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Tailor-made tours

Highlands & Markets

Guatemala

13 days

Summary

This tailor-made tour is designed to show you rural Guatemala at its best. Because our Travel Specialists all agree, it is in Guatemala’s highlands and markets where you find the most authentic experiences. From the distinctive dress of local Maya groups to the traditional way of life that has been passed down through generations.

Of course, no trip to Guatemala is complete without a stay in Antigua. This charming colonial town is the perfect place to start your holiday. From there, you’ll veer from the tourist trail and head up into the highlands. Here, you will visit markets where you’ll be the only tourist. And experience a unique cultural exchange with a homestay in tiny Totonicapan. Then explore the little-visited Ixil Triangle, a remote and stunning part of the highlands.

Finally, you’ll join the popular tourist circuit and head to Lake Atitlan. Despite being one of Guatemala’s top attractions, the villages surrounding the lake have retained their charm. You’ll learn about the syncretism of Mayan and Catholic beliefs in Santiago Atitlan. And finally head to Chichicastenango where you definitely won’t be the only tourist!! But which is a fabulous explosion of colour and well worth the visit.

This fascinating trip through Guatemala’s highlands and markets is a must for lovers of remote mountain scenery and authentic cultural encounters.

Highlights

  • Start your trip with a stay in the colonial gem of Antigua.
  • Visit the traditional markets of Quetzaltenango, Comalapa, Almolonga, San Francisco El Alto, Solola and Chichicastenango.
  • Visit Zunil Volcano for a dip in the natural thermal springs.
  • Overnight in a local family homestay.
  • Enjoy the magnificent vistas and lakeside communities of Lake Atitlan.

ITINERARY

Day 1 Guatemala City/Antigua Guatemala

Arrival transfer to Antigua and overnight.

Day 2 Antigua Guatemala

Enjoy a half-day tour of Antigua’s best street food. You’ll get to try local specialities such as pupusas, chuchitos and rellenitos.

Day 3 Antigua Guatemala/Xela

Morning visit to Comalapa Market and then transfer to Quetzaltenango (called Xela for short!).

Day 4 Xela

Morning tour of Almolonga market where you’ll see highland women in traditional local dress. Continue to Zunil, one of the few villages left in Guatemala where people worship the idol Maximon with offerings of cigarettes, alcohol and candles. After lunch, continue along the slopes of Zunil Volcano to natural thermal springs for a dip.

Day 5 Xela/Totonicapan

Depart for the Maya village of Totonicapan, with a visit to picturesque San Andres Xecul en route. Overnight in a local family homestay – a unique and unforgettable cultural experience.

Day 6 Totonicapan/Huehuetenango

Depart for the chilly highland town of San Francisco El Alto, which hosts one of the country’s most authentic markets every Friday. We continue to Huehuetenango and overnight in a rustic mountain lodge.

Day 7 Huehuetenango

Enjoy a scenic drive deep into the mountains of Huehuetenango to visit Todos Santos, a Mam Maya town located 2,500m above sea level. The village’s isolation has helped preserve many traditional customs.

Day 8 Huehuetenango/Nebaj

Transfer to Nebaj, located in a spectacular valley and featuring cobblestone streets, a pretty, whitewashed church, and a backdrop of towering mountains. Overnight in Hacienda Mil Amores.

Day 9 Nebaj

Full-day tour exploring the villages of the Ixil Triangle, an isolated but stunning part of Guatemala that comprises the towns of Nebaj, San Juan Cotzal, and Chajul as well as a handful of outlying hamlets. You’ll visit local churches, plazas, and markets and get a close-up look at local life. Listen out for Ixil, the region’s Maya dialect.

Day 10 Nebaj/Lake Atitlan

Transfer to Lake Atitlan with a visit to Solola Market en route. Overnight on the shores of this stunning lake.

Day 11 Lake Atitlan

Depart by boat across the lake to San Juan la Laguna to visit a women’s textile co-operative and studios of the region’s painters. Continue to Santiago and learn about the indigenous T’zutujil Maya beliefs and spirituality.

Day 12 Lake Atitlan /Antigua Guatemala

Spend the morning exploring Chichicastenango, Guatemala’s most famous market (Wed and Sun only). We’ll also visit San Tomas Church where you can see an eclectic mix of Catholic and Maya rituals. After lunch, transfer to Antigua.

Day 13 Antigua Guatemala

Transfer to the airport in Guatemala City for your onward flight.

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