Participants visit rural Mayan partner communities and experience Guatemala’s incredible beauty, vibrant culture, 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.
$500 deposit is due at the time of registration and the remaining balance ($1,400 per person for double occupancy and $1,700 for single occupancy) is due on November 30, 2023. If a participant cancels by November 30, 2023, they will receive a full refund of the amount paid. No refunds will be made for cancellations after November 30, 2023, unless the vacancy can be filled with a participant of equivalent occupancy.
Participation Details: The activity level for this trip is moderately difficult due to walking up to three miles at a time on cobblestones, uneven surfaces, and up and down slopes; standing for periods of time; getting in and out of boats; and riding on bumpy roads. Tour is limited to 15 participants; all must be a minimum of 21 years of age. Participants are required to sign a liability waiver, to provide proof of COVID vaccination, and to have travel medical insurance coverage.
Travel Documents: A current U.S. passport is required. No visa is required for Guatemala visits of fewer than 90 days.
Climate: March weather in the Guatemalan Highlands is sunny, rain is unusual, daytime temperatures in 70s F, nights in the 50s.
Arrive at Guatemala City airport (GUA). Shuttle to colonial Antigua, check in at Hotel Aurora.
Antigua walking tour 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.
Experience Guatemalan Lenten procession, typical lunch/cooking and weaving demo/product display at local family home in San Antonio Aguas Calientes. Pre-dinner discussion of ALDEA’s history and current program with ALDEA Executive Director.
ALDEA update in Chimaltenango by Executive Director of ABPD (ALDEA's Guatemalan partner organization), travel to two rural Mayan villages – one village with ALDEA-sponsored environmental and empowerment projects completed and one without projects. Overnight stay at rustic Finca San Ricardo in Tecpán – best local accommodations.
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.
Optional early-morning bird watching hike - to spot Quetzals (Guatemalan national bird). Mid-morning boat ride to San Juan La Laguna, witness the natural dye process at local weavers’ cooperative, learn about coffee production by touring a local small plantation, see a demonstration of San Juan's unique painting style by a local artist. Free time in afternoon to relax at Hotel Bambú’s pool, or shop in Santiago Atitlán.
AM boat ride to Panajachel to meet our bus which will take us to visit another rural ALDEA village and participate with villagers in typical daily activities. Return to Antigua in time for dinner.
AM to mid-afternoon time to relax, shop, stroll in fascinating, colonial Antigua. Among many activity options: Visit a 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.
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.
"June and I are very experienced travelers and this trip was one of our best. It is completely different to be a tourist versus truly experiencing a country and getting to know its people, history, and uniqueness. We got to understand how people in Mayan communities live and the transformation in their lives through the help of ALDEA and ABPD. I will never forget the side by side look at villages - before and after stoves, latrines, and clean water systems were installed. Our sensory input was flooded by smoking volcanos, jungles, challenging roads, native crafts, old Spanish churches, and beauty of Antigua and Lake Atitlan, and we shared these experiences with a fantastic group of people. The accommodations were beautiful and very comfortable. June and I are foodies and loved our meals at some very special restaurants and the typical Guatemalan food served during activities. We strongly recommend this tour."
June and Brian Strunk, 2022 Tour Participant