21 DAYS & 20 NIGHTS.
TRAVEL WITH EXPERT GUIDE ELI in GUATEMALA in 2013.. ENGLISH SPANISH SPEAKING GUIDE DRIVER , English spoken / possible any day with a minimum of 02 persons
Day 1. GUATEMALA CITY (any day of the week)
Arrive in Guatemala (in the morning) from any country; visit Kaminal Juyú (E o B’e: start of any tour, start of journey); Kaminal Juyú is a Mayan archaeological site from the pre-classic period. It is located in Zone 7 of Guatemala City.
Overnight: Plan A: Hotel Camino Real **** / Plan B: Posada Belén *** in the historical center of Hotel Princess /Plan C: Posada Los Volcanes*
Day 2. GUATEMALA CITY – ANTIGUA GUATEMALA
Leave Guatemala City and travel to Old Mixco (No’j symbolizes the movement of the earth and the sky, cave or cavern) with a Mayan spiritual leader. After this visit head to Antigua, the colonial city at the foot of the volcano Agua. The volcanoes are sacred and represent the breasts of Mother Earth, the lava is her milk. They are living beings and can be used to establish communication with the spirits and with the ancestors. The Old Mixco site is located 60 kilometers from the capital. The site contains pyramids, observatories and stadiums used for the ancient ball game. It is surrounded by vegetation.
Overnight in Antigua
Plan A : Hotel Camino Real Antigua / Plan B : Hotel Las Farolas / Plan C : Posada La Merced
Day 3. AGUA VOLCANO
Leave Antigua and travel to Santa Maria de Jesus, a village located at the bottom of the volcano Agua. Both women and men maintain their traditions, especially the women who still wear beautiful traditional clothes. Climb volcano Agua to an altitude of 3,766 meters above sea level with a traditional lunch prepared by the community. The volcano is known by the Kaqchikel people as Jun Ajpu, one of the divine twins and first semi-god described in the Pop Wuj. Intermediate level of difficulty. Lunch is prepared by indigenous women and peasants of the region.
Overnight in Antigua (second night)
Day 4. ANTIGUA GUATEMALA – TECPAN
Visit San Andres Itzapa, San Juan Comalapa and Tecpan Guatemala. Visit the mystical population of Kaqchikel people known as Ruyal Chay or Rio de los Chayes. San Simon – also known as Ma Ximon – is worshipped in this village, a character linked to an ancient ancestral tradition related with the wayeb (the last five days of the solar calendar of the Mayans). Next we head to San Juan Comalapa, whose original name is Chi Xot which means “place of the comal”, due to the abundance of comales (a comal is a special earthenware dish used for preparing tortillas). Accompanied by a local guide visit the village and watch a weaving demonstration, visit galleries of art and see examples of local artisans. Lunch in the Gallery-Café Gabriel is included.
Overnight: Plan A & B & C : finca (farm) San Ricardo in TECPAN
Day 5. TECPAN – CHICHICASTENANGO.
(Must be a Wednesday or Saturday). After breakfast visit the ancient Mayan city Ixim Che, “tree of corn” associated with Kej, another symbol of the lunar calendar tzolkin that means four paths or four points. Celebrate with a Mayan spiritual leader a ceremony for power, justice, stability and harmony. Next travel to Chichicastenango and check in to the Hotel Chuguila. In the afternoon visit all the important sites in Chichicastenango such as the Museum Rossbach, the church of Santo Tomás, the sacred site Cerro Pascual ab’aj o Turcaj (its traditional name is Chwa B’atz). Also visit the museum of masks. Iximche, a civic-ceremonial center constructed around 1470, was the last capital of the Mayan-Kachiquel people and was converted in 1524 in to the first capital of the Spaniards in Guatemalan territory. The 18 steps of the church in Chichicastenango represent the 18 months of the Mayan calendar. The sacred book of the Quiches, the Pop Wuj (book of events), was discovered in the convent. This book is recommended reading before traveling to Guatemala.
Overnight: Plan A: Hotel Santo Tomas **** / Plan B: Hotel Chigüila.** / Plan C: Chalet Hotel*
Day 6. CHICHICASTENANGO – LAKE ATITLAN (PANAJACHEL)
(Thursday or Sunday): visit the market at Chichicastenango and walk to a small community Pajuliboy to experience the magnificent nature, including a waterfall. After lunch head to Lake Atitlan.
Overnight: Plan A: Hotel Atitlán****/ Plan B: Hotel cacique Inn***/ Plan C: Posada Los Volcanes.
Day 7. LAKE ATITLAN
A bilingual, professional guide will escort us to the municipal pier in Panajachel to travel to Santiago Atitlan, a village of the Tz’utujil people inhabited since 1250. Visit the village and Chuitinamit, a small pre-Colombian archaeological park where there are pyramids and plazas – silent witnesses of the occupation of the ancient Mayans. Next continue in boat to San Juan La Laguna to enjoy lunch prepared by the community. The rest of the day will be spent visiting the associations of women that indirectly are dedicated to tourism, a garden of medicinal plants, weaving shops, natural dye plants and painting workshops. Return to the hotel in Panajachel. (second night)
Day 8. SAN PEDRO VOLCANO
Hike with a local guide to the foot of the volcano San Pedro in San Pedro La Laguna, and hike up the volcano. The climb takes about 5 hours return. Intermediate level of difficulty. Return to the hotel in Panajachel ( third night)
Day 9. LAKE ATITLAN (PANAJACHEL) – QUETZALTENANGO
From Panajachel head towards Quetzaltenango, the second-largest city in Guatemala, better known as Xelaju (pronounced “shay-la-who”), the cradle of culture, the city of summits. On the way visit San Andres Xecul with its fantastically-colored church and Salcaja, home to the first church constructed in all of Central America. In the afternoon a cultural-historical guide will explain the history of Quetzaltenango, its architecture, monuments, role as the capital of the sixth-state and its chocolate.
Overnight: Plan A: Hotel Casa Mañen./ Plan B: Hotel Modelo./ Plan C: Hotel Flora Inn
Day 10. QUETZALTENANGO – HUEHUETENANGO
Visit the Ixmucané library that gets its name from the grandmother who created the men of corn and is associated with health and sickness, and the Ixkik Museum of Mayan Clothing. Ix represents all that is feminine and kik represents life, the essence of the Mayan people, blood. This museum is an initiative of local women dedicated to renewing the value of the work of the weavers and the symbolic content of the Mayan Cosmovision in the clothing. Information will be given about the weavings, and then there will be a guided tour of the museum with detailed explanations about each of the traditional garments exhibited and finally there will be a traditional lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch travel to Huehuetenango where this community experience rich in humanity, spirituality and culture will finish.
Overnight: Plan A: Hotel Los Cuchumatanes***/ Plan B: Hotel Casa Blanca**/ Plan C: Hotel Zacaleu.
Day 11. ZACULEU – TODOS SANTOS – CHIABAL
Accompanied by a local guide make a brief tour of Huehuetenango, its central plaza, Catholic church and municipal theatre, the Institute of Culture. The people there speak Mam, Q’anjob’al and Spanish and work in agriculture, commerce, industry, services and artisan workshops. Worthy of special mention are the ceramic glass products, musical instruments, especially guitars, fireworks and palm products. Continue to Chivacabé to visit the palaeontology site El Mamut: Here on display are mammoth fossils and prehistoric deer from the paleo-indio period. Continue towards the ancient Mayan city Saq Ulew (Zaculeu) whose name means “white land” in K’iché. Buried in the heart of the Cuchumatan mountain range, Saq Ulew was the capital city of the Mam kingdom and is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of the Mayan post-classic period. The buildings date from the pre-classic period. Today on display are the remains of the temples, plazas and areas for playing the ancient ball game pelota. Of note at this site are the temascales that it was believed helped to purify the bodies and spirits of the leaders before ceremonies. After leaving Zaculeu, head to Todos Santos Cuchumatán whose archaeological artefacts indicate inhabitation since the early classic period, around the year 1500 BC. During the time in Todos Santos Cuchumatán visit the Todo Santos Artisans’ Shop where a video will be presented that shows the story of the town and its traditions and customs. Next visit the population and the Museum of Balam Culture whose owner Don Fortunato, has collected a range of articles during his life from everyday items such as shoes, traditional dresses and traditional dances and masks to ceramic items as well as pre-Colombian items including utensils and raw materials for preparing food, musical instruments and photographs taken by Hans Namuth. His collection displays the evolution of the people from the time of his grandparents to the present day. The journey then continues to Chiabal, a community of Mam origen locted 17 kilometers from Todos Santos to spend the night in the homes of local families that are members of the Association of Organizations of the Cuchumatanes (ASOCUCH are its initials in Spanish) who will share their food and provide a unique experience in an autochthonous cultural environment. Here you will learn about the way of life of the people. The community of Chiabal is surrounded by nature, traditional mud-brick houses and women weaving outside their houses.
Overnight: Plan A & B & C : Accommodation with local families.
Day 12. CHIABAL – CHAJUL – NEBAJ
Breakfast at 7:30am with the families in their homes. The guide from ASOCUCH will take the group to the highest mountain peak in the country to enjoy a spectacular view in the Todos Santos Cuchumatán Municipal Forest Reserve. The journey will continue to Chiantla for a brief tour and visit of its church constructed between 1722 and 1723. On display is the image of the Virgen of Candelaria which dates from the seventeenth century and is visited by pilgrims. The altarpiece that guards the virgin is in the baroque style and elaborated with silver. Leave and head to the Ixil region in the territorial department of El Quiché comprised of Nebaj, Chajul and Cotzal. Chajul was the most important place in Ixil. Ceramic archaeological artefacts suggest that this region has been occupied since the second century AC and its indigenous control ended with the Spanish conquest. The communities of this region where severely affected during the civil war that ended with the signing of the Peace Accords in December 1996. Its inhabitants were forced to choose between supporting the national army or the armed guerrillas. The “scorched earth” policy polarized the population and initiated a massive displacement of the population resulting in the destruction of the social fabric of the communities. The Ixil region still retains its cultural richness and traditions. The traditional dress is one of the characteristics that remains intact and is considered a perfect fusion of history and tradition. During much of the nineteenth century there were no ladino people (meaning non-indigenous, or often a mixture of different cultures) and only at the beginning of the twentieth century did ladina families move to the area. Upon arrival in Chajul we will check in to the Posada Vetz K’aol, owned by the Association Chajulense, where rooms and bathrooms are shared. After resting a local guide from the association will accompany the group to a house with murals from the sixteenth century, the colonial church that has on display wooden altarpieces, antique paintings and the Christ of Golgota. The architecture of the houses made of mud-brick, wood, and tile roofs make Chajul a place unique for its culture, tradition and ancestral customs. Dinner will be in the Posada Vetz K’aol where you can acquire artisan works produced by members of the Association of Women United for Life, Youth Association Tx’amil Chajulense and Pastoral de la Mujer.
Overnight: Plan A & B & C : BASIC HOTEL IN CHAJUL , there are NO other options here ! One of this basic places is Posada Vetz K,aol .
Day 13. CHAJUL – USPANTAN
Breakfast at 8:00am in the Posada. Accompanied by a local guide visit the Ixil Mayan Museum and the House of Culture that has on display ceramic vases, rock tools, historic documents, clothing, and an urn with remains of victims of the civil war, weapons and other items. Next continue to Tzich’el, a waterfall whose distance is calculated to be 75 meters from San Juan Cotzal. Also visit the Catholic Church whose route of the cross tells about the horrors of the civil war. Lunch will be at the Ixil Cultural Center and artisan market of Nebaj prepared by members of the Ixil Mayan Center. Here visit the museum and artisan market. During lunch listen to a conference about the Mayan cosmovision and textiles, the history of the Ixil region and its culture, traditions and customs. Travel to nearby Nebaj and learn about the four rulers of the Mayan cosmovision: Xo’l chaxb’aez West, Ti’kajay South, Ti’ixaal’ East, Kuexul Chi’m North and visit a cemetery where there is a monument to the victims of the civil war that ended with the signing of the peace accords in 1996. In the afternoon head to Uspantán to have dinner in the restaurant El Golazo.
Overnight: Plan A & B & C : Hotel La Uspanteka. There are no other options here
Day 14. USPANTAN – COBAN
At 7:00am leave the hotel and go to the El Golazo restaurant for breakfast. According to historians the inhabitants of Uspantán have their origins in the pre-classic period. In 1530 they were conquered by the Spanish, making them one of the last groups to be conquered, along with the people of Ixil. In Uspantán a local guide who is a member of the Uspantán Tourism Association (ACAT are its initials in Spanish) will guide the group on a one and a half hour hike of moderate difficulty to the grottos of Peña Flor. On the way you may see squirrels, armadillos and listen to the singing of the birds. You can see archaeological remains and evidence of an area for playing the Mayan ball game pelota of the first site of this ancient city called Tzunun Kaab’, as Uspantán was originally called. At the end of the track is the Peña Flor grotto covered with moss and colorful orquids where beautiful waterfalls emerge. A fruit snack will be provided before returning to the road where a vehicle will be waiting to take the group to El Pajuil in Chicamán accompanied by a guide from the El Pajuil Poqomchi Committee of Educational Culture and Ethnic Tourism (CCEEPP are its initials in Spanish). Upon arrival at El Pajuil visit a Mayan kitchen poqomchi’ to enjoy a local lunch known as saqiik (a soup made of corn, chile and turkey meat), accompanied by marimba music played by local children. After lunch visit the community museum and artisan workshops. Leave Chicamán and head to the Xoconeb sacred hill. At this site there are twelve cofradías from the Uspanteka, K’iche and Q’eqchi’ cultures (cofradias are associations and stewardships of Mesoamerican origin). In Xocoeb there are two grottos, one of which is like a church with areas dedicated to the images of saints where candles are placed and another in which the Mayan priests (ajq’il) celebrate ceremonies according to their calendar and the sacred flame is fed with colorful candles, to ask for health and riches, bless seeds, and be thankful for favors given. At this sacred hill a ceremony will be performed asking for health, life and safety on the journey home.
Overnight:Plan A: Park Hotel ***/ Plan B: Hotel Casa Duranta **/ Plan C: Pensión Monja Blanca.
Day 15. COBAN – SAN JUAN CHAMELCO – COBAN
Start at 8:00am. To take advantage of the fresh morning start the day with a visit to the nearby Chicoj Coffee Cooperative comprised of more than 300 people of q’eqchi’ ethnicity where guides from the community will explain the coffee production process during a tour of the plantation. Next return to the city of Coban, founded in 1543 by the Dominican friars, and given the name “Imperial City” by the Spanish King Carlos V, as a result of the admiration prompted by the visit of Aj Pop, also known as Juan Matalbatz and other Maya Q’eqchi’ leaders. From the central plaza visit the beautiful cathedral constructed in 1543 where you can see beautiful altarpieces, candelabras and candlesticks. Next continue to the small historical museum of Alta Verapaz and visitors’ center of the region and the Museum of the Mayan Prince where a magnificent private collection that holds pre-hispanic pieces is on display. Continue to the Ixmucané Council of Mayan Women with fifty members of Q’eqchi’ origin where you can buy beautiful dolls and artisan works made by widows and orphans of the civil war that ended in 1996 with the signing of the peace. We will watch a demonstration by the artisans and enjoy some tostaditas and a drink called pinol. Next head to the Calvario constructed in 1810 after climbing 137 steps that are illuminated by candles on January 14 and 15 when the religious festival Señor de Esquipulas is celebrated, on December 8 in honor of the Virgin of Concepción and on December 24 and 31, creating a mystical atmosphere. Before finishing the morning we will visit the artisan shop of the Aj K’uub’anel Association of Artisans where we will find weavings and earthenware products, leather and traditional sweets. The order of the visits can change. Free time to enjoy lunch (not provided) in Cobán.
2:00pm Travel to San Juan Chamelco. On the way visit the Chirrepec Agricultural Cooperative to learn about the cultivation, harvest and processing of tea. In San Juan Chamelco there is a site honouring Juan Matalbatz, Cacique de Caciques (Chief of Chiefs), a national hero for having negotiated a peaceful entry of the Spanish army into the territory of Tezulutlán. He was the only indigenous chief who visited the Spanish Royal Court who for his visit was named as first governor for life of the Verapaces region and is the only case during the Spanish arrival in which an indigenous chief was permitted to retain his political power. Juan Matalbatz was given the right to detain and punish Spaniards and this prompted the province to change its name from Tezulutlán (Tierra de Guerra – land of war) to Verapaz (Land of True Peace).
Overnight in Cobán (second night)
Day 16. COBAN – SEMUC CHAMPEY – LANQUIN – COBAN
Travel to Semuc Champey, a national monument of Guatemala where there are springs, ponds and waterfalls that go to the Cahabón River which travels underground before emerging again at the surface. This site is of special importance to Mayan spirituality due to its abundance of flora and fauna, the connection between man and the forces and spirits of nature, teaching to treat it with respect in order to maintain equilibrium. Here we can bathe and enjoy a traditional lunch.
After lunch visit the grottos of Lanquín, a sacred site for the Mayans believed to be inhabited by the Chacs, divinities of the rain, the nawales of the four cardinal points and the four colors of the Mayan cosmovision: red, black, white and yellow. These grottos feature in the Popul Wuj as the entrance to Xib’alb’a, the underworld, place of obscurity and death, that had two principal entrances: caves and water bodies. Ceremonies in thanks of Ajaw (god) and ancestors are celebrated here.Overnight in Coban (third night)
Day 17. COBAN – CHISEC
Travel to Chisec, whose name has two interpretations: “place of the navaja” or “place of the trastos”. In Chisec and surrounding areas evidence of Mayan inhabitation has been found. Here, at only 200 meters above sea level we will begin an incredible adventure in the Caves of Candelaria national park, one of the paths of Xib’alb’a, made up of a system of mystical speleological caves that are a site of pilgrimage for descendents of the Mayans, considered to be the entrance to the underworld where souls rest. These caves were declared to be a cultural and eco-tourism complex due to their richness in flora, fauna and archaeological sites. In Candelaria visit the caves Window of Safety and Dome of the Bats. The walk is of moderate to high level of difficulty, walking approximately 3.4 kilometers in a time of 3.4-5 hours. Have lunch in the Candelaria visitors’ center where you will enjoy a traditional dish of the region known as kaq’ik that is a soup made of turkey, corn tamales and white rice prepared by women of q’eqchi’ origin who are members of the Chisec Tourism Association (AGETUCHI are its initials in Spanish). Lunch is included.
After lunch enjoy a short rest and continue to the Muqb’ilja community. Located here are the caves called Venado Seco and Mico, another path of Xib’alb’a, whose name is of special importance as it is considered the beginning of creation and the thread of time and life. Ceremonies of veneration are celebrated here and it is given great importance according to the Mayan cosmovision. We will walk half an hour along a track that requires moderate to high levels of effort to get to the Peña del Tigre Ecolodge where we will stay in two cabins with full sanitary services. At the end of the afternoon visit the community, and the house of music whose group consists of eight people, and enjoy a 45 minute presentation. It is recommended that visitors leave a donation.
Overnight: Plan A & B & C : Ecolodge Peña del Tigre. (very basic)
Day 18. CHISEC – CANCUEN – SAYACHE – FLORES ISLAND
After breakfast in the Ecolodge travel to La Unión. Here leave the vehicle and board a boat to travel to the ancient Mayan city (archaeological park) of Cancuén.
Cancuén is considered a sacred site by the descendents of the Mayan q’eqchi’, it is believed to be inhabited by the Tz’ultaq’a (god of hills and valleys) and ceremonies are performed there related principally to the planting of maize. This city was governed by Tah Ak Chann who converted it in a city made powerful by its economic development and trade in the classic Mayan period. From this site the trades in jade and quetzal feathers (bird symbol of Guatemala) were controlled. Jade worksites, burials of kings and markers for the ancient Mayan ball game pelota have also been found. You can also see a replica of a pre-hispanic Mayan house and palaces that are in the process of being restored. In Cancuén see the investigation and restoration work being carried out by archaeologists. After lunch (not included) head to Sayache, arriving at the end of the day in Flores, Peten. (or in TIKAL)
Overnight: Plan A: Hotel Camino Real Petén****/ Plan B: Hotel Villa Maya.*** or TIKAL INN in TIKAL / Plan C: Hotel Villa del Lago or Hotel Jaguar Inn in TIKAL .
Note : MAKE YOUR RESERVATION LONG ENOUGH IN ADVANCE .. HOTELS WILL BE FULL ALL OVER FLORES and TIKAL
Day 19. FLORES ISLAND – TIKAL NATIONAL PARK
Without doubt Tikal is a place not to be missed. From Flores explore with a local certified guide. After about one hour’s travel by road walk for four hours through this world-wide renowned site. In the afternoon after lunch (included) there will be time to discover for yourself the beauty of this culture that still survives today through its people. The grandness of the acropolis in Tikal, Peten, is the best exponent of the most expressive synthesis of what was the classic Mayan culture with its attention focused on religious activity. (Classic period 250-900 AC)
Overnight: Plan A:Camino Real TIKAL ./ Plan B: Tikal Inn or Jungle Lodge ./ Plan C: Jaguar Inn.
Note : MAKE YOUR RESERVATION LONG ENOUGH IN ADVANCE .. HOTELS WILL BE FULL ALL OVER FLORES and TIKAL
Day 20. TIKAL NATIONAL PARK – GUATEMALA CITY
Fly Tikal to Guatemala. Early in the morning you will have the option to walk again through the jungle (optional, not included) and explore in tranquility. In the afternoon transfer from Tikal to Flores to take a TAG domestic flight to Guatemala with transfer to Hotel.
Overnight: Plan A: Hotel Camino Real **** / Plan B: Hotel Princess or Posada Belén *** in the historical center /Plan C: Posada Los Volcanes*
Day 21. GUATEMALA CITY
Free time and international flight
If your flight is programmed for the afternoon you will have time to say goodbye to the Mayan culture visiting the Museum Ixchel and or the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology or any other of your interest. End of Services.
- Private transportation with a bilingual driver/guide during the 21 days of the itinerary.
- The driver is also a very knowledgeable guide who explains you the mayan calendar and the mayan cosmovision .
- 20 nights double room occupancy on the hotels mentioned, with breakfast .
- Domestic flight between Guatemala City and Flores.
- Local guides for the tours.
- 24 hour telephone assistance.
- Entrance fees to the sites and all places visited
- Tips to Drivers and Guides.
- Meals other than mentioned within the Itinerary.
- International airfare to/from Guatemala and Airport taxes.
Prices per person : (USD $)
SGL supplement : Plan A : 595 USD / Plan B : 510 USD / Plan C : 415 USD
SPECIAL TRIP: leaving Monday 3th December 2012 …. Because of the Mayan calendar!!!!!
Supplement leaving 3th dec. : + 500 USD p.p. / supplement single if leaving on the 3th December + 200 USD (above the 500 USD )
(*) Prices NOT valid during holy week / Christmas & New year
Our itineraries can be individualized or adapted to extended stay