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Photo credit: Andrew Browning

Guatemala Highlands Explorer

From: $1450
10 days • Level 1 (Details)
    
Guatemala Highlands Explorer
Explore central Guatemala's culturally diverse and naturally abundant highlands on this in-depth 10-day adventure. Actively explore ancient ruins and modern sacred sites with an expert local guide. At colonial Antigua step back into the past and experience Guatemala's natural beauty at Lake Atitlan. Visit the famed Chichicastenango market and explore the caves and crystal-clear pools at Semuc Champey. Each day enjoy hikes with your guide who weaves a tapestry of history covering over 1000 years and illustrate the region's natural diversity. Explore beyond the main streets and trails to witness modern ritual and cultural tradition.

Many guests complement the Guatemala Highlands Explorer with a visit to the ancient Kingdom of Tikal National Park or Copan. Contact the experts at AdventureSmith to learn more about this trip and other Guatemala adventure travel.
read more Explore central Guatemala's culturally diverse and naturally abundant highlands on this in-depth 10-day adventure. Actively explore ancient ruins and modern sacred sites with an expert local guide. At colonial Antigua step back into the past and experience Guatemala's natural beauty at Lake Atitlan. Visit the famed Chichicastenango market and explore the caves and crystal-clear pools at Semuc Champey. Each day enjoy hikes with your guide who weaves a tapestry of history covering over 1000 years and illustrate the region's natural diversity. Explore beyond the main streets and trails to witness modern ritual and cultural tradition.

Many guests complement the Guatemala Highlands Explorer with a visit to the ancient Kingdom of Tikal National Park or Copan. Contact the experts at AdventureSmith to learn more about this trip and other Guatemala adventure travel.
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From the Blog

Expert Review: Guatemala Highlands Explorer

Expert Review: Guatemala Highlands Explorer

The Maya culture, colonial history and natural landscape make the Highlands of Guatemala a truly unique exploration experience. Andrew Browning reviews this adventure.
read more


Day 1 - Arrive Guatemala City

Day 2 - Guatemala City & Coban

Day 3 - Semuch Champey

Day 4 - Coban to Nebaj

Day 5 - Nebaj

Day 6 - Chichicastenango

Day 7 - Lake Atitlan & San Juan La Laguna

Day 8 - Iximche & Xetonox

Day 9 - Antigua

Day 10 - Depart Guatemala City


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Day 1 - Arrive Guatemala City

Upon arrival at the international airport in Guatemala City you are met by our local representative and transferred to a charming hotel from the 1920s in downtown Guatemala City.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Panamerican Hotel
MEALS:
n/a

Day 2 - Guatemala City & Coban

In the morning, visit Guatemala City’s outstanding National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology to gain a better understanding of what is coming during your trip. In the afternoon take a scenic drive to Coban. The road goes through contrasting landscapes, from the Motagua River Valley's cacti to lush tropical cloud forest in Coban, a city where there are still some buildings from Spanish Colonial days. Your hotel will be one such building, located right in downtown.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Casa Duranta Hotel
MEALS:
breakfast and lunch

Day 3 - Semuch Champey

This is the region of the Maya-Kekchi People, and Coban is its larger city. At 4,000 feet above sea level, weather is a little bit warmer than in the “higher” Highlands. Today’s highlight is Semuch Champey Natural Monument. Getting there is half the fun. The road there travels through coffee and cardamom plantations in “karstic” landscapes. Semuc Champey is where the Cahabon River sinks into a cave of about 1 mile long, leaving on top a series of crystal clear pools to swim in - deep enough to even dive! All if this is surrounded by a tropical lush forest. Those with energy may climb up to a lookout for a breathtaking view. The day ends back to Coban.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Casa Duranta Hotel
MEALS:
breakfast and lunch

Day 4 - Coban to Nebaj

Today is a day of landscapes in scenic routes. Still in the outskirts of Coban, visit a traditional coffee plantation and mill as well as an orchid nursery. The road then runs through mountains and valleys, and Maya villages like Uspantan and Cunen. At the Chixoy River Valley, before its name changes to Usumacinta and becomes the border between Guatemala and Mexico, a portion of the road is not paved and the ride gets a bit bumpier. Arrive at the end of the day to the area of another Maya people, the Ixil. Overnight in Nebaj's village of Acul at a dairy farm.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Hacienda San Antonio
MEALS:
breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 5 - Nebaj

Wake up in rural Acul, listening to the roosters and the village's church bell. After breakfast, take a scenic 2-hour mountain hike to Nebaj where the town’s “Culture House” organizes a full day of sharing their way of life. The Maya Ixil People lives in Nebaj, Chajul and Cotzal. These 3 towns were called the “Ixil Triangle” during Guatemala’s Civil War (1961-1996) and they were deeply hurt. Isolated by history and nature, they heartedly welcome visitors. Lunch will be in a local home. If in the afternoon you're up for another hike to a waterfall, it will be included.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Hacienda San Antonio
MEALS:
breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 6 - Chichicastenango

Located 2 hours from Nebaj and enroute to Lake Atitlan, a visit Chichicastenango for one of its market days (Thursdays and Sundays) is a must. It is the largest and most colorful handicrafts market in the Americas, and even though it is an area inhabited by the Maya Kiche, here you will see people and products from all over the country. The Saint Tomas Roman-Catholic Church is a very good example of Guatemala's religious syncretism. It was built on top of a pre-Columbian temple and it is still considered sacred for the Maya that come to the stairway in front to burn incense and pray to their ancient Gods. In the afternoon transfer to Lake Atitlan, arriving by boat to today's final destination: San Juan La Laguna town.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Uxlabil Hotel
MEALS:
breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 7 - Lake Atitlan & San Juan La Laguna

Today is a day dedicated to Lake Atitlan, which is a caldera lake formed by an explosion of a volcano that geologists estimate happened 80,000 years ago. It is almost circular, with a 10-mile diameter, 1,000 feet deep and surrounded by 3 imposing volcanoes. A scenic boat ride to San Juan (its full name is San Juan La Laguna, or San Juan-by-the-lake) will bring you to visit the Maya Tzutuhil People. Your day here actively involves the local “Community Tourism Committee,” whose organization we respect and support. Spend a very active day visiting a natural dyes workshop and learning about the town's organic coffee and handwoven textiles; the Tzutuhil women embroider their tops with colorful birds and flowers. Hike to a nearby lookout with stunning views of the lake.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Uxlabil Hotel
MEALS:
breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 8 - Iximche & Xetonox

Today's drive from Lake Atitlan to Antigua goes through the beautiful landscapes of Maya villages and their plantations of vegetables. Leaving Atitlan behind, the first Maya People is the Cackchiquel. More than half a million Guatemalans are Maya-Cackchiquel, and the first stop is to visit Iximche Archaeological Site, which was the capital of the Cackchiquel Kingdom, built in 1470 and destroyed by the Spanish conquistadores in 1524. It was never lost or forgotten like happened with many sites in the rainforest, and it is still a sacred place for the Cackchiquels. The second stop is at Xetonox, a small village where a local family gladly shows you their way of life, their crops and their weavings. Lunch is served at their home. Visiting the village’s Grade School is a good way to learn more about the local life.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Posada Don Rodrigo Hotel
MEALS:
breakfast and lunch

Day 9 - Antigua

Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the best examples of how was life during the Spanish Colonial days. Built in 1542 and destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, Antigua's name was once Guatemala City and was for over two centuries the capital of Central America, including what is today the State of Chiapas in Mexico and the countries of Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. During that time, it was the third largest city in the Americas, after Lima, Peru, and Mexico City. A guided tour takes you through the city's best palaces, churches, convents, monasteries and plazas, in a picturesque walk down cobbled stones and with sights of the nearby volcanoes. Antigua's perfect spring-like weather all year round, has made this an attractive city of residence for artists and writers, among them Antoine Saint-Exupery, who wrote “The Little Prince,” and Gore Vidal. The afternoon is free to enjoy the city at your own pace, and your guide will advise on how to make good use of it.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
Posada Don Rodrigo Hotel
MEALS:
breakfast and lunch

Day 10 - Depart Guatemala City

This morning a transfer to the Guatemala City International Airport is included. Depart for home or continue your explorations with AdventureSmith.
ACCOMMODATIONS:
n/a
MEALS:
n/a

Itinerary Notes

We may occasionally alter itineraries slightly for safety, or to take advantage of weather, wildlife, and unplanned discoveries. Our ability to be flexible makes our style of travel unique.

Arrival & Departure

The Guatemala Highlands Explorer begins and ends in Guatemala City. Please plan flights to arrive anytime on day 1 and to depart anytime on day 9 of the outlined itinerary from Guatemala International Airport.
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Departs Any Day:
Prices are per person, valid for 2014.

$2250 - Group of 2-3 Travelers

$1750 - Group of 4-5 Travelers

$1450 - Group of 6+ Travelers


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Included

Each itinerary includes all lodging as listed on the itinerary or similar; meals as indicated; all airport/hotel transfers when arriving and departing the stated arrival and departure dates of the trip; all land, air and water transportation within destination; entrance fees to national parks and reserves as specified; and guide services as specified.

Exclusions

International airfare to/from the destination; excess baggage fees; the cost of obtaining passports; visas or tourist cards; airport arrival and departure taxes; meals not specified in the itinerary; alcoholic beverages; personal expenses such as room service; beverages and laundry; personal communication charges; and gratuities to tour escort, guides or drivers.

Room Configuration

Rates are available for single travelers. Single Supplement $350.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $500 is required at the time of booking. A Reservation Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Cancellations are subject to the following fees, based on number of days prior to departure:
Up to 91 days - 50% of deposit
90 to 31 days - 50% of total trip cost
30 to 0 days - 100% of total trip cost

Terms & Conditions

This trip is subject to AdventureSmith Explorations Terms and Conditions. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information is sent upon confirmation.

Travel Insurance

Protect your travel investment with insurance. Our partners at Travelex Insurance offer a variety of plans and policies to fit every trip and budget. You must purchase your travel insurance policy within 21 days of booking your trip for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.
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