ALDEA offers a unique, eye-opening, 8-day/8-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 improving the lives of 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, traditional weaving, and daily activities.
- 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, San Juan La Laguna, and Panajachel.
- 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.
- Shuttle from Guatemala City airport to Antigua on Friday, March 6 and return shuttle from Antigua to Guatemala City airport on Saturday, March 14.
- Five nights at Hotel Aurora in Antigua, one night at San Ricardo Farm & Lodge in Tecpán, and two nights at Hotel Bambú at Lake Atitlán.
- Daily breakfasts plus six lunches and seven dinners (including a special farewell dinner).
- Air-conditioned, chauffeured coaster bus for in-country trips; water and some snacks.
- Bilingual guides/available translators, all excursions and entrance fees except March 13 options (many are free).
- Gratuities for meals, chauffeurs, local on-site guides, and hotel.
Price per Person (Land only):
$1,690 double occupancy; $1,900 single occupancy
What’s Not Included:
- Roundtrip air.
- Transportation to/from the Guatemala City airport for participants not arriving on Friday, March 6 and/or not departing on Saturday, March 14.
- Items of a personal nature, e.g. souvenirs, laundry, extra snacks and drinks.
- Meals on Friday, March 6 and lunch on Friday, March 13.
- Entrance or workshop fees for optional Friday, March 13 activities.
- Travel medical insurance.
- One-half the tour price is due at the time of registration: $845 per person for double occupancy and $950 for single occupancy. $200 per person is non-refundable. Space is limited with sign-up on a first-come, first-served basis. The remaining balance is due by January 6, 2020.
- A refund of tour payments made less the non-refundable $200 will be issued for a cancellation made by February 6, 2020, if the vacancy is filled by another participant with equivalent occupancy. No refunds will be made for cancellations after February 6, 2020, 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 are required to sign a liability waiver and to have travel medical insurance coverage.
Travel Documents: A current U.S. passport is required. No visa is required for Guatemala visits of less than 90 days.
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:
Friday, March 6: Arrive at Guatemala City airport (GUA). Shuttle to colonial Antigua, check in at Hotel Aurora.
Saturday, March 7: Antigua orientation walk followed by tour orientation. After lunch, explore Antigua on your own. Pre-dinner discussion of Guatemala’s social/political/economic situation with former U.S. Consul General/ALDEA board member.
Sunday, March 8: Experience Guatemalan Lenten procession, typical lunch/cooking & weaving demo/product display at local family home in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Over dinner, discuss ALDEA’s history and current program with former ALDEA board president.
Monday, March 9: 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 10: Guided visit of the pre-Columbian ruins of Iximché en-route to Lake Atitlán, check in at Hotel Bambú. After lunch, join local guide Don Diego Chavez for tour of Santiago Atitlán’s church, and rectory where the first U.S.-born priest to be beatified was murdered in 1981. Shopping opportunities. Possible “Maximón” encounter.
Wednesday, March 11: 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 Hotel Bambú’s pool, shop in Santiago Atitlán, or visit neighboring communities by boat.
Thursday, March 12: AM boat ride to Panajachel for brief visit. Refresh with smoothies, then travel by bus to visit another rural ALDEA village—participate with villagers in typical daily activities. Return to Antigua in time for dinner.
Friday, March 13: AM to mid-afternoon time to relax, shop, stroll in fascinating, colonial Antigua. Among many activity options: Visit a coffee plantation, jade factory, handicrafts market, museum, or spa; participate in chocolate truffles workshop or cooking class, climb Pacaya Volcano, or get a massage in your hotel room. Late afternoon guided tour of the historic Casa Santo Domingo monastery, followed by special dinner finale at the hotel’s exquisite restaurant.
Saturday, March 14: 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.