- Learn the art and history of Guatemalan cuisine with a traditional cooking class
- Ride bikes through the charming villages and farms of Antigua
- Hike the mighty Acatenango volcano and camp among the lava fields
- See the ancient ruins and pyramids of Tikal National Park
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Chocolate Workshop||Antigua|
|Day 2||Antigua Walking Tour, Traditional Guatemalan Cooking Class||Antigua|
|Day 3||Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano||Antigua|
|Day 4||Bicycle Tour of Antigua's Villages, Farms & Ruins||Antigua|
|Day 5||Overnight Camping Trip to Acatenango Volcano||Acatenango|
|Day 6||Explore Acatenango Volcano, Transfer to Lake Atitlán||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 7||Goat Cheese Farm, Maya Culinary Masterclass||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 8||Lake Atitlán Village Tour||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 9||Atitlán Nature Reserve Adventure||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 10||Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua||Antigua|
|Day 11||Antigua Market Day, Fly to Flores||Flores|
|Day 12||Discover Tikal National Park||Flores|
|Day 13||Tour Lake Petén Itzá, Actun Kan Caves, Transfer to Guatemala City||Guatemala City|
|Day 14||Depart Guatemala City|
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Chocolate Workshop
Welcome to Guatemala! Upon your arrival at Guatemala City airport, a driver will pick you up for the one-hour transfer to the colonial city of Antigua. Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is known for its Old Town and main plaza, Parque Central. Three volcanoes also border it, and the contrast between these imposing mountains and the city's colorful architecture is part of why Antigua has earned UNESCO World Heritage status. Once you've had a chance to regroup, it's time for your family to get out and explore.
Start with a visit to the main plaza, where you can stroll the cobbled streets and treat the family to local street food like tostadas and dobladas, Guatamalen's version of empanadas, Be sure to stop by some of the area's historic landmarks, such as the Santa Catalina Arch and the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara. If the kids need to burn some energy, head over to the Cerro de la Cruz ("Hill of the Cross") trailhead, where a quick 15-minute hike on a paved trail takes you to the cross displayed at the summit and offers epic views of the city.
This afternoon, take a workshop at the ChocoMuseo—sure to be the highlight of the day for the kids! Besides crops like coffee and bananas, Guatemala also produces cacao (cocoa), which is the main ingredient in chocolate. Cacao has been cultivated here for thousands of years and was even enjoyed by the ancient Maya people. Learn about the history of cacao in Guatemala, as well as the process of growing, harvesting, and roasting the beans. Of course, the tour concludes with a delicious tasting and chocolates for the kids to take back to the hotel.
Day 2: Antigua Walking Tour, Traditional Guatemalan Cooking Class
Get orientated today with a guided walking tour of the city. A local expert historian will lead the tour and take you to Antigua's top landmarks, such as the El Palacio del Ayuntamiento ("City Hall Palace"), which was built in the 1700s and served as the Spanish government seat during the colonial era, and the Palace of the Captain's General, located in the main square and the headquarters of the Guatemala Institute of Tourism. You'll also have a chance to see the stunning Antigua Guatemala Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an impressive facade and beautiful statues out front.
Later, take a deep dive into Guatemalan cuisine and its history with a family cooking class. The food in Guatemala is a mix of colonial Spanish and Maya cooking, with unique dishes that are both delicious and fun to make. Chefs from the Sacatepéquez community teach this four-hour workshop, and you and the kids will prepare traditional main dishes, learn the art of tortilla-making, and hear stories about the history behind the recipes. At the end of the class, sit down with your fellow chefs and enjoy the meal you created.
Day 3: Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano
Guatemala is home to more than 37 volcanoes, three of which are currently active, and today your family will get a chance to see one of them up close! Take a private transfer from your hotel to Pacaya Volcano Park, home to Pacaya, one of the region's most popular active volcanoes. You'll start in the town of San Vicente Pacaya, where you'll meet up with your guides and head out. The trek to the summit takes about two hours, and while it's a pretty straightforward route, families with smaller children may want to bring a backpack to carry them in.
Traverse dried lava fields and otherworldly landscapes as you ascend, stopping for photos along the way. At the peak, break for a freshly prepared picnic while taking in the surrounding views of Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango volcanoes. See geothermal hotspots on the cooled lava formations, and the kids will have the fun option of roasting marshmallows on the hot, petrified lava. Afterward, descend back through the lava fields and through Pacaya's lush and lesser-known forests and farmland. Your driver will then return you to Antigua for the evening, where you can relax and regroup before tomorrow's busy day.
Day 4: Bicycle Tour of Antigua's Villages, Farms & Ruins
Learn more about local life around the Almolonga Valley with a guided bike tour. Meet up with your guide and head out of the city, traveling south to the base of the Agua volcano. Along the way, you'll make plenty of stops at nearby churches and Spanish colonial ruins. Visit Valhalla, where you'll tour a macadamia nut farm and learn about their soil and water conservation work and sample some delicious macadamia nuts, then continue to San Antonio Aguas Calientes, famous for its textiles and weaving.
You'll also cruise through the town of Ciudad Vieja, a historic city that was originally founded as the second capital of Guatemala, abandoned after a devastating earthquake in 1541. Today, it's a quiet place with a nice plaza where the kids can run and play, a restored colonial church, and a plaque commemorating the site of the first Catholic mass in the country. Afterward, bike back to Antigua just in time for lunch.
Day 5: Overnight Camping Trip to Acatenango Volcano
It's off to Acatenango today for hiking and an overnight adventure. Depart from Antigua with your guides in a 4WD vehicle and make your way to a farm that sits at the base of the volcano, then travel along dirt roads through farms and forests. Stop for lunch at an overlook of the surrounding valley, then continue on before parking the car and hiking to the campsite. Trek along the volcano's ridge through coniferous and tropical forests, including a forest of white petrified trees—the result of a forest fire years ago. The trail to the campsite is fairly moderate and both kids and adults will find it manageable.
As you approach the camp, you'll be rewarded with views of Agua towering above the valley below and the spectacularly active neighboring peak of Fuego. After setting up camp, your family will be free to rest, relax and enjoy the surroundings as your guide prepares dinner and beverages for all. Later tonight, you'll enjoy a campfire under the stars, and with any luck, you and the kids might see some fantastic fiery bursts of lava from Fuego shooting into the night sky!
Day 6: Explore Acatenango Volcano, Transfer to Lake Atitlán
After an early camp breakfast, your guide will take you on the hour-long ascent to the summit of Acatenango, traversing across a sand and gravel trail. This is the steepest part of the trail, and while not overly strenuous, hikers of all ages should be cautious and aware. At the summit, take in the 360-degree views of the entirety of the Guatemalan highlands—all the way to the border of Mexico. Afterward, make the hour-long hike back down to the car and drive back to Antigua, where you'll check out of your hotel and depart for your next destination, Lake Atitlán.
Day 7: Goat Cheese Farm, Maya Culinary Masterclass
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Start your exploration of Lake Atitlán, one of the most well-known lakes in the country. The lake was formed more than 80,000 years ago and sits in a volcanic crater with stunning blue-green waters and lush greenery. Walk to the lake and take the incredible views, or rent kayaks or paddleboards for the kids. Teens or older kids can take a paragliding ride, soaring over the lake, and smaller children will enjoy just splashing around the shoreline.
After you've seen some of what the lake has to offer, take a guided tour of a Guatemalan goat cheese farm. Learn about the process of making goat cheese while interacting with (and perhaps even feeding!) the goats themselves. The kids will get to play with the goats and other farm animals while your guide shares stories about goat farming in Guatemala. The tour takes you through every step of cheese-making and ends with a tasting of several varieties of goat cheese.
This afternoon, continue your education on Guatemalan food and culture with a Maya Culinary class. A local chef will instruct you on the Maya's culinary heritage, sharing their knowledge and history of the ingredients. For the Maya, food was not just nourishment but also a way to prevent illness and treat health issues. Learn to make dishes such as pepián (a spiced meat stew) and jocón de pollo (chicken in a tomatillo cilantro sauce) and the kids will get to try their hand at cooking too. Depending on the season, the class will take place in an outdoor kitchen in the middle of the forest, which only adds to the fun!
Day 8: Lake Atitlán Village Tour
Get better acquainted with the Lake Atitlán region today with a village tour. Travel with your guide via private boat, enjoying the peaceful views while the kids keep an eye out for birds or the occasional splashing fish. You'll visit some of the Maya villages that surround the lake, meet the residents, and learn about their daily life. Stop by a women's weaving co-op and see their amazing woven goods, and visit a shrine dedicated to the Maya saint, Maximón, known to be more mischievous than saintly! This afternoon, take a walk to the lake, and the kids can swim or play along the shore.
Day 9: Atitlán Nature Reserve Adventure
You're off to the Atitlán Nature Reserve (Reserva Natural de Atitlán) today, a must-see for anyone visiting the Lake Atitlán region and an especially fun excursion for the kids. The reserve, which is dedicated to the preservation of the lake's environmental and cultural heritage, offers guided walks that take you deep into the forests via hanging bridges, ziplining rides that fly you across waterfalls and steep cliffs, and a cable bike ride that crosses the valley of San Buenaventura, overlooking lush forests as you pedal along, suspended in the air.
Stop in at the butterfly geodome, where the kids can see hundreds of colorful butterflies as they alight on surrounding flowers and foliage, and make sure the whole family keeps an eye out for curious monkeys, tropical birds, or coatimundis. And if you aren't interested in flying through the trees or biking along a cable line, there are also several foot trails worth hiking. Families planning to zipline or cable bike will receive a safety briefing from a trained guide, and each rider wears a harness that is hooked to the above cable.
Day 10: Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua
Explore the many charms of Lake Atitlán at your own pace as you kayak and hike around the region. Your guide will meet you in the morning, and after a safety briefing and instructions, your family will kayak westward along the lake's north shore. You'll pass by villages perched on lakeside cliffs, hop in the water for a swim, and the older kids can even do some cliff jumping! Your destination is a spot near the village of San Marcos La Laguna, where you'll leave your kayak behind and lace up your hiking boots.
Follow the lake trail between the villages, taking in views of the San Pedro, Tolimán, and Atitlán volcanoes. Hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours, and eventually, the route will return you to your lodgings. If you have younger children, your guide can accommodate them with a shorter version of the hike that is appropriate for all ages and fitness levels. Later today, your driver will collect you and transfer you back to Antigua, where you'll overnight.
Day 11: Antigua Market Day, Fly to Flores
A visit to Antiqua's local market is a must-do, and today is the perfect day for it. Whether you're in search of a special souvenir or want to try more authentic Guatemalan foods, the central market has it all. Located just 10 minutes from the city's central park, it covers an enormous area with hundreds of indoor and outdoor shops. Soak in the cultural atmosphere as you shop alongside local residents, try out some new foods, and let the kids pick out a fun toy or other treats to take home!
If you didn't get a chance to visit the Almolonga Valley during the first part of your trip, you can also take a driving tour to historic Ciudad Vieja and some of the other nearby towns and villages. Later today, you'll take a private transfer to Guatemala City airport and fly north to Flores, a small island town in Lake Petén Itzá and a gateway to national parks and Maya ruins. After you get checked in at your hotel, take a stroll around the island and see some of the sights.
Flores is small and walkable, making it accessible even for those families with very small children. Visit a local café for a snack of pupusas (corn tortillas stuffed with different fillings), then stop in at Petencito Zoo, a wildlife conservation and rehabilitation facility that allows you to walk the grounds and meet some of the animals that live there. Afterward, take a boat to Jorge's Rope Swing. As the name indicates, it does indeed have rope swings that take you out into the lake! There are also hammocks, a large dock, and relaxing benches for the adults.
Day 12: Discover Tikal National Park
Take a guided tour of the famous Tikal National Park, known for its impressive Maya pyramids and sprawling ruins. This UNESCO World Heritage Site hosts the former capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya civilization, with the tallest pre-Columbian structure in the Americas: Temple IV, or the Great Jaguar, which stands at 270 feet (70 m) tall.
Your expert guide will take you around the vast complex of temples and pyramids, and you'll have a chance to see all the major sites, including the five temples, as well as the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, and the Window Palace. The older kids will enjoy hearing about the history of this ancient region from your guide, and the younger ones will love catching glimpses of the area's wildlife, which includes curious monkeys and brightly colored tropical birds. Return to your Flores hotel later today, where you can relax or see more of the island.
Day 13: Tour Lake Petén Itzá, Actun Kan Caves, Transfer to Guatemala City
Take a boat tour around Flores and see the island from a different vantage point. Your guide will meet you in the morning, and you'll set sail on Petén Itzá, the second-largest lake in Guatemala. Learn about the history of the island and of the Maya communities—most of which were established long before the Spanish arrived—and visit points of interest such as Santa Barbara Island, where the kids might catch glimpses of the iguanas that make the island their home. You'll also have a chance to visit Mirador del Rey Canek, a viewpoint that overlooks the lake and island.
This evening, depart Flores and head back to Guatemala City, where you can enjoy your last evening in Guatemala. If the kids aren't too tired from their travels, you can visit La Aurora Zoo, which has more than 100 different animal species, or the Children's Museum (Museo del Niño), where you'll find fun and interactive exhibits for both younger and older children. Otherwise, rest up for the journey home tomorrow.
Day 14: Depart Guatemala City
Your Guatemala adventure ends today as your driver transfers you from your hotel in Guatemala City to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!
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