8 Days – Luxury Guatemala
This tour of Guatemala takes visitors to see all the main, most visited highlights of Guatemala as well as some lesser known, cultural experiences for travelers to get a real feel for the people, customs and traditions of this beautiful and culturally rich country. In this example we use luxury boutique hotels but the the whole itinerary can of course be modified to use different hotels and even different day trips.
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Itinerary “At A Glance”
Day 1: Arrival & Transfer to Antigua – Posada del Angel (2 Nights)
Day 2: Fairly Traded Coffee Tour – Free afternoon in Antigua
Day 3: Comalapa Market, Iximche Archaeology Site & Transfer to Lake Atitlan – Casa Palopo (2 Nights)
Day 4: San Juan & Santiago Village Tour
Day 5: Chichicastenango Market & Transfer to Guatemala City Airport – Flight to Flores – Transfer to hotel – Las Lagunas (2 Nights)
Day 6: Free morning in Flores – Yaxha Sunset Tour
Day 7: Tikal Tour (Luxury Picnic Lunch) – Flight to Guatemala City Airport – Transfer to hotel – Westin Camino Real (1 Night)
Day 8: Transfer to Guatemala City Airport in time for International flight out.
Ideas for “Add-Ons”
- Include a 2-3 Night stay in Copan, Honduras – See Video
- Add on a beach stay in Belize of Honduras
- Upgrade with a helicopter transfer between Lake Atitlan and Antigua or Guatemla City for a birds eye view of the Lake and Volcanoes
Founded in the sixteenth century, Antigua is a cosmopolitan destination with a rich colonial past. Its cobblestone streets are lined with pretty, pastel-hued homes, luxe boutique hotels, and an exceptional selection of smart restaurants and shops. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, this city of 35,000 people sits in valley between coffee farms, indigenous villages, and three imposing volcanoes. At the heart of town is the parque central, a European-style plaza busy with shoe-shiners, ice cream vendors, families, and tourists. During its architectural peak, Antigua was home to dozens of colonial monuments, churches, and monasteries, but an earthquake in 1773 damaged or reduced most to rubble. In the centuries thereafter, efforts were made to rebuild and restore, and the city today is filled with melancholy but gorgeous relics and ruins.
Surrounded by rugged hills, a trio of towering volcanoes, and a handful of small villages, it’s easy to wax poetic about Lake Atitlán. Located in the Guatemalan highlands, the lake was formed more than 80,000 years ago during a violent volcanic eruption. Tz’utujil and Kaqchiquel Mayas have plied its shores for centuries and continue to do so today, wearing vibrant traditional clothing and practicing age-old Maya customs, particularly in towns like Santiago Atitlán and Santa Catarina Palopó. Panajachel is the lake’s main hub. From here, boats depart regularly for destinations like San Juan La Laguna, which is known for its hand-woven, naturally dyed textiles, and San Pedro, where intrepid visitors can summit a 3,020-meter (9,908-foot) volcano. The area also offers great opportunities to kayak, bike, and zip-line.
Although it covers nearly one-third of the country, El Petén is Guatemala’s most sparsely populated department. Here, parrots and monkeys far outnumber people, and the crumbling ruins of the ancient Mayas stand in for modern cities. A large tract of El Petén belongs to the Maya Biosphere Reserve, a wildlife haven that stretches from Belize through Guatemala to Mexico. The Tikal archaeological site is the department’s biggest draw, though it’s certainly not the only spot for ruins. Archaeology buffs will also enjoy Yaxhá, Ceibal, Aguateca, and Uaxactún (you can camp at the latter). El Petén’s main towns include Flores and El Remate; both provide easy access to Tikal and the Mundo Maya International Airport. Visitors to El Petén should note that although the department is remote, it does have a handful of top-notch hotels and eco-lodges.
Tours, Sites & Activities
“De La Gente” Fairly Traded Coffee Tour
You will be met by your bilingual host driver for a short transfer to the small town of San Miguel Escobar, just outside of Antigua. In town we will be met by a local guide from De La Gente (DLG). DLG is a charity working to support small independent coffee producers and promotes environmentally responsible agriculture in Guatemala. This tour takes you to visit some of the families supported by this organisation where you can work side-by-side with small coffee farmers in their daily coffee processing, pick, pulp, ferment, wash, dry, trilla, sort, and grade the coffee (depending on the season), roast coffee over an open fire and grind by hand on a grindstone before sampling their handiwork. Coffee Season is Nov to Mar. This tour includes a donation to DLG which the Viaventure Foundation also supports on an annual basis.
Comalapa Market, Iximche Maya Archaeology Site
Guests will be met at their hotel by their private guide & driver for their 1hr transfer to the town of Comalapa. On arrival to the town guests can see the famous painted mural that the school children of the town painted depicting mayor events in Guatemala’s history up to the signing of the peace accords in 1996. From here you will visit some local painters who continue the tradition of naïve paintings that the town is so famous for. Finally guests can visit the wonderful authentic market of Comalapa to see the local people go about their daily life buying produce and goods for the rest of the week still dressed in the traditional textiles of the area. Guests can also visit the small museum dedicated to the composer who wrote Guatemala’s national anthem who came from Comalapa. Guests will enjoy a local lunch before heading off to explore the Mayan ruins of Iximiche. After exploring the site clients will transfer to Lake Atitlan and their hotel.
San Juan & Santiago Village Lake Tour
Guests are picked up from their hotel & transfer to San Juan La Laguna Village where they visit a local textile cooperative to see the back strap loom in use and to see how they still dye with natural dyes. Guests also visit the home and workshop of local naïf painters before boarding the boat onto Santiago Village for lunch. After lunch guests will walk with their guide to find the house where the Maya God Maximon is living. Each year a different “brotherhood” has the privilege of taking care of their God so his location changes. Once with Maximon you may see local shaman performing rituals for local people. After visiting Maximon guests can visit the local church and learn about the history of this very traditional town and also see the market and learn about the distinctive textiles and primitive art that is famous from this area. When guests are ready they will be transferred back to their hotel.
Chichicastenango Market Tour
Guests are met at their hotel by their private driver & guide for the 1hr transfer out to the highland town of Chichicastenango. Along the way guests will pass through the central highland region and see the local Maya people in their traditional dress going about their daily lives – working in the fields, collecting firewood, travelling between markets, selling their wares. Upon arrival at Chichicastenango your guide will take you to explore this famous market both the local areas of the fruit & vegetables & everyday items as well as the craft area where you can find endless variety of beautiful textile, wooden & ceramic crafts. Guests can also visit the famous St Tomas Church where local Maya people come to perform Maya rituals within the Catholic church – demonstrating the interesting way the two faiths have combined in recent times. If guests want to they can also hike up the hill to the Pascual Abaj ritual site to see if any local shaman are performing rituals and/or to the cemetery on the outskirts of town. Lunch is provided. When guests are ready they will be driven to Guatemala City.
Yaxha Maya Archaeology Site – Sunset Tour
Guests are transferred to Yaxha National Park where they can enjoy a private guided tour of this lesser visited, Mayan ceremonial site. Set atop a hill overlooking two scenic lakes this is a particularly picturesque site. Temple 216 in the East Acropolis towers above the site and provides magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. At sunset guests will enjoy sunset snacks and wine at the shore of Lake Yaxha and cruise the lagoon in a small vessel before returning to their hotel.
Tikal Tour with Luxury Picnic Lunch
Guests are met at their hotel by a private guide for a tour of Tikal National Park, where some 3,000 ancient structures rise from the rainforest floor. Not only will guests enjoy a fascinating tour of this impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site, but they will also experience the sights and sounds of tropical birds and animals, including howler and spider monkeys, that live in the jungle canopy. Once home to an estimated at 50,000 residents or more, Tikal flourished from 800 BC to 900 AD. Guests will follow in the footsteps of Maya royalty and commoners as our guide leads them to such sites as the majestic Great Plaza and its Temple of the Jaguar (44 meters / 144 feet), Temple of the Masks (38m / 125ft), the Acropolis and much more. After the tour, a luxury picnic will be included in the park area. Guests can also explore the museum at the visitor centre before returning to their hotel.
Antigua: Posada del Angel – Luxury Boutique Hotel
Posada del Angel was one of the original boutique hotels in Antigua and is still one of the best offering a private ambiance with excellent personal service. The Inn was sold in 2008 and is under new local management who are working hard to improve facilities and service. There are now 6 standard rooms on the main floor and the master (Rose) Suite on the upper terrace. This is still a small and intimate bed and breakfast in the heart of town with excellent service.
Lake Atitlan: Casa Palopo – Luxury Boutique Hotel
Casa Palopo is a unique and exclusive 7 room hotel plus a 2 room private villa located near the village of Santa Catarina Palapo on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Possibly the best luxury hotel in Guatemala this hotel offers stunning decoration with every room and suite different from the next, large common areas both inside and out so that guests can always have their privacy, a top restaurant with international and local cuisine, a beautiful infinity pool looking out to the lake and her surrounding volcanoes and a heli-pad for clients.
Peten: Las Lagunas – Luxury Boutique Hotel
Offering the luxury and comfort of a big city hotel in the middle of a wild jungle, Las Lagunas is located in Guatemala’s northern department of El Petén, not far from the famous Tikal ruins. Sixteen spacious rooms overlook a rich forest and various lagoons. Waterfront suites sit right atop the latter; master suites are perched higher up, seemingly in the trees. Each suite is outfitted with first-rate amenities: Expect a satellite TV, iPod dock, air-conditioning, a private deck with a hot tub, and a bathroom boasting a cascade shower, L’Occitane products, and stellar views. The resort comprises a nature reserve (home to ocelots, deer, tapirs, and wild boars), five lagoons, an archaeological museum, an excellent restaurant serving European-style fare, and an infinity-edge pool. A dock in the center of one of the lagoons is a great place for private massages, yoga sessions, and sunset cocktails.
Guatemala City: Westin Camino Real – Luxury Chain Hotel
Camino Real Guatemala is one of the top business hotels in Guatemala City and is located in the lively and safe Zone 10 area of Guatemala City, close to the airport. The hotel has luxurious common areas decorated in marble including a large restaurant, lounge areas and bar. The hotel also has a large outdoor pool, gym and small adjoining casino (slot machines only). This is a comfortable and spacious hotel in a good central location. Guests can easily explore the nightlife district on the doorstep for a variety of restaurants and bars.
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