If your idea of the perfect vacation involves more outdoor activities than indoor relaxation, then this eight-day adventure in Guatemala is for you. Get the blood pumping as you hike around the ancient Maya ruins at Tikal, then really push yourself on an ascent up the volcanic slopes of Pacaya. Finish the trip on the countryside and beaches as you kayak on Lake Atitlán, surf at El Paredon, and embark on coffee tours in the highlands.


  • Visit the ancient Maya archeological site of Tikal
  • Hike up the active volcano of Pacaya
  • Kayak on Lake Atitlán and surf on Pacific beaches
  • Stroll the coffee fields of the Guatemalan highlands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Optional Activities Guatemala City
Day 2 Transfer to Tikal National Park, Guided Tour Flores
Day 3 Transfer to Antigua, Hike Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 4 Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Visit the Iximché Ruins Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán, Transfer to El Paredón El Paredón
Day 6 El Paredon Activities, Tranfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 7 Coffee Tour & Zipline Antigua
Day 8 Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Optional Activities

The Plaza de la Constitución in Guatemala City

Welcome to Guatemala! This marvel of a country is home to both ancient Indigenous ruins and well-preserved colonial cities. Then there are all those mountains, lakes, and volcanoes to explore. You'll do it all as you experience Guatemala's outdoor highlights over eight event-filled days. Upon arrival at the airport in Guatemala City, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.

After checking in, you can embark on a self-guided tour of the Centro Histórico ("Historic Center"). Head to the Plaza de la Constitución, where you can visit the National Palace. Guatemala's most iconic building was once the headquarters of the president, but today it's a museum. Nearby are famous religious landmarks like the 18th-century Iglesia San Francisco, St. Augustine Rectory, and the Iglesia del Cerrito del Carmen

Day 2: Transfer to Tikal National Park, Guided Tour

Explore the ruins at Tikal

Your driver will take you to the airport this morning for the one-hour flight to the Petén region and the town of Flores. From there, it's a two-hour drive farther north to Tikal National Park. The ruins of this ancient Maya city sit on 222 square miles (576 sq km) and are part of the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve. Native fauna in this rainforest ecosystem include monkeys, toucans, pumas, and even jaguars.

Upon arrival, you'll meet an expert guide and explore this UNESCO World Heritage archeological site on a four-hour tour. Dating to around 400 BCE, Tikal was a major economic, political, and military center that reached its heyday during the Classic Maya period (250-900 CE). Throughout the tour, you'll visit all the major points of interest. This includes Temples I, II, III, IV, and V, the Lost World, Complex Q, the Great Plaza, the Window Palace, and more. After a break for lunch, you'll have more time to explore the site on your own. At the end of the day, you'll return to Flores and your hotel.

Day 3: Transfer to Antigua, Hike Pacaya Volcano

Hike the lava fields of Volcán Pacaya

In the morning, you'll catch a flight from Flores to Guatemala City. Then your driver will transfer you an hour west to the well-preserved Spanish-colonial city of Antigua. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its historic Old Town, situated around its main plaza, Central Park.

Except you won't be arriving in town yet. Instead, you'll travel to the foot of the volcano overlooking Antigua, the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Volcán Pacaya. Set in its own national park, Pacaya cuts an imposing figure with a continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and the massive dried lava field at the base of its caldera. When you get here, you'll join a hiking group and prepare to ascend the volcano.

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Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
The moderate hike takes about two hours to reach the top. Upon arrival at the summit, you'll enjoy a romantic picnic lunch amid panoramic highland views. The hike traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forests and farmland. You'll overnight in Antigua and can spend the remainder of the day here strolling the cobbled streets and enjoying the local restaurants, cafés, and bars around the main plaza.

Day 4: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Visit the Iximché Ruins

Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake Atitlán
Stay overnight at Lake Atitlán

Your driver will pick you up today for the approximately 2.5-hour drive west to Lake Atitlán. However, you'll break up the drive with a stop at the Iximché archaeological site. Back in the 15th century, this was a great capital of the Kaqchikel Maya kingdom. Its ruins sit in the western highlands of Guatemala and include pyramid temples, palaces, and two Mesoamerican ball courts. Take a personal guided tour through the site, which was declared a Guatemalan National Monument in the 1960s.

After the tour, you'll stop for a quick lunch then continue on to Atitlán. Three towering volcanoes surround this enormous crater lake, and beautiful local villages dot its shores. You'll arrive in one of these villages and check in to the accommodation where you'll overnight. Then you can spend the remainder of the day relaxing. 

Day 5: Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán, Transfer to El Paredón

Kayaking on Lake Atitlán

Wake up to views of the lake and its towering volcanoes before meeting your guide for today's expedition. You'll start out in a kayak, paddling westward along the north shore of Lake Atitlán for roughly two hours. Pass by villages perched on lakeside cliffs, hop in the water for a swim, or even do some cliff-jumping. Your destination is a spot between the villages of Tzununá and 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. You'll hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours, at which point you'll arrive in the town of Jaibalito. Enjoy a hearty and well-earned lunch, then you'll hop back in the car for a three-hour ride south to the Pacific coast and the beach town of El Paredón, one of the premier surf destinations in the country. Here, you'll check in to your hotel.

Day 6: El Paredón Activities, Tranfer to Antigua

The volcanic black-sand beaches at El Paredon

Wake up early and enjoy the fruits of this laid-back fishing village, which draws surfers from around the world for its reliable 3-12-foot (1-4 m) beach-break waves and barrels. If you aren't a seasoned wave rider, you can take a lesson at one of the local surf schools. After riding a few sets, you can spend the remainder of the morning relaxing and have lunch at a café in town. Another option is to visit a local sea turtle conservation sanctuary and release hatchlings onto the beach. After a day enjoying El Paredón, you'll make the return trip to Antigua.

Day 7: Coffee Tour & Zipline

Tour highland coffee fields

In the morning, hop in a car for a trip outside of Antigua to the De la Gente (DLG) coffee cooperative. On this half-day tour, you'll visit DLG's large-scale production farm. The site itself is a community on the flank of Volcán de Agua, where local farmers work together to grow, pick, and process their own coffee. DLG works with these farmers to help them brand their coffee and export it to global markets.

Your personal guide will lead you on a short hike around the fields, where you can meet some of the farmers. Then, you'll visit the roasting house to see how they toast the beans, one small batch at a time. A real treat is when you sit down to lunch with one of the farming families, sample their coffee, and learn a bit about life on a working coffee farm.

After the tour, you'll return to Antigua, but the adventure doesn't end there. Next up is a zipline ride over forests and waterfalls. There's the option for a long tour, which consists of 10 different ziplines, two suspension bridges, and other surprises. When the two-hour experience is over, you'll have the option to visit the Santo Domingo del Cerro outdoor cultural center and lookout point before returning to your hotel in Antigua.

Day 8: Transfer to Guatemala City & Depart

The historic streets of Antigua
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast to complement all the activities you've enjoyed over the past eight days. At the appropriate time, your driver will pick you up for the one-hour transfer to Guatemala City and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Adiós!

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Map of Active Guatemala: Flores, Antigua, Lake Atitlán & El Paredon - 8 Days
Map of Active Guatemala: Flores, Antigua, Lake Atitlán & El Paredon - 8 Days