Arrive to Guatemala and transfer to nearby colonial Antigua for the evening.
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 churches and palaces tell the story of Antigua's past glory, and restored facades speak of a bright future. This morning you tour the city and admire Antigua's gilded cathedrals. The afternoon is yours to rent mountain bikes or explore the countryside, visit a coffee finca or macadamia nut plantation, or just people watch in the main plaza.
This morning rise and drive about an hour before arriving to San Juan de Comalapa. Enjoy the bustle of the lively market less visited by tourists. Vendors set out their handicrafts, vegetables, and animals to sell. Explore the market and see the most noted display of art in the town, a collaborative mural painting by local artists on the cemetery wall depicting major events in Guatemala's history. Explore the town and try the bread in one of the local panaderias before you leave. Next you travel to the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan, a deep caldera lake flanked by three majestic volcanoes. Settle into your hotel in lakeside Panajachel and wander the town to explore before dark.
This morning after admiring the placid waters of the lake, we set out on a passenger boat across the azure-blue waters of the lake to local villages along the shores. 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 you'll see many people cloaked in brightly-colored, hand-woven clothing. Along Santiago's main street are art galleries filled with oil paintings depicting busy market scenes and typical life in the highlands. You may also visit Maximòn and leave an offering to this curious and revered deity.
Visit also San Juan la Laguna, home to a number of artisan cooperatives. Here you can 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. Also you can visit the homes of some of their celebrated naif painters. Return to Panajachel at the end of your day.
Today 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 you return to Antigua this evening.
Today the country celebrates Dia de los Muertos, or All Saints Day. Originally celebrated amongst indigenous cultures in Mexico, the holiday has since merged with the Catholic All Saints Day in many Latin American nations to become what it is today. Family and friends use this day to honor and pray for loved ones and remember their memory.
Today you visit the nearby town of Sacatepequez in the highlands which is well known for its brilliant kite displays. Watch as the locals put the last remaining touches on their hand-made kites. Observe the celebrations as you watch locals honor their ancestors with celebrations to remember them this day in the cemetery and in town. Witness the final release of all the kites in the air and see which ones will fly the longest. Awards are often given to noted kites, such as the most colorful and longest flying. Return in the evening to Antigua.
Return to the Guatemala City airport for your international flight home.
$485 single supplement
Antigua Free day to take place on Oct 31st in 2014 itinerary