Fly into Guatemala City where you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Antigua
Today we rise early to visit the famous market of Chichicastenango. This beautiful town, surrounded by valleys and shadowed by mountains, has many shamanistic and ceremonial overtones. Its large market brings villagers from throughout the region, who often arrive the night before and sleep on blankets in the market square. Rising early, they set out their colorful fruits, vegetables and handicrafts. The market disperses in the early afternoon and we travel to the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan, a deep caldera lake flanked by three majestic volcanoes. A passenger boat takes us across the azure-colored water to our charming lodge in the village of Santiago Atitlan.
This morning after admiring the placid waters of the lake, we set out about town on a walking tour. Scholars tell us that the Ancient Maya disappeared mysteriously a thousand years ago, but anyone who has intimately explored this fascinating region knows that the Maya continue to thrive in the highlands of Guatemala. Villagers in Santiago Atitlan still adhere to the traditional lifestyle of the Tz'utuhil Maya and on our walk we'll see many people cloaked in brightly-colored, handwoven clothing. Along Santiago's main street are art galleries filled with oil paintings depicting busy market scenes and typical life in the highlands. We may also visit Maximòn and leave an offering to this curious and revered deity. The rest of the time here is yours free to explore the area with your guide. You can go hiking or horseback riding on nearby trails. Your guide is available to help you plan extra activities.
This morning you will transfer back to Antigua. Volcan Fuego rises to the roof of the world above the streets of Antigua below. Once the capital of Guatemala and all Central America, Antigua resembles a living ruin. Mammoth ruins of churches and palaces tell the story of Antigua's past glory, and restored fascades speak of a bright future for this wonderful city. This afternoon we tour the city and admire Antigua's gilded cathedrals. The afternoon is yours to rent mountain bikes to explore the countryside, visit a coffee finca, or macadamia nut plantation, or just people watch in the main plaza to complete your Guatemala travel experience.
Let the celebrations begin! The spectacular Easter festivals in the former colonial capital are beyond comparison to anything in the northern hemisphere. Along cobblestone streets, intricate carpets of colored sawdust are painstakingly laid down. Later, a solemn procession of Roman centurions march over the carpets, carrying an image of Christ on the cross. Music and swinging incense burners accompany the robed cofradia. During these lively days leading up to Easter Sunday we'll witness elaborate ceremonies re-enacting the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Trips can also be arranged to climb the nearby volcanoes of Pacaya and Acatenango, or you might rent mountain bikes and explore the foothills of the Antigua Valley, go horseback riding, or visit a nearby coffee plantation.
Return home today, or with more time, extend your trip to Tikal!