GUATEMALA — THE LAND OF ETERNAL SPRING
Guatemala is a land of stunning contrasts – with smoking volcanoes rising above green and golden highland valleys; mysterious cloud forests shrouded in heavy mists and steamy tropical jungles that conceal the treasures of ancient civilizations. It has been called “ the land of eternal spring” because of the temperate climate its highlands enjoy most of the year.
Fifty percent of its population is of Indian ancestry and still speak the ancient language of Quiche Mam in many villages, although Spanish is the official language. There is a great disparity between rich and poor and in the not so distant past, the military took control of the government by force. Today the nation has a freely elected civil government and increased prosperity that has contributed to the current tourist boom.
Arrival in Guatemala City and transfer to the hotel
Day 2 - Guatemala City and on to Flores
After a sightseeing tour of the capitol city we will fly in the early evening to Flores (Tikal area) in the northern rainforest area of the Peten.
Day 3 - Mayan Sites in Tikal
There are numerous ancient Mayan temple sites and bountiful tropical wildlife. We will visit the world famous site of Tikal one of the principal Mayan sites in Guatemala. Now a National Park with an immense ceremonial center, Tikal was equal to any world capital of its time. There is evidence of continuous construction here from 200 BCE through 900 CE, although most of the structures, we will see date from the late classic period (600-900CE). Tikal is home to many birds and beautiful tropical fauna. After lunch we will transfer deep into the rain forest to visit the beautiful site of Yaxha where we will watch the sunset from the top of the main temple.
Day 4 - Chichicasteango
We fly back to Guatemala City and to Chichicastenango, famous for its large craft market on Sunday and Thursday when craftsmen and villagers from all over the highlands converge on this small town to sell their wares. Many village shamans come from miles around to “Chichi” to perform Mayan rituals for their people.
Day 5 - Lake Atitlan
We travel deeper into the highlands of the Guatemalan countryside to Lake Atitlan. Many have called this lake the most beautiful in the world. It is indeed an amazing setting in which the crystal blue waters of the lake are surrounded by the three lofty peaks of Toliman, San Pedro and Atitlan volcanoes (over 11,000 feet tall). The lake itself rises 5125 feet above sea level.
On the way we stop at the Solola market to explore this wonderful, authentic market. We will go to our hotel where we can rest or explore for the rest of the day.
Overnight Lake Atitlan (B, D)
Day 6 - Day at the Lake – Santiago and St Antonio
We will take a private boat to explore one of the more traditional villages surrounding the lake to experience indigenous customs, traditions, dress and crafts.
Day 7 - Antigua
Antigua is a stunningly beautiful and elegant colonial town of cobblestone streets, tranquil parks, numerous palaces and cathedrals. This morning we will enjoy a guided tour of Antigua to learn about its history and the major architectural monuments.
We will enjoy a full day of touring this beautiful colonial city that was one of the major centers of Spanish power in the Americas 200 hundred years ago. The city is nestled in a peaceful valley surrounded by three magnificent volcanoes. A special visit to a private home will demonstrate the glory of Antigua’s yesteryear, which is being relived today.
Day 8 - Antigua
Guatemala is famous for its amazing variety of folk art, especially the hand woven textiles. Our resident textile expert will take you to museums and markets to learn about the history of Maya textiles & folk art.
Day 9 - A Free Day
For shopping and enjoying the hotel’s facilities and a farewell dinner at the hotel.
Day 10 - Departure