lancha Hotel

Details  
Mode

Transfer

Pick up

Mundo Maya International Airport [FRS]

Drop off

La Lancha Hotel

Transfer

Check-in to La Lancha Hotel

Included:

Breakfast and Lunch

Excluded:

Dinner

Day 7

    

Peten Department

Day notes

Enjoy a morning at leisure to relax at the lodge. Take in the views of the lake and surrounding rainforest or partake in some of the lodge's activities available to you. 

This evening, head to Yaxhá, the third largest Mesoamerican archaeological site in Guatemala. This guided tour will provide you with insights into the people and customs of this site which, in its heyday, served as the ceremonial center of the pre-Columbian Maya era. Yaxhá, derived from its Mayan meaning for 'blue-green water', is estimated to have extended over 230 sq. km/90 sq. mi, with a population of more than 40,000 at its peak. The site contains many intriguing temples, but Temple 216, located in the East Acropolis, towers above the site with magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. In addition to archaeological wonders, this site boasts two scenic lakes.

At sunset, relax with delicious wine and snacks at the edge of Lake Yaxhá and cruise the blue-green lagoon in a small boat before returning to your hotel.

Included:

Breakfast and Sunset Snacks & Wine 

Excluded:

Lunch and Dinner

Day 8

    

Peten Department

Day notes

Depart La Lancha today for Uaxactun. 

It's one thing to visit Guatemala's stunning ruins, but wait until you spend the night at Uaxactún, one the longest-occupied Mayan cities. After your afternoon arrival at Uaxactún from Flores, drop your belongings in your tent at the campsite near the jungle-shrouded temples.

Savor a traditional lunch prepared with locally sourced ingredients before setting out on a guided tour of the Uaxactún ruins, stopping at partially restored temples that align perfectly with the sun on key dates of the calendar.

In the local village, learn about the natural gum, allspice, and xate (exported globally for floral arrangements) that locals collect.

At dusk, climb a lookout tower for sunset drinks, followed by a delicious, locally made dinner before your overnight in the jungle camp under a star field you will never forget!

Check-out from La Lancha Hotel

Transfer from La Lancha Hotel to Uaxactun Camping Site

Details  
Mode

Transfer

Pick up

La Lancha Hotel

Drop off

Uaxactun Camping Site

Transfer

Check-in to Uaxactun Camping Site

Included:

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 9

    

End of Itinerary

Day notes

Today starts with breakfast and a last look around fascinating Uaxactun. A 45-minute ride through the deep jungle will take you to Tikal National Park, where some 3,000 ancient structures rise from the rainforest floor.

Enter Tikal through the forest, an area most visitors never get to see. Not only will you enjoy a fascinating tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, but you'll also experience the sights and sounds of tropical birds and animals, including howler and spider monkeys. Following in the footsteps of Maya royalty and commoners, visit the majestic Great Plaza and its Temple of the Jaguar (44 metres / 144 feet), Temple of the Masks (38m / 125ft), the Acropolis, and much more.

Enjoy a picnic lunch before  driving to the Flores airport for your return flight to Guatemala City and your onward flight back to the US.

Check-out from Uaxactun Camping Site

Planned

Transfer from Uaxactun Camping Site to Mundo Maya International Airport [FRS]

Details  
Mode

Transfer

Pick up

Uaxactun Camping Site

Drop off

Mundo Maya International Airport [FRS]

Transfer

Scheduled Flight from Mundo Maya International Airport [FRS] to La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Details  
Mode

Scheduled Flight

Departure

Mundo Maya International Airport [FRS]

Arrival

La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Scheduled Flight

Scheduled Flight from La Aurora International Airport [GUA] to Los Angeles International Airport [LAX]

Details  
Mode

Scheduled Flight

Departure

La Aurora International Airport [GUA]

Arrival

Los Angeles International Airport [LAX]

Scheduled Flight

Included:

Breakfast and Lunch

Excluded:

Dinner

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