…an enchanting tour of the people, places and culture of Guatemala, perfect for families couples or anyone with an appreciation for art, textiles and traditional culture
Antigua Walking Tour and Rural Coffee Tour
Julio Tours Central America will pick you up at the Airport or your Hotel in Guatemala City. Please look for a welcome sign with your name printed on it. We will begin our tour in a comfortable air conditioned vehicle with a one hour drive to Antigua. This will give you an idea of the land and an opportunity to see some of the customs of the locals as we wind our way through.
We will arrive in the enchanting city of Antigua. Guatemala is the most traditional of all the countries in Central America. It was founded in 1543 and was destroyed by earthquakes in 1773. This charming city is filled with beautiful architecture highly influenced by the Spanish Baroque period as well as colonial churches and well deserving of its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The feeling you get while walking through Antigua is unlike anywhere else. The morning mist, the colors, traditional clothing along with a volcano backdrop, really give you a sense of being somewhere rather magical. The people of Antigua are proud people and you will immediately notice the entrances to their homes. The detail is outstanding and every corner you turn is filled with flowers and a feeling of anticipation of the next photo opportunity.
Although the city is not large there is plenty to see. We will visit Central Park where the locals gather in the evening with their family and friends to take advantage of the night air. We will visit the churches and have time to view the truly incredible intricacy of the architecture. There is also a large market in town with a myriad of souvenirs for young and old.
As always Julio Tours Central America tries to make sure its tours benefit the locals. After lunch we travel just outside of Antigua to a local coffee farm where we will learn about the entire process of coffee making. Coffee grows particularly well in this area due to cooler temperatures and higher elevation. Guatemala is known for having some of the best coffee in the world. You will have your choice of dinner at a local restaurant or at Camino Real Hotel.
Volcano Pacaya Tour
After breakfast we will take a 1.5 hour drive to Pacaya National Park to begin our exciting tour of Volcan Pacaya. This volcano originally erupted approximately 23,000 years ago and continues to be one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala. Some 1,100 years ago the volcanos edifice collapsed. This caused a large landslide which traveled a significant distance, leaving a large crater where the current cone has grown. The presence of a magma chamber beneath the volcano has left it unstable and the possibility of future landslides remains a real threat to the people in the surrounding area.
The hike will take roughly 3 hours and offers us an incredible experience with many photo opportunities along the way. After returning to Antigua you will have the last chance to enjoy the city or relax by the pool at the hotel.
Check Out and Drive to Iximche
Heading north after breakfast we will arrive at the Iximche Ruin. Declared a national monument in 1960, this Pre Columbian Mesoamerican archeological ruin became a meeting place for the Maya leaders and guerillas in 1980 during the Civil War. In 1989 a momentous ceremony took place and the Mayas declared the ruins a sacred place for indigenous ceremonies which still happen today. If you are lucky you may get a peek at one of these ceremonies, however they are private and care must be taken not to intrude on the people. No photos can be taken of the ceremony. In order to get the real history of Iximche we will work with a local Maya guide. Be ready to learn a little of the Mayan language.
After the tour we will drive for about 2 hours before stopping for lunch and continuing onto Lake Atitlan for our next check in at Hotel Atitlan.
CHICHICASTENANGO MAYAN MARKET
After a relaxing breakfast you can get ready for an adventurous day at the market. This Maya market is the 2nd largest in the country and offers you a choice of anything you can imagine. Along with the regular fruits and veggies, you can also buy eggs or a whole chicken to lay them for you. There are also a few silversmith shops with jewelry for the collector. Antique trinkets and coins are also available, but be sure to know what you want so your purchase is authentic and really the age you desire. This market can be very crowded and there is always someone wanting to make a few quetzals. Patience is a must for this market, relax and enjoy the experience, it’s fun and colorful to be sure!
If the market wasn’t colorful enough for you, have a look at the local Maya Cemetery which is easily viewed from the outskirts of the market. Also in the center of the market we will visit the Roman Catholic Church of Santo Tomas. Maya priests still use this church for their rituals and each of the 18 stairs that lead up to the entrance of the church signifies a month in the Maya calendar.
This is an active day for sure so the evening is yours to enjoy when we return to Atitlan.
Today is a day of leisure and we will spend the day relaxing and exploring the charming town of Atitlan. Try out some local food, chat with the vendors and take a stroll down to the lake.
Boat Tour to San Juan, La Laguna and Santiago Atitlan
Today we will travel back in time. The colors, the people, the clothing and traditions will stay in your mind for many years to come. Across the lake of Atitlan are small thriving villages full of very traditional people still using traditional methods handed down through the generations. If you are looking for a special piece of art or perhaps you love textiles, there’s lots to be found in these communities. We will see a demonstration on dying and weaving. The woman spends many hours on these gorgeous textiles and when you purchase one you have a beautiful gift for someone special and more importantly you have supported local entrepreneurship.
Another quick boat ride and over to Santiago Atitlan we go. Now here’s a strange tradition. If you want to worship the famous Maya God Maximon, you must drink and smoke cigars. The people don’t like you to take too many photos but with a quiet nature and offering of a few quetzals you’ll be able to get one or two. You don’t really have to smoke and drink the cigars. Dinner is your choice back at the hotel or in a local restaurant.
Check Out and Drive to Monterrico Beach
Breakfast is at your leisure and then we will begin our drive to the Pacific Coast to check in at Hotel Dos Mundos and enjoy some time at Monterrico Beach.
Mangrove Boat Tour
We will have an early breakfast today before we begin our tour. This natural mangrove is home to birds, crabs, crustaceans, iguanas and crocodiles. Your guide will wind you slowly through the mangrove stopping anywhere you choose for photographs. You will travel 3 to 4 kilometers into the mangrove, depending on water conditions. With the sun on your shoulders, the pelicans overhead, a coffee in hand, you will enjoy the panoramic views of the volcanos. Don’t forget to ask about the Tule grasses growing on the side the shore. The afternoon is yours to enjoy by the pool.
Return to Guatemala City Hotel or Airport
Your Tour Includes
airport transfers to and from, 8 nights hotel, all transportation including ferries, all admission costs for excursions, 8 breakfasts
50 % deposit must be paid in advance in US dollars through Western Union and remaining will be collected during the tour.
Please Note – Although this tour has time limits and restrictions Julio Tours Central America is committed to giving you an experience you will never forget. We are always open to your suggestions and will do our very best to accommodate any special requests you have. This is “your” tour and it is our honor to have you as our guests.
¡Valla con Dios!