Guatemala’s Indigenous and Colonial Cultures
Explore the rich colonial heritage of Antigua, the stunning Maya ruins of Tikal and Yaxha, and immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery and indigenous cultures surrounding Lake Atitlan.
Guatemala’s Indigenous and Colonial Cultures
March 23 – April 1, 2023
In Antigua, we’ll explore Guatemala’s rich cuisine with a sunset dinner tour encompassing three different restaurants, street food (safely!), and the vibrant food market. We’ll also have time to explore a complex of museums and the city’s colonial architecture. In the north, we’ll explore world-famous Maya sites Tikal and Yaxha. Then we’ll go to Panajachel where we’ll take a private boat to our hotel on the lake. During our time on Lake Atitlan we’ll see the shoreline from several boat rides, learn about Maya weaving techniques, the impact of women’s weaving cooperatives on the standard of living of the indigenous Maya people, explore the work of a local NGO, and go shopping in Panajachel. There will also be free time to relax by the lake, go ziplining, birding or volcano hiking, or take a day trip to one of the other indigenous communities in the nearby mountains.
Arrival in Guatemala
Arrive at Guatemala City’s international airport by 1:00 pm to be met by your tour curator. A one-hour van ride will take us to Hotel Casa del Parque in Antigua. After settling in at the hotel and taking a rest by the pool, we’ll take a sunset dinner tour comprising three of the most renowned Guatemalan restaurants that Antigua has to offer. Meals included: dinner. Arrival on the previous day can be accommodated if necessary (at additional expense).
Today, we’ll get the lay of the land. Walking through Antigua’s famous cobblestone streets, amidst colorful buildings and tumbled ruins, we will tempt our taste buds with numerous Guatemalan culinary staples. You’ll eat delicious Guatemalan dishes just like the locals do. While strolling through the city streets learning about Antigua’s famous churches and ruins, you will have the opportunity to eat seven different foods – the portions are generous and we will keep ordering food as long as you keep eating! And we’ll also stroll through the Mercado and discuss the history of flavors and ingredients reflecting Guatemala’s mix of Spanish and Mayan influence. While wandering the market, we’ll have the opportunity to try fruits unique to Guatemala, and you will be able to purchase fruits and vegetables to take back to our hotel. Meals included: breakfast & lunch.
On our second full day in Antigua, we’ll visit the ruined Iglesia y Convento de Santo Domingo. The archaeological zone includes six museums, with rich collections. Admission includes: the Museo de la Platería, with silverwork masterpieces including incense burners, candelabras and crowns; the Museo Colonial, with canvases and wooden sculpture on religious themes from the 16th to 18th centuries; the Museo Arqueológico, with ceramic and stone objects from the Maya Classic period; the cleverly curated Museo de Arte Precolombino y Vidrio Moderno, with Maya sculpture and ceramics shown as art pieces alongside glass works by modern artists; the Museo de Artes y Artesanías Populares de Sacatepéquez, with exhibits on traditional handicrafts from the Antigua region; and the Museo de la Farmacia, a restored version of a 19th-century apothecary’s shop from Guatemala City. Meals included: breakfast.
Transfer to the Peten
We’ll linger a bit this morning in Antigua before returning to the Guatemala City Airport and fly to Flores in northern Guatemala. Then we’ll take an hour-long van ride to our hotel, and transfer by van to arrive in the late afternoon at our hotel, the Jungle Lodge, located next to the Tikal National Park. The origin of the Jungle Lodge is directly related to the creation of the first scientific camp established in Tikal, which housed archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania, for the exploration of the Maya city. Take the remainder of the day to lounge by the pool, explore the game room, or enjoy a glass of wine in the bar. Meals included: breakfast.
Uaxacatún and Yaxha
After a late breakfast, we’ll explore the sites of Uaxacatún and Yaxha. Uaxacatún is the Maya city with the longest occupation in the area, starting point for the investigation of the Maya civilization. Observe Tikal from one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the area and get to know other sites of interest such as the first astronomical complex discovered in the area, Group E and ancient structures such as the Mayan Ball Court, The Temple of the Masks, among others.
Yaxhá was a city of the Classic Maya period. This tour will allow you to know the history and buildings such as the Royal Palace, the North Acropolis, the Astronomical Complex, two courtyards of the Ball Court, the East Acropolis, the Plaza de las Sombras and the Twin Pyramids Complex. We’ll conclude with the climb of Pyramid 216, from where the sunset is expected behind the Yaxhá Lagoon. Meals included: breakfast.
Experience an extended stay in the ancient Maya city of Tikal on this double tour that combines exceptional early morning exploration into the jungle and a spectacular view of the landscape from Temple IV. This visit allows you to appreciate the singing of birds, howler monkeys and other animals in their natural habitat. The schedule is the coolest for walking in the jungle and the least crowded of the day, and if the weather allows it, you can enjoy a spectacular sunrise over temples I, II and III. Then enjoy the Archaeological Tour that includes the visit of several of the main points of the Tikal National Park. A unique and exclusive experience for passionate explorers. Meals included: breakfast.
Transfer to Lake Atitlán
This morning we’re going to Panajachel on the shore of Lake Atitlan. After our flight, we’ll take and a private boat transfer to our hotel by early afternoon. You’ll have the rest of the day to settle in and explore Casa del Mundo, on the shore of Lake Atitlan. FYI, we’ve reserved the hot tub (with lake view) for all four evenings of our stay. Meals included: breakfast.
Today’s Backstrap Weaving Demonstration by the Flor Juanera Cooperative will begin with a boat ride to the Tz’utujil Maya village of San Juan, along the shore of the lake. At the village, we will visit a natural dye and medicinal plant garden, observe a natural dyeing demonstration, help wrap yarn into balls, stretch threads around the warping board to create the design and observe ikat tying and liso backstrap weaving demonstrations. Meals included: breakfast & lunch.
We’ll take the public boat into Panajachel for a cooking class. After we eat what we make, we’ll have time to shop along Panajachel’s main street before returning to the hotel. Meals included: breakfast & lunch.
Leave hotel by 7:30 am, transferring by private boat and van to Guatemala City airport (by 11:00 am). Meals included: breakfast.
Activities are generally not very strenuous; however, we expect guests to enjoy two hours or more of walking, be sure-footed on cobbled surfaces, and walk up and down stairs without assistance. In rural and small-town settings, unpaved roads and pathways will be common with some short sections of rough trail, which we expect that guests can traverse with no more than a companion’s hand to steady them. Historic city centers are frequently more accessible by foot than a vehicle, and sometimes your motorcoach can’t drop you off at the hotel and site entrances. Due to the structure of some buildings, facilities for the disabled may be limited.
GuatemalaIndigenous and Colonial Cultures
- Price per person/double occupancy. Single supplement of $375
- Airport transfers for guests arriving and departing during the suggested times
- Van and boat transfers within Guatemala
- Meals: 8 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner
- Other meals will be on your own individually or as a group
- Tours (including entry fees) as listed
- Minimum travelers: 5
- Maximum travelers: 9
Traveling During CoVID
We are working to make our itineraries as safe as possible: we are only traveling to countries with high vaccination rates and aggressive public health protocols, our lodging partners are augmenting their cleaning and disinfecting protocols; many of our meals will be in open-air settings, a significant portion of our touring time is spent in the outdoors, and the indoor spaces that we will go into are generally large and uncrowded.