Three volcanos seen from a mountain in Guatemala.
Yellow and other colorful masks made out of wood in Guatemala.
A yellow cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala
A group of boys in colorful, tradition outfits and hats in Guatemala.
A large colorful tapestry layed out on the ground with people surrounding it in Guatemala.
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Central America Guatemala Land Tour

Guatemala Highlands Explorer

Explore central Guatemala’s culturally diverse and naturally abundant highlands on this in-depth 9-day adventure. Actively explore ancient ruins and modern sacred sites with an expert local guide. 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. Spend nights at upscale, tranquil retreats that offer both sweeping lakefront views and jungle settings; some of them located in historic buildings. 

At colonial Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, step back into the Spanish Colonial past and experience Guatemala’s natural beauty at Lake Atitlan, including a scenic boat ride. Visit the famed Chichicastenango market and explore the caves and crystal-clear pools at Semuc Champey. Spend time at the homes of a local family and a local artisan, learning about their crops, weaving, embroidering, dyeing and ceramic work and way of life, and stop off at a village grade school for a further look into local life. 

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 on for details about this trip, or view all of AdventureSmith’s Guatemala trips.



Itinerary

Guatemala Highlands Explorer Itinerary

Explore central Guatemala’s culturally diverse and naturally abundant highlands on this in-depth 9-day adventure. This adventure begins and ends in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

Route map of Guatemala Highlands Explorer land tour, operating round-trip from Guatemala City with highlights of classic and post-classic Maya civilization in Mesoamerica including Antigua, Iximche & Xetonox, Totonicapan, San Juan, Chichicastenango & Nebaj.
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Day 1
SAT - Guatemala City, Guatemala

Upon arrival at the international airport in Guatemala City be met by a local representative and transferred to the Posada Don Rodrigo Hotel in Antigua, 30 miles Southwest. Depending on the traffic leaving the city this ride may take up to 1 hour. Both Guatemala City and Antigua are located at 5,000 feet above sea level. While driving from one city to the other the road climbs up to 7,000 feet. Overnight in Antigua.

Accommodations

Posada Don Rodrigo, Antigua

Meals

n/a

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Day 2
SUN - Antigua

Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the best examples of life during the Spanish Colonial Days. Built in 1542 and destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, Antigua’s name was Guatemala City and was for over 2 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. The tour routes through the city’s best palaces, churches, convents, monasteries and plazas, in a picturesque walk in cobbled stones, including sights of the nearby volcanoes. Its perfect spring-like weather all year round has made of Antigua an attractive city of residence for artists and writers; among them Antoine de Saint Exupery, who wrote “The Little Prince,” and Gore Vidal. The afternoon is free to enjoy the city at your own pace and the guide will advise on how to make good use of it. Overnight in Antigua.

Accommodations

Posada Don Rodrigo, Antigua

Meals

breakfast, lunch

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Day 3
MON - Iximche & Xetonox

Today transfer from Antigua to Lake Atitlan, going through beautiful landscape of Maya villages and their plantations of vegetables. Maya Peoples in Guatemala account for over two thirds of the country’s population and they are divided into 22 groups, each with its own language and costumes. The first Maya People were the Cackchiquel and today more than half a million Guatemalans are Maya-Cackchiquel. Leaving Antigua behind, the first stop is a visit to 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 it happened with many sites in the rainforest and it is still a sacred place for the Cackchiquels. The second stop is Xetonox, a small village located nearby. Here a local family will be waiting, glad to show their way of life, their crops and their weavings. Lunch will be served at their home. Visiting the village’s Grade School is a good way to learn more about the local life. The day ends with a ride to Lake Atitlan, also at 5,000 feet above sea level. Overnight in Lake Atitlan.

Accommodations

Posada Don Rodrigo, Antigua

Meals

breakfast, lunch

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Day 4
TUE - Totonicapan

Maya Peoples’ lives still move around the market days in the most important towns. Today is the day to learn about the Maya-Kiche People, One Million and a half Guatemalans are Maya-Kiche and with 100,000 inhabitants, Totonicapan is one of their largest towns and so is its market that takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The drive from Lake Atitlan to Totonicapan takes about 1 hour each way and the road reaches 10,000 feet above sea level. The market is very attractive and picturesque not only for its size but also because it has not seen many travelers. The handicrafts for sale are not meant to be for tourists; they are made for the locals because the Maya of today still wear and use handmade garments and utensils. Visiting Totonicapan includes going inside two homes: one will be the home of an artisan that works in clay ceramics and the other will be the home of a weaver that works using large foot pedal looms and at whose home lunch will be served. The day ends by returning to Lake Atitlan for another overnight.

Accommodations

Posada Don Rodrigo, Lake Atitlan

Meals

breakfast, lunch

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Day 5
WED - San Juan

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 10 miles diameter, a depth of 1,000 feet and surroundings of three 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 and the visit will actively involve the local Community Tourism Committee. This is a very active day filled with visiting a natural dyes workshop, organic coffee, hand woven textiles and hiking to a nearby watching point with stunning views of the lake. The Tzutuhil women embroider their tops with colorful birds and flowers and just watching them is an unforgettable pastime. The boat will bring you back to the hotel for the last night in the lake area.

Accommodations

Posada Don Rodrigo, Lake Atitlan

Meals

breakfast, lunch

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Day 6
THU - Chichicastenango

It is a must for most visitors to Guatemala to visit Chichicastenango on one of its market days: Thursdays and Sundays. It is the largest and most colorful handicrafts market in The Americas and even though it is an area inhabited by the Maya Kiche, it still presents 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 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 the area of another Maya People: The Ixil. Overnight in Nebaj´s village of Acul.

Accommodations

Hacienda El Mil Amores or Hacienda San Antonio

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 7
FRI - Nebaj

Wake up in the extraordinary rural area of 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 members will take care of organizing a full day of sharing their way of life. The Maya Ixil People live in Nebaj, Chajul and Cotzal. These three towns were called the Ixil Triangle during the Guatemala’s Civil Way (1961-1996) and they were deeply hurt. Isolated by history and nature, they heartedly welcome visitors. Lunch will be in a home. The afternoon may offer the opportunity for another hike to a waterfall. Return to Acul’s farm for another overnight.

Accommodations

Hacienda El Mil Amores or Hacienda San Antonio

Meals

breakfast, lunch, dinner

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Day 8
SAT - Nebaj to Antigua

Today is filled with landscapes and scenic routes along a road that runs through mountains and valleys. Take a short detour to visit the Gumarkaaj Archaelogical Site, also known as Utatlan, which was the capital of the mighty Maya K’iche People; the Spanish Conquistadores dedicated time to its destruction but it is still alive for the locals. In a little cave by a ravine, Maya Kiche come to pray and worship the way their ancestors did. In the midafternoon, arrive back in Antigua for an overnight.

Accommodations

Posada Don Rodrigo, Antigua

Meals

breakfast, lunch

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Day 9
SUN - Depart Guatemala City, Guatemala

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

breakfast

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Details
Inclusions, Terms & Notes

Included

All lodging as listed on the itinerary or similar; meals as indicated; all airport/hotel transfers when arriving and departing on 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; insurance of any kind; and gratuities to tour escort, guides or drivers.

Payment & Cancellation

In order to confirm this trip, a deposit of $300 is required per person at time of booking. The balance of the trip price is due 90 days before the departure date. Special holiday payment and cancellation terms may apply. Guests who must cancel their trip for any reason must do so in writing. Standard cancellations are subject to the following per-person penalties, 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 Traveler Information Form, which includes a release of liability, must be completed and signed by all travelers. Your Adventure Specialist will send you a unique link to complete this form along with a packing list and extensive pre-departure and travel insurance information upon booking confirmation.

Arrival & Departure

The Guatemala Highlands Explorer adventure begins and ends in Guatemala City, Guatemala (GUA).  We highly recommend arriving one day prior to your trip start date in case of any flight delay, cancellation or lost luggage issues. Plan flights to arrive to Guatemala City any time on day 1 of the itinerary. Plan flights to depart Guatemala City any time on day 9. If you would like assistance with international flights, please visit our Booking Flights resource page.

Activities

Whether you are looking for light activity options or more challenging outdoor pursuits, the guides can tailor most excursions to suit your skill level. Adventure activities may include hiking, cultural and historical visits and birding.

Room Configuration

Single travelers wishing to book a double-occupancy room may do so at a $475 supplement in addition to the per-person listed rate in select rooms upon availability.

Families & Children

Child rate of 25% of the adult fare is available for children 11 years old and under sharing a room with two parents.

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 15 or 21 days of booking (depending on plan) for it to cover pre-existing medical conditions; refer to plan details. Learn more about travel insurance or get a free quote.

Itinerary Notes

Use the itinerary as a guide only. Itineraries may be altered due to weather, wildlife, national park regulation or at the guides’ discretion. The ability to be flexible makes this type of adventure travel unique.

Rates & Dates

Trip Rates & Details

Departures available daily, year-round. Contact us for current rates and availability.

Accommodation

Learn About the Lodge on Your Itinerary

Hotel
Posada Don Rodrigo, Antigua

Hotel Posada Don Rodrigo in La Antigua, Guatemala is an extremely beautiful hotel housed across three ancient houses; one of them, La casa de los Leones, is registered as an historic monument.

Expert Reviews

Reviews from Our Experts So You Know What to Expect

Andrew Browning • May 2nd, 2008
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.

Lis Larson • January 4th, 2016
Expert Review: Guatemala with AdventureSmith

An AdventureSmith expert visits Tikal National Park, Antigua, Chichicastenango, Lake Atitlan and the Highlands region.

Book with the confidence that comes from experience.

100+ combined years of experience, 7 continents explored, decades of expedition cruising around the world & here to help you find & book your dream trip.

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Guatemala Highlands Explorer

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