Heart of Guatemala

Heart of Guatemala

141 Views
6 Days From

$1160

$1072

Heart of Guatemala

6 Days Starting and ending in Antigua

Visiting: Antigua, San Andres Itzapa / Quetzaltenango, Quetzaltenango, Chichicastenango Market / Panajachel, Santiago Atitlan / Antigua

Tour operator:

Intrepid Travel

Tour code:

QBSG

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

1 - 16

Physical rating:

Low, Low

Age range:

15-99 years

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians

Tour operated in:

English
From: $1160 $1072 Operator discount: -$58 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$30

NB: Prices correct on 19-Jul-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

From gorgeous Antigua, take a trip to the Guatemalan Highlands, away from the tourist crowds of Central America and experience authentic modern Mayan culture. With a mix of colonial influences, Catholicism and traditional Mayan practices, this place is a feast for the senses. Experience small, regional markets then hit the likes of Almolonga – famed for its giant vegetables – and Chichicastenango – the country's most popular and colourful market full of homemade wares and medicinal plants. Depart the highlands and head for Lake Atitlan, surrounded by mountainous volcanoes. Take a scenic boat road to the shamans that guard the shrine of Maximon and share in some spirits while they tell you stories of local life and why this culture holds the chain-smoking deity in such high regard.

Highlights

  • Visit San Andres Itazapa and see the shamanic ceremonies devoted to San Simon, a popular chain-smoking saint that has stolen the hearts of the Mayan people.

  • Soak the day away in the volcanic hot springs in Xela, surrounded by lush, green ferns, volcanic landscape and rainforest trails.

  • Take an elaborately decorated chicken bus to a local market and witness the larger-than-life vegetables this region’s known for – decide for yourself whether it’s the result of the fertilizer or the blessings from God.

  • Visit Chichicastenango market – known as Chichi for short – and pick up your very own huipils (a traditional Mayan garment worn by women and girls) or some handmade jade jewellery.

  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, Eden Reforestation Projects. Donations help them provide local employment opportunities and tackle climate change one tree at a time as they restore forests across 10 different countries.

  • Take a scenic boat ride on Lake Atitlan to Santiago Atitlan, with 95% of the population of Mayan descent, and meet the shamanic keepers of Maximon and share a bottle of local spirits with them as they tell you stories of local life.

  • Visit San Andres Itzapa and see the shamanic ceremonies devoted to San Simon, a popular chain-smoking saint that has stolen the hearts of the Mayan people.

Itinerary

Expand All

Day 1: Antigua

Location: Antigua

Accommodation: Hotel

Welcome to Guatemala! Your trip starts in the colonial city of Antigua – surrounded by volcanos, the views from this city are all you need to make the trip. Antigua is known for its Spanish buildings, many restored after the 1773 earthquake that ended Antigua’s status as Guatemala’s capital. Your trip starts with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, followed by an optional group dinner.

Day 2: San Andres Itzapa / Quetzaltenango

Location: San Andres Itzapa / Quetzaltenango

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch

This morning after breakfast, travel to San Andres Itzapa in Chimaltenango. The Guatemalan Highlands are the best place to see the result of Mayan culture and Catholic religion coming together. Witness the unique culture firsthand with a shamanic ceremony at the Temple of San Simon. San Simon, the chain-smoking saint also known as Maximon, is a somewhat morally ambiguous deity. As few Mayan gods survived Spanish colonialism, scholars now think that San Simon is a symbol of numerous lost deities. After leaving your rum or tobacco offering (which can be purchased at the on-site liquor store), you’ll stop for a group lunch, before heading to Las Fuentes Georginas – volcanically heated hot springs in Xela. Surrounded by ferns, these luxurious hot springs are also the entrance to the forest reserve, with trails to the Zunil volcano. When you start to prune, you’ll carry on Quetzaltenango, where you spend the night.

Included Activities:
-Xela - Las Fuentes Georginas Hotsprings
-San Andres Itzapa - San Simon shamanic ceremonies

Day 3: Quetzaltenango

Location: Quetzaltenango

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Early this morning before breakfast, you’ll hop on a chicken bus – a truly local experience, chicken buses are a source of national and personal pride. This popular transport option unique to Guatemala has little to do with actual chickens – they are old American school busses passed down to new owners who decked them out in bright colours and decorations. Each bus is unique to the independent driver, many of whom have made this their sole business. The chicken bus will take you to a local market – Almolonga – famed for its giant vegetables, which some believe were blessed by God. Whether you believe the vegetables are a gift from above or due to the high amounts of fertiliser used by locals, this colourful market is a great place to rub shoulders with the locals and maybe pick up a giant carrot. Afterward, return to your hotel for breakfast.

Included Activities:
-Western Highlands - Almolonga vegetable market
-Quetzaltenango - Chicken Bus Experience

Optional Activities:
-Quetzaltenango - Chocolate Museum
-Quetzaltenango - Mayan Cooking Class

Day 4: Chichicastenango Market / Panajachel

Location: Chichicastenango Market / Panajachel

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

As Guatemala is home to many markets, today’s adventure is a great contrast to yesterday’s Almolonga. After breakfast, you’ll head to Chichicastenango market (nicknamed Chichi), home to textiles, wooden handicrafts and jade jewellery. This is one of the largest outdoor markets in Latin America and Guatemala’s most historic. Surrounded by mountains, you’ll explore the market with an expert local leader who knows all the best spots and walk among thousands of locals and tourists who hit these stalls weekly. Maybe grab some souvenirs or a huipils for yourself – a traditional garment worn by the Indigenous girls and women of the area. You can also pick up some handmade jewellery, pottery, incense, tablecloths, a ceremonial mask used in traditional Mayan dances or some leather goods. Tonight, spend the night in Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan, where you’ll have a free evening for dinner.

Included Activities:
-Chichicastenango market visit

Day 5: Santiago Atitlan / Antigua

Location: Santiago Atitlan / Antigua

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

This morning after breakfast, head for hop on a boat (called a lancha) on Lake Atitlan – surrounded by volcanoes, rolling hills and Mayan villages, this is definitely one of the most beautiful lakes in the world (as said by Aldous Huxley). Take the scenic ride to Santiago Atitlan, taking in the sweeping views from the water. Although this is the largest town on the lake, it sees far fewer tourists, making it the perfect spot to find authentic Guatemalan people, culture and activities. Here, you’ll visit the current shrine of Maximon (San Simon), where the local shamans keep watch. Your group will bring a gift of local spirits to share with the shamans, and while you drink, you’ll discuss the holy shrine, the perplexing deity and local life on the lake. Tonight, take a minibus back to Antigua.

Included Activities:
-Santiago Atitlan - Shamanic Keepers of the Shrine of Maximon
-Lake Atitlan - Boat to Santiago Atitlan

Day 6: Antigua

Location: Antigua

Meals Included: breaksfast

Your trip comes to an end today. If you’d like to stay in Antigua for longer, there are many volcano hikes on offer, just speak to your trip leader before you leave. If you need to book extra accommodation, just speak to your booking agent.

What's Included

  • Accommodation

    As detailed in the itinerary

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

    No

  • Fully Guided

  • Meals

    As detailed in the itinerary

  • Xela - Las Fuentes Georginas Hotsprings

  • San Andres Itzapa - San Simon shamanic ceremonies

  • Western Highlands - Almolonga vegetable market

  • Quetzaltenango - Chicken Bus Experience

  • Chichicastenango market visit

  • Santiago Atitlan - Shamanic Keepers of the Shrine of Maximon

show more

What's Not Included

  • Insurance

  • International Travel

Transport

  • Private vehicle , Shared boat

Accommodation

  • The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.
  • Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.

Important Information

  • 1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1 in Antigua. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
  • 2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights on your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
  • 3. Please be careful when booking flights to and from Antigua; make sure you fly into Guatemala City Airport [GUA]. Guatemala City Airport is the closest airport to Antigua. Please do not book flights to Antigua & Barbuda Airport [ANU] as this is an island in the Caribbean.

Check out our Q&As

  • Is this trip right for you

    The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be really hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours.

    While your leaders on this trip will bridge any language gaps you have along the way, you'll find meeting locals easier the more Spanish words you know. Attempting to communicate in Spanish is a great way of showing you care.

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    Yes, 15 years old or above

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    LOW - Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    As detailed in the itinerary

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    No

  • Are all the relevant entry visa’s included in the price of the tour?

    No

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Please contact us for latest COVID-19 policies

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Intrepid Travel has been taking travellers around the world for over 30 years

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Since 2002, The Intrepid Foundation has supported over 130 organisations across the world. We’re creating positive impact through the joy of travel, community and connection.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Over 50% of traveller travel solo with Intrepid. You can choose to share a room with another solo travelle of the same sex for no additional charge, or choose to pay a single supplement if you’d like your own room. Please request this when booking, and we will secure you a single supplement wherever possible. Please note, if you are booking a last-minute trip, it may be harder for us to secure a single room

Reviews of this operator

Maroochy Dazza (Google Reviewer)  

Just leaving a review to...

24-Aug-2023

Just leaving a review to share how much I enjoyed my Central America trip. I thought the guide, Aura was so knowledgeable and organised and clearly a great ambassador for Intrepid. She gave us lots of information on each region, helped us organise anything we needed and dealt with queries from passengers very well and diplomatically. She made the trip run smoothly. She was also keen to explain the Intrepid vision and how the company values making a difference to locals and is a credit to your company. I did Guatemala and beyond and thoroughly enjoyed it - very fast paced, lots to see and do and a great overview of the region. I would definitely recommend 👍

V Open (Google Reviewer)  

I have just come back...

26-Oct-2022

I have just come back home after doing Intrepid's 10-day Vietnam Express Northbound tour. What a SUPERB tour. We saw lots and did lots, it was jam-packed full of sights and activities. Our tour leader, Tam, was the best ever. Very knowledgeable, organised and lots of fun too. The other 10 people on the group were all lovely. The places we visited were very interesting. We even visited local homes and ate just like the local people do. I highly recommend Intrepid to anyone considering touring a new country. This was my 5th tour with them and they have consistently been fantastic.

Jack Edwards (Google Reviewer)  

I have travelled with Intrepid...

03-Jun-2024

I have travelled with Intrepid a number of times now and can't recommend them enough. The trips are always exciting, full of history and immersive in the culture and environment. The office staff are great too and always happy to help with any questions you might have. Everywhere I have gone with the company has been different but the guides and itinerary have always been excellent and full of knowledge and passion for their country. Add in the social responsibility angle the company has and it top quality ethical practice and you can't go wrong

Jo Clayton (Google Reviewer)  

I recently went on an...

15-Mar-2024

I recently went on an 11 day tour of India with Intrepid and was impressed with every aspect of the tour, the tour leader and the organisation behind the scenes. I always travel alone so it was a big deal to join a tour, I didn't want to feel less independent or ferried about. I loved being part of a group and the things we saw and did on the tour, I would never have known about or seen if I had been by myself. I loved it from start to finish. Yes the overnight trains were not easy to sleep on, but I managed. Meeting locals on board was a high light for me. English is widely spoken in India and its amazing who you strike up a chat with. I had two problems on the tour - one my own fault and one hotel related. The support from Intrepid was amazing. I cannot thank them enough for going the extra mile to support me. I recommend Intrepid 100% and have gone from thinking an organised tour is for people who don't know about Lonely Planet and can't do solo stuff, to realising its a faster, better, more fun way to get to know a country truly and deeply whilst on a bit of a budget. I will book again and again with Intrepid. I loved it that much! Big thanks to tour leader Daddy H. Devender for his help on day one, and Nick in the Oz office for his fab customer care skills. Also the person who staffed the emergency whatsapp in India - you saved my sanity helping me get there a day late! THANK YOU ALL X

Nicole  

North American Adventure

12-Oct-2021

This was my first international solo trip, but I never felt “alone” - there was always someone to go shopping, hike, or grab a quick bite with. The itinerary was a great balance between organized activities, while still allowing free time for exploring. Each location was unique and charming in its own way. Spending the night in the holy city of Moulay Idriss and wandering the winding streets of Chefchaouen were especially memorable. Thank you Mustapha and Intrepid for an incredible adventure!

Alice Norton (Google Reviewer)  

I have just completed a...

29-Feb-2024

I have just completed a 12 day food tour of Vietnam, and had an amazing time. Our tour leader was great, knowledgeable and kind, who helped throughout the trip with recommendations for places on our free days, and spas. All the food we tried was delicious. It is a very fast paced tour, and Bon tried to maximise our experiences for the best.

Henry Guy Robinson   United Kingdom

Cambodia Discovery

22-Jan-2024

The overall experience was fantastic. V good tour leader. All places visited had something special to do or see. I would book a tour with this company again. Only one negative tour hub is not I repeat not available to contact direct by phone.

Merouane Harkat   Uk

Explore Southern Africa

08-Mar-2024

Best trip ever was, 2 things I didn't like the black mamba stop was wasting day and village ,so 2 night I think was just wasting, I could do 2 days in Kruger, and one more night in delta

Ann  

Amazing Guatemala and beyond tour with Intrepid

13-Dec-2022

Did Guatemala and beyond trip in November 22. It was amazing, we were so well looked after by our guide Aura. She was very knowledgeable and during our bus trips she gave us the history of the 4 countries. The border crossings can be tricky but handled very well by our guide. We saw all the most interesting and beautiful places. The hotels were lovely comfortable colonial style. I will travel with intrepid again

Trustpilot
Hazel Rogers (Google Reviewer)  

I have just completed my...

06-Mar-2024

I have just completed my first trip with Intrepid to Southern Africa, and I loved every moment of it! We saw so much wildlife, stayed in some beautiful places, and learnt so much about the countries and people in a very short space of time. Our group leader, Admore, was exceptionally organised, coordinating every detail of our packed itinerary and keeping us informed along the way. The recruitment of a local group leader who can share their knowledge and fix the smallest of issues quickly really sets these trips apart, ensuring you feel safe and looked after at all times. I shall be booking my next trip soon!

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Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Intrepid Travel allows you to make 10 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 56 days before the start of the tour.

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Intrepid Travel allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform intrepid travel, 56 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Intrepid Travel requires a minimum deposit of 400 USD per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 56 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of intrepid travel charges.

    Up to 56 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 55 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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