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Semana Santa 2020 in Antigua and Lake Atitlán

Semana Santa 2020 in Antigua and Lake Atitlán

$1685 per person
10 days 9 nights | Group size: 1 - 12

Our Semana Santa (Holy Week) tour in Guatemala will immerse you in history, culture and culinary delights as you dine with locals, visit artisans and entrepreneurs, and attend the amazing Holy Week activities.

Considered one of the most colorful celebrations in the New World, processions and vigils are scheduled throughout Lent, but none are as beautiful and magical as those in Antigua, Guatemala, the lovely colonial city just one hour from the capitol.  The processions go through the streets of Antigua, passing over elaborate alfombras made of flower petals, fruits, vegetables and colored sawdust. Be a part of this tradition that has gone on for centuries as we observe respectfully and participate when invited!

Cost & Packages

Services

Included

All transportation within Guatemala including domestic flights, private shuttles, boats, etc.

8 nights of boutique hotel accommodation and one night with a local family on the lake

Entrance fees, tickets and local guide fees for all activities included in the itinerary

9 breakfasts, 8 additional meals (not including alcoholic beverages or tip)

24/7 access to bilingual (native English speaking) Heart of Travel guides

Assistance searching and booking international flights

Spanish language immersion opportunities for those interested

Not Included

International airfare to and from Guatemala City

Tips to local guides

Meals not indicated on the itinerary

Additional tours/activities done individually during free time (we can assist in coordinating these for you)

Dates

 Saturday, April 4 – Monday, April 13, 2020 

Please ask for special family pricing if you are traveling in a group of 3 or more and would like a triple or family room as we may be able to accommodate this request for you to keep the trip more cost effective!

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.

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Tour Plan

1
DAY ONE: SATURDAY, APRIL 4th: D included
Arrive in Guatemala City:

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.

6:00 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.

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DAY TWO: SUNDAY, APRIL 5th: B & L included *PALM SUNDAY*

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.

We will also stop to observe the alfombras de Semana Santa in the streets. Alfombras are elaborate “carpets” or floor decorations made from colored sawdust, pine needles, fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables are placed on the outside of the carpet as an offering to the saints. The alfombras are constructed by la hermandad (“the brotherhood”) of the town's many churches, but during Semana Santa many residents and businesses work together to create an alfombra of their own which can sometimes take up to 24 hours to construct!

12:00 - 1:00 pm: Lunch (included)

Enjoy a delicious traditional meal at this local joint loved by travelers and locals alike. After lunch you can enjoy some free time.

3:00 - 5:00 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 own mask which will fit perfectly in your suitcase or carry on bag!

You will then have the rest of the evening free to relax or explore independently. We are happy to give you a list of recommendations of places to eat, grab a drink or listen to some live music!

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DAY THREE: MONDAY, APRIL 6th: B & L included

8:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)

8:00 am - 12:00 pm: Tour de Pueblos & Brief Visit to Fundación Fénix

Enjoy a tour of some of the most picturesque towns surrounding La Antigua Guatemala. We start at San Juan del Obispo, visiting one of the first Catholic churches to be built in Guatemala and the convent museum right next to it. Much of the original structure of the church and convent still remain after centuries of renovations, and we will be taken on a brief tour by one of the nuns that resides in the convent. Next stop is “El Vino del Abuelo,” a home-based winery where you will get to taste and buy some artisan wine from the region, with their specialty being the loquat wine. Close by we will try another San Juan speciality, artisan chocolate from the region at Brenda’s place, which has been the family’s business for four generations! Depending on time and the group’s interest we have a variety of other artisans and small business owners to stop by and visit with as we take time to get to know life in Guatemala outside of La Antigua’s commercial center, thus learning what drives the economy, society and culture in this region. Lastly, we will make a brief visit to our sister non-profit, Fundación Fénix

1:00 - 4:30 pm Coffee Farm Tour with Don José (lunch included): After a morning exploring the surrounding towns we will be welcomed into the home of our friend Don José. We first met Don José’s through his daughter, Gloria, who participates in a program at our sister non-profit, Fundación Fénix. Her husband, Jose Antonio was a volunteer firefighter who passed away during the rescue efforts during the June 3rd, 2018, eruption of the Fuego Volcano. It’s been an honor to get to know Gloria and her family and we are excited to work with them as a part of our sustainable tourism program.

Join us in our Coffee Farm Tour with Don José! Upon arriving at his home, we will have an authentic Guatemalan meal prepared by Don José’s wife, X. Then it’s time to get even further off the beaten path as we climb into the back of Don Jose’s pick up truck and ride through the farmland of Alotenango to visit his and his friend’s small coffee plots. Here, he will teach us about all the steps involved in making your morning cup of joe including cultivation, harvest, processing and roasting. You will also enjoy spectacular views of the countryside and not only will you see coffee but many other crops such as corn, avocado, beans, jocotes and various trees and medicinal plants. After our time on the farm, we will return to Don José’s home to taste a cup of his delicious coffee before saying goodbye to our friends.

You will then have the rest of the evening free to relax or explore independently. We are happy to give you a list of recommendations of places to eat, grab a drink or listen to some live music!

4
DAY FOUR: TUESDAY, APRIL 7th: 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 am we will arrive in Tecpán for a traditional breakfast typical to the region and can spend some time looking at the artisan crafts. After departing Tecpán, we will continue driving to the country’s famous Lake Atitlán, stopping along the way at the mirador for a photo opportunity.

1:30 pm Arrive to Lake Atitlan: We will arrive to Lake Atitlán and take a short boat ride to the town of San Juan La Laguna. Here in San Juan you’ll visit our friends at Casa Flor Ixcaco, a women’s lead textile cooperative that is truly inspiring and an incredible example of empowered female indigenous entrepreneurs who are using their talents and traditions, on their terms, to bolster their economy and share their heritage proudly.

During your time with Casa Flor you’ll watch and participate in a weaving demonstration to learn all about the process from start to finish. Afterwards you’ll enjoy a delicious typical lunch prepared by some of the cooperative members before visiting the nearby artisan chocolate workshop and the medicinal plant garden.

5:00 pm: Free time and communal dinner (included)

You’ll then get settled into your host families houses and can enjoy some downtime for rest or to explore San Juan independently before a group dinner.

5
DAY FIVE: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8th: B included

8:00 am: Breakfast at homestay (included)

9:00 am: Lake Atitlán Town Tours

After breakfast with our host families we will wave goodbye and return to our boat. We will continue to 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. We’ll give you some recommendations for lunch!

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 guide know what you are interested in doing and we can help arrange it for you! We will also provide recommendations for dinner.

6
DAY SIX: THURSDAY, APRIL 9th: B & L included

9:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)

10:00 am: Head back to La Antigua with lunch (included) and stops along the way!

After a slow morning waking up and enjoying breakfast overlooking the lake, we will meet in the lobby to load up the van and begin making our journey back to La Antigua, but not without a couple of stops along the way.

First, we will visit the town of San Antonío Palapó to learn more about the beautiful handmade pottery this village is known for. From there, we will head towards the main road, once again making a stop in Tecpán for lunch and to visit the Iximche Ruins. Iximche was the capital of the Maya Kingdom from 1470 until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in 1524, where they also established the first capital of Guatemala. Here we will spend a couple of hours exploring and hearing all about this amazing site.

6:00 pm: Arrive at La Antigua

Arrive back to La Antigua for a relaxing evening to catch up on rest! We’ll give you some great dinner recommendations close to your hotel.

7
DAY SEVEN: FRIDAY, APRIL 10th: B & L included *GOOD FRIDAY*

8:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)

9:00 am - 5:00 pm: Pacaya Volcano Hike with picnic lunch (included) and Spa Day

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 1.5 to 2-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 over lava rock. Afterwards, 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 and 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
  • Sunblock
  • Water

7:30 pm: Optional Dinner (not included) and Procession ObservationAfter everyone has had time to shower and freshen up after an active day, we will head out to dinner and to watch the Semana Santa processions as the festivities kick into high gear!

8
DAY EIGHT: SATURDAY, APRIL 11th: B included *HOLY SATURDAY*

8:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)

9:00 am - 4:00 pm: Walking Tour, Semana Santa Celebrations and lunch (included)

With Easter Sunday just one day away, La Antigua is going to be an absolute madhouse. We will leave the schedule for this day fairly open to accommodate the crowds and constant changes that happen throughout the city during this time. Our plan is to mix in some stops at interesting places in La Antigua with stops to take time to observe processions and alfombras and visit pop up outdoor markets. We will have a group lunch at one of our favorite restaurantes, Chermol, which offers a fusion of Guatemalan and Argentine cuisine.

After we finish the structured portion of the day, we encourage everyone to explore on their own, as Semana Santa can be a personal experience for many. For others, the crowds and traffic might get to be too much at some point and you may prefer to relax at the hotel or another tranquil area. We are happy to continue accompanying you during the afternoon if you’d like or to set up any alternative activities you might be interested.

9
DAY NINE SUNDAY, APRIL 12th: B, D included *EASTER SUNDAY*
7:00 am - 10:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)  We’ll have breakfast at the hotel at any hour you’d like between 7:00 am and 10:00 am. 10:00 am - 6:00 pm: Free Day Free day to explore independently and do last minute shopping and packing. We are here to help with anything you might need!  6:00 pm: Pre-Dinner Drinks (optional, not included) Meet for pre-dinner drinks at Whiskey Den.

7:30 pm: Farewell Dinner at Angie Angie (included)

10
DAY TEN MONDAY, APRIL 13th, B included
7:00 - 10:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included) and departure to the airport (included)  We’ll have breakfast at the hotel at any hour you’d like between 7:00 am and 10:00 am.  Then, will provide you with transportation to airport to catch your flight. Please confirm your departure date and time with us so we can coordinate your transportation to the Guatemala City airport. 

11
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. Afterwards 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
  • Sunblock
  • Bathing suit
  • Water bottle
  • Picnic lunch (Provided by Heart of Travel)

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm: Down time 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!

12
DAY TWELVE: Tuesday, September 1st: B included

7:00 - 10:00 am: Breakfast at the hotel (included)

Transportation to 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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