Your 2-night feature stay at Hotel Atitlan, an elite establishment on the shore of Lake Atitlan with botanic gardens, a spa and jaw-dropping views of the lake and volcano. Journey into the jungle and uncover the remains of the lost Maya civilisation in Tikal. Immerse yourself in the traditional communities around Lake Atitlan and attend a local artist workshop.
Breathe in the crisp air of the Guatemalan highlands and explore ancient Maya ruins in the northern jungle. From tiny Flores to colonial Antigua, Guatemala is one for the history buffs with once mighty centres now reclaimed by both nature and travellers. Live luxuriously on the shores of Lake Atitlan and navigate the bustle of the highland markets on an eight-day adventure taking in Guatemala’s best.
Breakfast Included: 7 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 1
There’s no time to waste. Touch down in Guatemala City and transfer straight to the small city of Antigua in the Guatemalan central highlands, approximately an hour away. Ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the complimentary transfer can be organised. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua was once the capital of Guatemala and despite a history of destructive earthquakes and the ever-present Pacaya Volcano, the incredible Spanish architecture stands strong. You’ll have a welcome meeting at 6 pm; please look for a note in the lobby or ask the reception where it will take place, and have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. Afterwards, join in for the optional group dinner or head out on your own to find some Guatemalan gastronomical delights.
Leave Antigua at approximately 9 am for Panajachel. You’ll first be transferred in a private vehicle to the highlands’ Solola market (2.5 hours), where colourfully-dressed locals shop for vegetables, fruit, meat, clothing and knick-knacks. There’ll be an informal Spanish lesson on the journey for you to improve your purchasing prowess and your leader will take you on a tour of the market, just be sure to bring your camera and all your senses. From Solola, the vehicle will continue to Panajachel (30-45 minutes) and the Hotel Atitlan, a stunning hotel on the shores of Lake Atitlan. The afternoon is yours: stroll around the lake, take a dip in the pool or submerge yourself in the infinity hot tub and soak up the incredible views.
Communities are scattered around Lake Atitlan and today you’ll take a boat across the water to visit Santiago, the largest of the them. Santiago remains very traditional with many villagers continuing to live a Tz’utujil lifestyle. Take a guided tour of the community and experience a naif painting workshop. Meet local artists Antonio and Angelina Coche and learn from them about your Maya 'Nahual', a local equivalent of the zodiac that assigns animal spirits based on birth date. You might even want to try painting your own symbol before heading back to Panajachel. The actual town of Panajachel is a short drive from the hotel, so this afternoon your leader will take you on a walking tour through town. Pana, as it’s known in Guatemala, is popular with tourists and you’ll have an opportunity to buy handicrafts from locals before returning to the hotel.
Guatemala City / Flores
With checkout at 10 am, the early morning is free to either relax or rent a kayak and take to Lake Atitlan. A private vehicle will transfer the group to Guatemala City (approximately 3.5 hours) for a late lunch at a restaurant and there’ll be some time to explore the city before heading to the airport around 5.30 pm to catch a 7 pm flight to Flores (1 hour), a small town in Guatemala’s northern Peten region. Flores, which was built on an island on Lake Peten Itza, is the gateway to several national parks and important Maya sites including Tikal, which the group will visit tomorrow.
Tikal National Park / Flores
Embrace an early start for a leader-led tour of Tikal. Home to some of the world's most magnificent Maya ruins, Tikal's five major temples rise above the jungle canopy while an array of smaller structures remain hidden in the undergrowth. Explore the highlights of the area, including Temple I, which is perhaps the iconic image of Guatemala. This area is a repository of Maya wisdom, containing insights into traditional medicine, astrology, agronomy and architecture. The jungles thrum with life, with toucans and macaws swooping between trees and monkeys crashing through the canopy. Those interested can climb to the top of the ruins for unsurpassed vistas over the forest. Return to Flores early in the afternoon and enjoy free time to stroll the cobblestone streets, shop for locally-made souvenirs or swim in Lake Peten Itza.
An early 7.30 am flight back to Guatemala City is worth waking up for to maximise time in Antigua (1 hour transfer), Guatemala’s favourite traveller hangout. Your leader will take you on a quick orientation walk around town before check-in, followed by a city tour with a local guide. Tonight is yours to enjoy, so spend the evening in town if you’ve any energy left or opt for a quiet night at the hotel.
There are no activities planned today and the world, or at least Antigua, is your oyster. Perhaps you’ll want to sample Guatemala’s two famous beans, coffee and cocoa, or maybe you’ll peruse the markets or watch the world go by at one of the many cafes and bars. If you fancy something more strenuous, a number of local companies run hiking trips to the active Pacaya Volcano, approximately 1.5 hours out of town. Don’t forget the marshmallows, and rest assured you’ll be back in time to have your final group meal and perhaps even hit the local dance spots for some farewell salsa dancing with your group.
Your trip ends after breakfast and there are no activities planned, but remember to say goodbye.