Guatemala: Adventure & Cultural Immersion August 2020
Upon touching down in Guatemala City, your Heart of Travel guide will be waiting for you just outside the airport doors ready to escort you to the colonial town of La Antigua Guatemala. But before you arrive to this picturesque little town, complete with cobblestone roads and nestled in a valley surrounded by volcanoes, you’ll buzz through the busy urban streets of Guatemala City.
Once settled into Antigua you’ll be able to enjoy all that the town and surrounding areas have to offer from coffee farms, to artisan chocolate & wine, beautiful old buildings, cheerful marimba music, delicious food, colorful markets, quiet mornings and busting night life. There is no shortage of activities in Antigua, trust us!
The fun doesn’t stop there, during our adventure in Guatemala we will also explore the massive Tikal ruins that loom over the jungle canopy, home to many species of birds, monkeys, jaguars and other critters. After an exciting adventure in the north we will enjoy a peaceful day floating leisurely down the expansive Río Dulce before arriving to the Caribbean.
Finally, our trip will conclude with a visit to the famed Lake Atitlán, where we will spend the night with local families and learn more about cultural customs and tradition in the area along with the artful skill of weaving.
We look forward to sharing this adventure with you!
Itinerary subject to small changes at the discretion of The Heart of Travel guides in order to provide you with the safest, and most comfortable and enjoyable travel experience possible.
Friday, August 21st – Tuesday, September 1st, 2020
DAY ONE: Friday, August 21th: D included
Participants will be flying in from a variety of different places therefore travelers are welcome to choose the flight path that best suits their travel preferences and needs. That being said, we encourage participants to book flights that arrive in Guatemala in the morning or early afternoon so that they have time to get settled before the welcome dinner that evening. If you need assistance booking your international airfare please let us know!
Upon arriving at the airport one of the Program Directors will be waiting to escort you to the beautiful colonial town of La Antigua via private shuttle (45-minute drive). Once in La Antigua, you will be checked into your hotel and be given a brief orientation of the city. If you need any assistance going to the bank, store, pharmacy, etc. one of the Program Directions will be more than happy to accompany you. In the event you arrive early in the morning and would like to coordinate any specific activities during the day just let us know so we can accommodate your requests.7:00 pm: Welcome dinner at Cuscun (included)
Enjoy a traditional Guatemalan meal and learn how to make tortillas during this interactive dining experience at our friend Joaquín’s cooking school just outside of La Antigua. We will dine on the terrace as we meet the guides and fellow travelers and discuss the upcoming activities for our adventure here in Guatemala.
DAY TWO: Saturday, August 22th: B & L included
8:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)
9:00 am - 12:00 pm: Walking Tour
Start your first full day in La Antigua with a walking tour of the city. We will begin with a brisk walk up to Cerro de la Cruz, giving us a stunning panoramic view of the city, surrounding towns, and the three volcanoes that tower over us - Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. From there, we will return to the town center and continue our journey on the cobblestone roads of La Antigua. We will cover a bit of the history of La Antigua, stop in the most iconic plazas and churches and also point out some of our favorite neighborhood haunts for food, drinks, art, and music.
12:30 - 1:30 pm: Lunch at Local Comedor (included)
Enjoy a delicious traditional meal at this local joint loved by travelers and locals alike. After lunch, you can enjoy some free time to rest or explore independently.
4:00 - 6:00 pm: Interactive Artisan Workshop
Get your hands dirty as you make a souvenir to take home with you at the end of your trip. We will meet with a local woodworker to learn about the brightly colored masks seen all over Guatemala and their cultural and historical significance. From there, we will get in touch with our inner child as we make our mask which will fit perfectly in your suitcase or carry on bag!
7:00 pm: We will walk together to dinner (optional, not included) at Chermol, one of our favorite garden restaurants in town that is known for its Guatemalan/Argentine fusion menu and a great selection of craft beers, we highly recommend their empanadas, grilled shrimp and choripan! After dinner, we will take a stroll around Central Park Plaza before heading back to the hotel.
DAY THREE: Sunday, August 23th: B included
7:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)
8:00 am - 12:00 pm: Tour de Pueblos
Enjoy a tour of some of the most picturesque towns surrounding La Antigua Guatemala. Our Tour de Pueblos, focusing on the towns located just south of Antigua, includes visits to San Juan del Obispo, San Pedro las Huertas, Ciudad Vieja, and San Miguel Dueñas. During our time we will meet with artisan chocolate and winemakers, jewelers, learn about the Guatemalan national instrument “la marimba” and visit a “chicken bus” refabrication center.
12:00 - 2:30 pm: Free time to grab lunch (not included) and freshen up before heading to the airport for our domestic flight to Flores.
2:30 pm: Transport to La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City to catch a short 1-hour flight to Flores, Petén. Please be packed and ready to go at 2:30 pm to catch our flight to the town of Flores as we begin our three-day/three-night journey to the eastern side of Guatemala. Our journey will take us to lakes, rivers, and the Caribbean as well as the jungles of Tikal National Park to marvel at the Maya Ruins.
*All transportation, lodging, and entrance fees are included. Lunches and dinners, however, are not included and we encourage bringing cash (U.S. dollars or preferably local currency) as ATMs are harder to find on the eastern side of the country.*
What to bring for 3-night excursion:
- Hiking boots or sport sneakers
- Light rain jacket
- Water jug (water refills will be available)
- Small flashlight (optional but recommended)
- Mosquito repellent
- Binoculars (optional)
- Breathable clothes since it can be hotter and humid on this side of the country
7:00 pm: We will arrive in Flores to relax at our hotel with a beautiful view of the lake! From there we will have dinner and enjoy this lazy island town in the middle of Lago Petén Itzá. We recommend getting a good night’s sleep for an early morning rise to enter the jungle of Tikal.
DAY FOUR: Monday, August 24th: B included
5:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel or breakfast box (included)
6:00 am: Tikal National Park (included)
We will hit the road to make the 1-hour journey to the National Park of Tikal where our guide, Oliverio, a local from Peten with over 20 years of experience, will be waiting for us. Inside the park, we will be able to appreciate all different kinds of wildlife such as spider monkeys, howler monkeys, orange-breasted falcons, woodpeckers, parrots, and much more. We will visit various temples, as well as the Central Acropolis, The Window Palace, and the Lost World.
After exploring the park, there will be an opportunity for ziplining which costs approximately $50 extra.
Noon: Lunch (not included)
After finishing our tour in Tikal National Park, we will head back to the small village of El Remate for lunch and to browse the unique wooden handicrafts. After lunch, our approximate 4-hour long journey to Rio Dulce will begin, where we will be spending the night and leisurely enjoying some downtime.
7:00 pm: Arrive at hotel in Río Dulce
We should be in Río Dulce by 7:00 pm at the latest. We will take a short boat ride to our hotel, where we will be staying in private bungalows along the river. Here we can enjoy the pool and expansive views of the river, as well as delicious dinner and drinks. (Dinner and drinks not included)
DAY FIVE: Tuesday, August 25th: B included
8:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)
Our day begins with a delicious breakfast overlooking the water before boarding our private boat for a day on the river and ultimately onto the Atlantic.
9:00 am - 5:00 pm: Boat tour out to Livingston (included)
We will board our private boat once again to explore Río Dulce and the town of Livingston. Our first stop is Castillo San Felipe, an ancient castle that once served as a fortress to protect the land from pirate invasions. Next, we will continue to the Island of the Birds and then take a dip in the hot springs before the river meets the Caribbean Sea, giving us a view of neighboring Belize. We will then enjoy a late lunch in the small Caribbean town of Livingston. This is the only part of Guatemala that has a more Jamaican feel and where you’ll be able to experience the Garifuna culture. The food here is unique and delicious, loaded with seafood and rich with distinct Caribbean flavors (lunch is not included).
5:00 pm: Return to the hotel in Río Dulce
Arriving back at the docks of our hotel, everyone will have time to relax and enjoy a leisurely evening at the hotel. (Dinner not included)
DAY SIX: Wednesday, August 26th: B included
8:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)
9:00 am: Drive back to La Antigua
We will board our private shuttle in the town of Río Dulce and make our way back to La Antigua. We will stop throughout our journey for bathroom breaks and to eat lunch on the road (not included).
4:00 pm: Arrive in La Antigua
We should arrive in La Antigua no later than 4:00 pm, at which point we will return to our hotel to get settled in. Everyone's free to enjoy the afternoon and evening exploring the city as they please. Feel free to ask for recommendations!
7:00 pm: Optional group dinner with live music (not included)
Meet in the hotel reception at 7:00 pm if you’d like to join the group for dinner with live music at Angie Angie.
DAY SEVEN: Thursday, August 27th: B included
7:00 am - 10:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included) served between 7:00 and 10:00 am.
Free day to explore La Antigua at your leisure. We are more than happy to assist you with anything you might need to get to accompany you for our next day’s local excursion. Just let us know!
For those interested in structured activity on this day, we would be happy to coordinate a coffee farm tour with our dear friend Don José for just $30 a person (including lunch). This tour can be done in the morning from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm or in the afternoon from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.
DAY EIGHT: Friday, August 28th: B, L & D included
8:00 am: Drive to Tecpán for breakfast (included)
We will meet at the hotel entrance to board our private shuttle for a 1-hour drive to the nearby farming town of Tecpán. Around 9:00 or 9:30 am we will arrive in Tecpán for a traditional breakfast typical to the region. Here, we can also spend some time looking at the artisan crafts. After departing Tecpán we will continue driving to the country’s famous Lake Atitlán.
1:30 pm: Arrive at Lake Atitlán for Cultural Immersion Homestay
We will arrive at Lake Atitlán and take a short boat ride to San Juan La Laguna. Here we will spend the day learning about the crafts and traditions of the Tzutujil people. This mellow lakeside town has escaped the commercialization of its neighboring towns. The close-knit community that inhabits this village developed its tourism to showcase their traditions. You’ll see this when we tour their impressive cooperatives to learn about coffee, weaving, textiles, chocolate making and more.
We will then enjoy a homestay with local families and be able to spend time enjoying daily life in this charming town. (Lunch and dinner included with the community).
DAY NINE Saturday, August 29th: B included
8:00 am: Breakfast at homestay (included)
9:00 am: Tour to other towns around the lake (included)
After breakfast with our host families, we will wave goodbye and return to our boat. We will spend the morning and early afternoon stopping at some neighboring towns, including San Pedro La Laguna to check out the art scene and Santiago Atitlán to visit their market, church and Maximón shrine.
Later in the afternoon, we will arrive at our hotel. From here, you can visit the local nature reserve, rent a kayak, explore the nearby town of Panajachel and much more! Just let your tour leader know what you’re interested in doing and we can help arrange it for you!
DAY TEN: Sunday, August 30th: B included
9:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included) and morning to enjoy hotel, lake and nearby areas, including a stop in San Antonio Palapó to visit the pottery shop of our friend Marco Antonio.
2:00 pm: Drive back to La Antigua for a free evening to rest and relax or explore on your own!
5:00 pm: Arrival back to Antigua for a free evening!
DAY ELEVEN: Monday, August 31st: B & D included
9:00 am - 5:30 pm: Pacaya Volcano Hike & Afternoon at Spa
Enjoy a half-day of adventure and soak up the epic views at the top of one of Guatemala’s most popular and active volcanoes! This moderate hike will begin at the base of the volcano in the village of San Vicente Pacaya where you will make your hour and a half to two-hour ascent up the side of one of Guatemala’s three active volcanoes, taking in the beautiful surrounding landscapes along the way. At the top, you will get to peer down at the fiery lava and have the opportunity to toast marshmallows. Afterward, our group will hike down to the trailhead, and take our private shuttle to a thermal spa, whose natural springs are heated by the linked underground activity generated by the very volcano we just climbed. Plus you’ll get a relaxing massage!
If you would prefer not to participate in the volcano hike there are a variety of alternative activities that we are happy to recommend or organize for you, just let us know!
What to bring for the volcano hike:
- Day pack/light backpack
- Hiking boots or sport sneakers
- Light jacket
- Bathing suit
- Water bottle
- Picnic lunch (Provided by Heart of Travel)
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Downtime to shower, relax and get ready for our final night together!
7:30: Farewell dinner in the form of an epic street food tour (included)
Meet in the hotel reception at 7:30 pm to begin our tour as we enjoy some of the Antigua area’s best street food in three of the surrounding towns and celebrate another epic adventure together with Heart of Travel!
DAY TWELVE: Tuesday, September 1st: B included
7:00 - 10:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)
Transportation to the airport (included), please confirm your departure date and time with us so we can coordinate your transportation to the Guatemala City airport.
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