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Beautiful pier at Lake Peten, Guatemala

Guatemala Explorer

Example 8 Day Tour
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Travel to Guatemala's highlands to learn about present Maya culture, steep-sided temples and other relics of the Maya past. Begin by exploring historic Antigua and staying a few nights along the volcano-rimmed Lake Atitlan's coastline. Discover Chichicastenango's lively market and then the stunning ruins of Tikal. Along the route, the kindness and hospitality of the Guatemalan people will entice you to return repeatedly. This is an excellent introduction to a Guatemala vacation!
Volcano near Lake AtitlanView of Temple II-TikalVolcanoes are easy to spot in GuatemalaUsing the big loom - natural color threadsPolenta grill at Solola marketA woman balances her goods on her headMarket day on Chici tour in GuatemalaLake AtitlanWatching the sun set in FloresMore ruins...Beautiful views hiking by Lake AtitlanSunset at Lake AtitlanOne of many cathedrals in Antigua Santigo de Atitlan- MaximonSan Andres Xecul churchPounding the cotton to make it thinnerFirst weaving co-op we visited Making threadAnother hand  loomBeautiful pier at Lake Peten, Guatemala
  • Take a tour of Antigua and visit mammoth churches and palaces
  • Attend a bustling and lively local market full of handicrafts & vegetables
  • Visit a women's textile cooperative and learn about the weaving process
  • Discover the towering pyramids of Tikal
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Guatemala City Airport | Antigua

Fly into Guatemala City where you are met and transferred to your hotel in Antigua.

Day 2: Antigua | City Tour

Volcan Fuego rises to the roof of the world above the streets of Antigua below. Once the capital of Guatemala and 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. This morning, 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 people-watch in the main plaza.

Day 3: Antigua | Comalapa | Iximche | Panajachel

This morning,rise and drive about an hour before arriving at San Juan de Comalapa. Enjoy the bustle of the lively market that tourists visit less. Vendors set out their handicrafts, vegetables, and animals to sell. Explore the market and see the local painters who continue creating colorful folk art as they have for generations. See the famous mural painted by school children in 1996 depicting Guatemala's recent civil war events. Explore the town and try the bread in local panaderias (bakeries) before you leave.

Next visit the Maya site of Iximché, a pre-columbian Mesoamerican archeological site abandoned in 1524. Walk among several pyramid temples, palaces, and two ballcourts and observe the painted murals on the sides of some complexes. Sculptures and ceramics are also displayed in the small on-site museum. Head next to the shores of beautiful Lake Atitlan, a deep caldera lake flanked by three majestic volcanoes. Settle into your charming hotel along the shores near Panajachel.

Day 4: Lake Atitlan | Villages Tour

Today, board a passenger ferry and ride across the azure-colored waters of Lake Atitlan to the village of San Juan La Laguna. Here, visit the women's textile cooperative to see hand weaving and the natural dye process used to make their famous petates, which are woven mats made from lake reeds. You may also visit the home studios of the celebrated Naïf painters.

Continue to the village of Santiago, where villagers still adhere to the traditional lifestyle of the Tz'utuhil Maya, and on your walk 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. 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. Visit Maximòn and leave an offering to this curious and revered deity. Return to Panajachel this afternoon and enjoy the rest of the day as you wish.

Day 5: Panajachel | Chichicastenango | Flores

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 early afternoon and you drive back to Guatemala City in time for an early evening flight north to the tropical lowlands of the Peten and the home of the ancient Maya. Overnight near Flores.

Day 6: Flores | Free Day

This day is free to enjoy the jungle of the Peten region and the gorgeous views of Lake Peten-Itza. Swim in the hotel's pool, take a kayak out on the lake, or wander into town and explore shops in the quaint Colonial-style buildings that comprise the island town of Flores. Ixpanpajul National Park is nearby, and it has a great trail system and zipline tour. Plan an optional excursion this day, or relax at your hotel.

Day 7: Tikal | Guatemala City

Meet up with your guide and visit the ruins of Tikal for a private tour today. Here, you will encounter towering pyramids rising above the thick jungle canopy and learn how the city thrived as an important religious, scientific, and political center for 1500 years. The pristine forest engulfing the ruined city is home to howler and spider monkeys, white-lipped peccary, brocket deer, coatimundis, toucans, scarlet macaws, parrots, ocelots, and the seldom-seen jaguar. After lunch, the day is yours to explore the ruins until mid-afternoon when you return to Flores for an evening flight back to Guatemala City.

Day 8: Departure

  • 1 Breakfast
Transfer from the Hotel to the Airport or extend your trip


Antigua - Hotels

Panajachel - Hotels

Flores - Hotels

Guatemala City - Hotels

Dates & Prices

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Best to start on Sundays and Wednesdays.
  • 7 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • 5 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Tikal National Park Entrance Fee
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Internal Flight: Guatemala City - Flores - Guatemala City


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.

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The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.
Jack Charney

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