As we explore the fertile landscape and rich Maya heritage of Guatemala by land and water, we're welcomed into the homes and lives of our native hosts. Towering volcanoes, verdant highland farms, lush cloudforest and bustling markets make a spectacular backdrop for our multisport Guatemala travel adventure.
We bike and hike along paths used for centuries by the Maya, and paddle the azure waters of the volcano-fringed Lake Atitlán. Breaking from our physical endeavors, we're immersed in the culture and traditions of our gracious hosts during a homestay in the highlands. Take some time to explore the colonial city of Antigua before bidding farewell to the natural and cultural treasures of Guatemala. A fantastic Guatemala tour for anyone seeking adventure and discovery!
Day 1 : Arrive Antigua Day 2 : Pacaya Volcano Day 3 : Highland Bike - Totonicapan Homestay Day 4 : Zunil Ridge Day 5 : Cerro Quemado Day 6 : Lake Kayaking and Hike Day 7 : Return to Antigua Day 8 : Return Home
This morning we transfer to Pacaya National Park where we begin our Guatemala travel adventures with a hike ascending the famed Pacaya Volcano. This two and a half hour hike takes us to the top of the volcano. We are likely to feel the ground shake as the volcano rumbles beneath our feet. At the top, we'll look down into the glowing lava of the crater. If the day is clear, enjoy stunning views of the coast and the El Salvador boarder. After our trekking adventure, we'll return to Antigua where you can opt to take a bike ride along the foothills of the volcano.
Today we venture into the spectacular highland region, Alaska. The paths in this area are the same ones used by countless generations of Maya to move about the country. We'll bike past ancient farms, adobe houses, patches of forest and sacred sites still used for Maya offerings. In the distances, volcanoes command the horizon. In the afternoon, it's a wild downhill bike ride past highland farms, pine forest and ridges with wonderful views toward Totonicapan (called Toto by locals). In Toto, we'll meet our K'iche family hosts who are graciously opening their homes to us this evening. We'll have the chance to visit Casa de la Cultura and Don Miguel Hernandez -- workshops of ceramic artists, weavers, mask makers and wood workers. The community is eager to introduce us to all aspects of life here, but you are also welcome to spend all your time with your host family -- learn to weave, help in the garden, or practice some of the Mayan K'iche language.
After breakfast we'll continue of exploration of the highlands. A few hours hiking along the Zunil Ridge, we will start to notice the warming temperatures and increasing bird activity that heralds our entrance of the cloudforest. Keep a look out for the quetzal, a brilliant green bird which was revered by the ancient Maya. Today, it is a symbol or Guatemala. The evening is spent in the K'iche city of Quetzaltenango.
It's back on mountain bikes today as we begin our journey into a valley the locals call 'America's Vegetable Garden.' But first, we'll spend the morning at the vegetable market in Almolonga. It's easy to see why this region is so celebrated for its vegetables as we pedal past neat rows of crops stretching for miles into the distance. Today's riding takes us down through tropical lowlands, crossing rivers, ravines, hanging bridges, dry lava beds and local coffee fincas. This evening we arrive at Lake Atitlán and take a boat ride to our hotel.
This morning we board kayaks for a paddling trip along the shores of Atitlán to the foothills of Cerro de Oro. During our kayaking trip we'll pass Maya fisherman in traditional reed boats setting their nets for the day. As we pass men tilling fields of corn, women doing laundry on the lake shore, and large houses owned by wealthy Guatemaltecos, we'll gain a new perspective on the rural lives and social problems of this beautiful country. Next we hike into the impressive Cerro de Oro hillside rich in Maya history and spectacular views. After our hike, we'll transfer into the village of Santiago Atitlan. Those who are interested in an active afternoon can hike along the lakeshore, taking in the beautiful scenery and watching the local villages as they carry out their daily activities. You might wander through the lively market and try bartering skills with the savvy local vendors. Or you might join indigenous visitors from nearby villages in paying homage to the Maximon, a peculiar smoking and drinking deity. You could also canoe on the lake, learn backstrap weaving, or rent a bike and explore the countryside on your own.
Rise early for a visit to Santa Catarina village and a hike through small fields and farmland until we reach a spectacular lookout over Lake Atitlan. Later, we'll return to Antigua and take our last look at this beautiful city and complete our Guatemala travel adventures before catching our flights home in the morning.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
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.