This superb trip takes you to Guatemala's top sites including ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal and Aguateca, Lake Aititlan, Antigua, the coffee highlands and rural markets, including Chichicastenango. Travellers who want a breathtaking holiday, but also wish to give back to the community and experience the local way of life, rather than just tick boxes, will be attracted to tour. It's been created to benefit many local communities and uses hotels that have a lower impact on the environment. The tour has some aspect of responsible tourism included in each day of the itinerary, whether it be a hotel with a proven track record of sustainability, excursions that involve local people and where a high proportion of of the cost of the tour remains in that local area. So you really can explore Guatemala guilt-free!
Hotels that make a difference to local communities
Hotel Panza Verde in Antigua hires over 90% of it's staff locally, offer work placements for students and are a member Fundesa, focusing on the training and developmentof the local workforce. AGAIG is a charity that supports small independent coffee producers.
Hotel Ni'tun buys all its produce from local farmers, owns and manages a substantial area of protected forest and all staff are local to the area.
Hotel Bambu work with the Rainforest Alliance and Alianza Verde on sustainable best practices, all vegetables are purchased from the local community and staff are from the local indigenous T'zutujil Maya community.
Day 1 Arrive at Antigua airport from where you will be transferred to Panza Verde Hotel for two nights.
Day 2 As Green as it Gets (AGAIG) is a charity working to support small independent coffee producers and promote environmentally responsible agriculture in Guatemala. This tour takes you to visit some of the families supported by this organisation and lets you join in as the coffee farmers go about their daily coffee processing, before sampling our own handiwork. The coffee season is November to March. After the tour you have the afternoon to relax and explore Antigua.
Day 3 This morning transfer to Guatemala City Airport, where you take the morning flight to Flores, Petén. Once in Flores, your driver will transfer you to the Aguateca Site. A trip to Aguateca means an exciting full day adventure combining nature and archaeology. You drive for about two hours until you reach the river port town of Sayaxché on the Río Pasión. Here you board a boat for the one hour trip downstream to the ruins of Aguateca, capital of the dynasty founded in AD 645 by a prince from Tikal. It's a fortified Maya city overlooking the river and surrounded by steep escarpments and a sheer sided 200 ft. deep chasm. After a long day of adventure, you travel back to Hotel Ni'tun where you will spend 2 nights.
Day 4 Today you will visit the magical Mayan Ruins of Tikal in Tikal National Park – a 576 Km2 site declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. The site comprises more than 3,000 individual structures, temples and courtyard groups. The metropolis was occupied during the period between 800 BC and 900 AD, but the earliest architecture originates from the 4th century BC. The nobility resided in the Central and North Acropolis, the administrative centre of the city, which is also where some of the rulers were buried. The tallest temple in Tikal is Temple IV, standing at a grand 70 metres (230 Ft.) in height. Lunch is included at a local Inn after which you will have time to explore the museum or return to the site unguided. Overnight at Hotel Ni'tun.
Day 5 Transfer to Flores Airport for flight to Guatemala City where you'll be met by your driver and taken to the famous Comalapa Market for a guided tour. Comalapa is a highland town en route to Lake Atitlan and Panajachel. In the pueblo of San Juan Comalapa, which is surrounded by 20 villages, lies the heart of the Kakchiqel people (one of the many different Maya Indian tribes). On Tuesdays and Fridays, the local people come from their villages with their fruit, vegetables and other produce to the San Juan Comalapa Marketplace to sell their wares and buy the day's needs. Comalapa is well known for its history of indigenous painters and for the famous mural, depicting Guatemala's history, painted by the children of Comalapa on the cemetery wall to celebrate the Peace Treaty of 1996. After touring this fascinating site we can enjoy a traditional lunch in a local restaurant before continuing on to Lake Atitlán and the Hotel Bambu where you will spend 2 nights.
Day 6 This morning you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to San Juan La Laguna village to visit a local textile cooperative. Here you see the back strap loom in use and learn how natural dyes are still used. You also visit the home and workshop of a local naïf painter before boarding a boat to go to Santiago village for lunch. After lunch, you visit the house where the Maya God Maximón is living and a ceremony can be performed if you wish. Then visit a local church and market to learn about the history and tradition of this town. Overnight at Hotel Bambu.
Day 7 Transfer to Chichicastenango which is about a one hour drive through the central highland region where you'll see local Maya people in their traditional dress going about their daily lives. On arrival in Chichicastenango your guide will take you to explore its famous market, both the fruit and vegetable area and the craft area, where you'll find beautiful textiles, wooden and ceramic crafts. You can also visit the famous St. Tomás Church where local Maya people come to perform Maya rituals. For the more energetic, hike up the hill to the Pascual Abaj ritual site to see if any local shamans are performing rituals. After having lunch in Chichicastenango, you will transfer back to Antigua. Overnight at Panza Verde Hotel.
Day 8 Today you will check out of your hotel and transfer to Guatemala City for your onward flight.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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