5. Explore the Heart of the Mayan World - 10 Day Adventure
Day 1 >>> Arrival in Guatemala & world-Famous Antigua
Enjoy two days in Antigua - one of the world’s oldest & most beautiful colonial cities.
Antigua, Guatemalais an exquisite Spanish Colonial town with elegant 16th & 17th Century architecture, cobblestone streets, a tranquil central square, stylish hotels, luxurious shops and superb international cuisine. The town enjoys a unique and impressive setting nestled beneath three towering volcanoes and surrounded by lush evergreen forests.
Day 2 >>> Antigua & Travel to Chichicastenango
Meet for a leisurely and informative Walking Tour of Antigua. The tour will focus on Antigua’s architecture, history, restoration and cultural trends. Your tour will include a visit to the Jade Museum and also the museums at Paseo de los Museos at Casa Santo Domingo.
In the afternoon you will take a private shuttle from Antigua to Chichicastenango.
Day 3 >>> Amazing Chichicastenango
In the morning, you will have time to enjoy the spectacular outdoor market of Chichicastenango – one of the world’s most famous outdoor markets! People watch in this very Mayan village, and also ‘shop until you drop’ or until 1pm when the market closes. Walk through the cemetery and sacred Shaman Hill, Pascal Abaj where you are likely to see Mayan fire cleansing ceremonies.
Day 4 >>> Lake Atitlan– 3 village boat tour of San Marcos, San Juan, and Santiago
This spectacular full day trip will take you from one end of the lake to the other. You will visit the villages of San Marcos, San Juan and Santiago, with time to explore each village. Easy walking is involved and the trip is approximately 5-6 hours.Your Itinerary may vary from the following, but just tell Lee what you are most interested in seeing or doing and he will do his best to accommodate:
Sample Itinerary: The day begins in Santa Cruz where you depart for the west end of the lake. You get to see the villages of El Jaibalito, Tzununa, San Marcos, and San Pablo as you make your way along the north shore. Your first stop isSan Marcos, where you stop for breakfast and optional cliff jumping. Then you will depart the north shore for San Juan, the “Swiss village” of Lake Atitlan. You will spend approximately 2 hours on a guided walking tour and visit art galleries, two woman's weaving cooperatives, a medicinal and curative plant garden, or you can learn about fishing and paddle a traditional cayuka (canoe).
Several famous painters are from San Juan so you will also visit their galleries to see them at work. Women Weavers and Nuestra Artesania includes demonstrations showing how the beautiful fabrics are made; from harvesting the cotton, to spinning it into yarn, dying the yarn, and then creating one of-a-kind fabrics with the back strap loom. The Qomaneel center is a medicinal and curative herb garden operated by the midwives of San Juan. You are guided through the garden and given samples of each plant along with a description of its curative powers.There are no entrance fees at the cooperatives. Your gift purchases or donations are how these centers function.
Your third stop is Santiago. The bay of Santiago is a photographer’s dream. We take a tour along the shore of the bay before we start our walking tour. Your first stop is a visitor center that offers insight into the life of the Tzutujile Maya. There are interpretive displays on the history of the traje (traditional clothing), spiritual beliefs and Maximon. We have lunch before we tour the local church and visit Maximon. The Mayan visit Maximon to ask for healthy crops, to help cure illness, to find love, or to cast a spell on a neighbor. Be sure to buy some candles, cigarettes, or liquor to make your own offering!!!A small fee is required for admittance. The Catholic church was first constructed in 1547, however the original structure has been destroyed several times over. The church has two wooden alter pieces from the original 1500's, as well as other ancient artifacts. This was the sight of many incidents during the 30 year civil conflict, and ultimately lead to the murder of Father Stanley "Alpa" Rother in 1981. We visit Father Rather's personal living quarters, learn about his efforts to help the villagers during the war, and discuss the history of the war.
Day 5 >>> Hiking the Upper Mayan Trail at Lake Atitlan (or driving tour).
Some of your family or group may choose the hike, while the others would meet us at the market.
On this day you will be hiking the Upper Mayan Trail affording you some truly amazing lake views! At the hikes’s conclusion you will spend some time at the colorful market of Solola.
Your hike takes you along ancient paths that have been used by the Kaqchikel Maya for centuries. You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some of the most magnificent scenery in the world. This rugged and remote area has barely been touched by the outside world. The hike takes you 2,500 feet above the waters of Atitlán for breath taking views and pristine scenery.
It is a difficult walk/climb, but is not overly challenging for those in good health. The walk is approximately three hours through magnificent scenery. Enjoy a picnic lunch along the way. You walk through a remote Mayan village high in the mountains where we find the road. There we take a collectivo (shared van/pick-up) the last few miles into Solola. In Solola you visit the second largest market in Guatemala, then return via chicken bus or pick up into Panajachel.
We have the opportunity to observe a Mayan ceremony at the sacred caves of San Jorge. We are able to observe the Fire Cleansing Ceremony on most occasions, but it is not guaranteed.
Day 6 >>> Lake Atitlan– Kayak and Hike Mulit-Sport
Full-day trip begins and ends in Santa Cruz. This full day includes a kayak tour along the rugged north shore, and a hike back thru San Marcos, Tzununa, El Jaibalito and Santa Cruz la Laguna.
Meet at the hotel dock to gear up for a day of adventure. It is best to wear your swimsuit or other appropriate boating atire as you will get wet along the way. We supply dry sacks for your backpacks and other gear for the second part of the day. Be sure to bring your camera, drinking water, and some sunscreen.
We paddle for 1 ½ -2 hours along the shores of Santa Cruz la Laguna, El Jaibalito, and Tzununa, ending in San Marcos. You will have many up close encounters with Mayan men who fish from hand hewn cayukas as they have for centuries. You will feel privileged to share the lake with these proud fishermen who make Lake Atitlan so unique. You paddle along rugged cliff faces filled with exotic plant and bird life. You have the opportunity to soak in the hot springs and cliff- jump into the crystal clear waters, or just enjoy a swim and sun.
We pull into the Bay of San Marcos and gear up for the next part of our adventure. The north shore of Lake Atitlan has no true road access, so you will be hiking along ancient paths that have been used by the Maya for centuries. You will view villagers going about their daily life, encounter farmers tending their maiz and coffee fields, and see some
of the most magnificent scenery in the world. This rugged and remote section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world. Our hike takes us several hundred feet above the ever changing waters of Atitlan for breath taking views of the famous volcanos. We end our hike in Santa Cruz la Laguna at the end of our day of adventure.
Day 7 >>> Guatemala City tour
The capital city has many sights to enjoy, and most visitors miss this opportunity. You can let me show you my favorites, or you can choose from the options described below.
There are several museums that offer the visitor an in site to the Maya. The Popol Vuh Archaeological Museum and the Ixcchle Museum.
Free evening to explore the Zona Viva area. It is safe and has many restaurants to enjoy. I will escort you if you wish, and this may be preferable. I know the area well and am comfortable with its safety.
Overnight Guatemala City
For your Guatemala Hotel (2 nights, Day 7 & Day 9) we recommend that you book directly with one of the many hotels which are near the airport.
Day 8 >>> the world famous mayan ruins of Tikal
4:30 am Shuttle from your Guatemala City Hotel (near the airport) to the TAG Hangar at the GUA airport
5 am Check-in at the TAG (18 calle & Avenida Hincapie zona 13 Hangar 16) (passport required)
6:30am Flight TG 01 with TAG from the TAG Hangar at the GUA Airport to FRS
7:30am Go to the Tikal Inn personnel at the FRS airport. Shuttle from Flores airport to Tikal National Park (park admission included). There may be a wait for the next flight (have breakfast)
9am English tour: Complex Q, North and Central Acropolis, Mundo Perdido Complex & Temple IV.
Lunch at Hotel Tikal Inn (beverages and tips not included)
Visit to museum on your own. Admission not included
Overnight at Tikal Inn (double occupancy)
Day 9 >>> the world famous mayan ruins of Tikal
Breakfast/Free morning (US$20 park admission not included)
2 pm Shuttle fromHotel Tikal Innto Flores airport
3 pm Check-in at the TAG counter (passport required)
5 pm Flight TG 02 with TAG from FRS airport to the TAG Hangar at the GUA airport
6 pm Shuttle from the TAG Hangar at the GUA airport back to your Guatemala City Hotel
Day 10 >>> Departure day
Check out of your Guatemala City Hotel in time to catch your flight home.