Arrive in the Guatemala City Airport and meet your guide for your transfer to Antigua. Upon your arrival, settle into your hotel and explore this charming colonial city on your own in the evening.
Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the hotel before meeting your transfer for a walking tour of Antigua. Once the capital of Guatemala and of all of Central America, Antigua resembles a living ruin. Mammoth churches and palaces tell the story of Antigua's past glory, and restored facades speak of a bright future for this wonderful city. In the morning, take a guided tour of the city and admire Antigua's gilded cathedrals. The afternoon is yours to rent mountain bikes and explore the countryside, visit a coffee finca or macadamia nut plantation, or relax and people-watch in the main plaza. In the evening return to your hotel.
After breakfast, visit Iximche and spend an enriching and leisurely day in the Comalapa Market. Greet the locals and admire their beautiful handicrafts and artwork, occasionally stopping to barter and buy. The market is also a hub for buying and selling mounds of fruits, vegetables, meats, and clothing. The market disperses in the early afternoon, at which point you can travel to the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan, a deep caldera lake which is flanked by three majestic volcanoes.
Board a passenger ferry and ride across the azure-colored waters of Lake Atitlan to the village of San Juan La Laguna. Visit the women's textile cooperative to see hand weaving and the natural dye process used to make their famous petates: woven mats made from lake reeds.
Continue to the village of Santiago, where villagers still adhere to the traditional lifestyle of the Tz'utuhil Maya. Along Santiago's main street are art galleries filled with oil paintings depicting busy market scenes and typical life in the highlands. Scholars claim that the ancient Maya mysteriously disappeared 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. Visit Maximòn and leave an offering to this curious and revered deity.
Wake early in the morning and drive to the Chichicastenango market. This beautiful town, which is 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. Return to colonial Antigua in the evening.
In the morning, set out with your guide and drive to Lanquin and its mysterious cave. The .62-mile limestone cave, Grutas de Lanquin, was declared a national park in 1955, and features many unusual formations. The caves are lit and feature walkways for easy navigation. Wear comfortable, athletic shoes to maneuver your way through the cave. Make your way to the cave entrance at dawn to witness the mass exodus of several thousand bats as they leave on their hunt for dinner. In the evening, settle in to your hotel.
Total driving time: 7 hours.
Travel with your guide to Semuc Champey. A natural monument, Semuc Champey consists of a natural limestone bridge which passes over Cahabon River. Make your way to the top of the bridge and find a series of stepped, turquoise pools. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the clear waters and enjoy an afternoon along their banks. In the evening, transfer to Coban and overnight.
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before meeting your guide for a series of tours. Visit a local coffee farm, Chicoj Cooperative, and learn about the picking, drying, and roasting processes. Try some of the coffee after a cupping demonstration, then zip line over the coffee farm and the lake that supplies it with water. Following your tour, drive to Vivero Verapaz, the largest orchid nursery in Central America. Featuring more than 600 orchid varieties and upwards of 35,000 flowers, Vivero Verapaz is a paradise of a garden. Take a guided walk through the nursery, and marvel at the various orchids. You need a magnifying glass to see the smallest one! Also view and learn about the monja blanca (white nun), Guatemala's national flower. In the late afternoon, transfer to Livingston for your overnight.
Transfer from your hotel for your tour of Rio Dulce, a lake and river system that has become a popular sailboat destination. Rio Dulce is spanned by one of the biggest bridges in Central America. On one side of the bridge, the town of Fronteras, commonly referred to as Rio Dulce, features a local vegetable market that attracts locals from the country. Explore the market and town, Ak'Tenamit, and Bird Island before transferring back to Guatemala City. Overnight.
Total driving time: 3-4 hours.
In the morning, transfer independently or take the hotel shuttle to the airport for your continued journeys.
$355 single supplement
Best to start on Saturdays, Sundays or Wednesdays to match up with market days near Lake Atitlan.