March 16-23, 2019
ALDEA offers a unique, eye-opening, 8-day/7-night tour of the western highlands of Guatemala, the “Land of Eternal Spring.” Participants visit rural Mayan partner communities and experience Guatemala’s incredible beauty, vibrant culture, colonial splendor, and breathtaking landscape around Antigua and Lake Atitlán.
The tour is full of opportunities to meet local Mayans in their villages and learn of their struggles, sacrifices, and dreams of a better life for themselves and their children. See first- hand the positive changes in these indigenous communities where ALDEA has partnered to create lasting solutions to the persistent problems of poverty and inequality in rural Guatemala. Delve into the history of a people with extraordinary artistic and architectural creativity and sophistication. Witness the impact of colonization and religion on Guatemalan culture.
Participants from various areas and professions travel with ALDEA, forming strong bonds and a shared commitment to reducing chronic malnutrition among rural Mayans.
- Learn about ALDEA’s community development projects with Mayan partner villages.
- Discover daily activities of rural Mayans in their homes, learn their stories first-hand, and meet community leaders.
- Experience Guatemala’s thriving Mayan heritage and amazing legacy.
- Explore colonial Antigua and learn of its rich history.
- Experience one of Antigua’s famous Lenten processions.
- Relax surrounded by the mesmerizing beauty of volcano-ringed Lake Atitlán.
- See the Lake’s rich and fertile hills, fishermen, artists, colorful outfits, and daily activities, and learn about its formation.
- Walk the Mayan ruins of Iximché and witness a Mayan ritual.
- Enjoy delicious Guatemalan food and some of the best coffee in the world.
- Take advantage of shopping opportunities in Antigua, Santiago Atitlán, and San Juan La Laguna.
- Enjoy optional activities, which include climbing an active volcano, touring a coffee plantation, and making chocolate truffles.
- Extensive pre-tour information, trip coordination assistance, welcome packet, souvenir gift.
- Pick-up and shuttle to/from La Aurora Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City.
- Four nights at the Hotel Aurora in Antigua, one night at San Ricardo Farm & Lodge in Tecpán, and two nights at the Posada de Santiago at Lake Atitlán.
- Daily breakfasts plus five lunches and seven dinners (including a special farewell dinner) and a pre-dinner social.
- Air-conditioned, chauffeured coaster bus for in-country trips; water and some snacks included.
- Bilingual guides/available translators, all excursions and entrance fees except March 22 options (many are free).
- All gratuities for meals, chauffeurs, guides, and hotel service.
Price per Person (Land only):
$1,590 double occupancy; $1,800 single occupancy
What’s Not Included:
- Roundtrip air [Please plan to arrive at La Aurora Int’l Airport (GUA) no later than 2:00 PM on Saturday, March 16.]
- Items of a personal nature, g. souvenirs, laundry, extra snacks and drinks.
- Two lunches not mentioned above.
- Entrance or workshop fees for optional Friday, March 22 activities.
- Travel insurance.
- One-half the tour price is due at the time of registration: $795 for double occupancy and $900 for single occupancy. $200 is non-refundable. Space is limited with sign-up on a first-come, first-served The remaining balance is due by January 15, 2019.
- A refund of tour payments made less the non-refundable $200 will be issued for a cancellation made by February 15, 2019, if the vacancy is filled by another participant with equivalent No refunds will be made for cancellations after February 15, 2019, or if the vacancy caused by the cancellation cannot be filled.
Participation Details: Tour is limited to 15 participants; minimum age of 21; moderate difficulty—includes walking on cobblestones, unpaved paths, up/down slopes, uneven surfaces. Participants will be asked to sign a liability waiver and should consider purchasing trip insurance.
Identification/Vaccinations: A current U.S. passport is required. No vaccinations are necessary (good to have up-to-date tetanus shot).
Climate: March weather in the Guatemalan Highlands is sunny, rain is unusual, daytime temperatures in 70s F, nights in the 50s.
Brief Day-by-Day Itinerary:
Saturday, March 16: Arrive at Guatemala City airport (GUA) no later than 2:00 PM. Shuttle to colonial Antigua, check in at Hotel Aurora, tour orientation, and welcome dinner with ALDEA board president.
Sunday, March 17: Antigua walking tour, experience Guatemalan Lenten procession, typical lunch/cooking & weaving demo/product display at local family home in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, discuss Guatemala’s social/political/economic situation with former U.S. Consul General/ALDEA board member.
Monday, March 18: ALDEA update in Chimaltenango by onsite Executive Director, travel to two rural Mayan villages – one village with ALDEA-sponsored environmental and empowerment projects completed and one without projects. Overnight stay at San Ricardo Farm & Lodge in Tecpán – best available local accommodations.
Tuesday, March 19: Guided visit of the pre-Columbian ruins of Iximché en-route to Lake Atitlán, check in at Posada de Santiago. After lunch, join local guide Don Diego Chavez for tour of Santiago Atitlán’s Peace Park, church, and rectory where an American priest was murdered in 1981. Shopping opportunities. Possible “Maximón” encounter.
Wednesday, March 20: AM boat rides—visit a San Pedro La Laguna museum on Mayan culture and the Lake’s geology and history, witness the natural dye process at local weavers’ cooperative in San Juan La Laguna. Free time in afternoon to relax at the Posada (pool, spa, canoe, or massage), shop in Santiago Atitlán, or visit neighboring communities by boat.
Thursday, March 21: AM boat ride to San Antonio Palopó, walk to ceramic studio, optional continuation walk up the hill thru the colorful lakeside village, short boat ride to Panajachel for bus pick-up & return to Antigua. Visit another rural ALDEA village en-route—participate with villagers in typical daily activities. Dinner in Antigua.
Friday, March 22: AM to mid-afternoon time to relax, shop, stroll in fascinating, colonial Antigua. Among many activity options: Coffee plantation or jade factory visit, chocolate truffles workshop, museum(s) visits, Pacaya Volcano hike, handicrafts market, spa visit, massage in your hotel room, more shopping, or just relax in a patio restaurant. Late afternoon guided tour of the historic Casa Santo Domingo monastery, followed by special dinner finale at the hotel’s exquisite restaurant.
Saturday, March 23: Shuttle to Guatemala City airport for flight departures OR plan additional post-tour activity, e.g. famous Chichicastenango market, overnight to Tikal or Copan, Spanish language school, cooking class, or visit more of Antigua.