- Tour a chocolate museum and turn cacao beans into sweet treats
- Kayak along the peaceful shores and blue waters of Lake Atitlán
- Shop, eat, and explore the historic Maya market of "Chichi"
- Take a guided horseback tour along the stunning black-sand beaches of Monterrico
|Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Chocolate Museum
|Local Foodie Tour, Sawdust Carpet Workshop
|Day Trip to the Almolonga Valley & Ciudad Vieja
|Traditional Guatemalan Cooking Class
|Goat Cheese Farm, Honey Pairing
|Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Spiritual Maya Ceremony
|Lake Atitlán Village Tour
|Visit Chichicastenango Market
|Flor de Ixcaco Weaving Workshop
|Transfer to El Paredón & the Coast
|Horseback Riding in Monterrico, Sea Turtle Conservation Project
|Mangroves Tour, Free Afternoon in El Paredon
|Free Morning in El Paredón, Transfer to Antigua
|Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Chocolate Museum
Welcome to Guatemala! Upon your arrival at Guatemala City airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to the city of Antigua. Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is known for its Spanish colonial 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.
Visit historic landmarks such as the Santa Catalina Arch, the ruins of the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral, and the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara. Then, treat the family to local street food like tostadas and dobladas, Guatamala's version of empanadas, as you stroll the city's cobbled streets.
This afternoon, take a workshop at the Chocolate Museum—sure to be the day's highlight 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. You'll participate in a "bean to bar" class that shares the history of cacao in Guatemala while taking you through the chocolate-making process. Prepare your own Maya chocolate drink, and the kids can make custom chocolates to take back to the hotel.
Day 2: Local Foodie Tour, Sawdust Carpet Workshop
Your day begins with an exploration of Guatemalan culture in a very delicious way—through the food! You'll take a guided walking tour of Antigua, stopping at traditional restaurants and street vendors for a variety of savory and sweet local treats. Try snacks such as meat or bean-filled pupusas, fried and stuffed plantains known as rellenitos, and of course, the kids will want to try some sweet buñuelos. Your guide will share insight and education on the history of the foods, and you'll leave the tour feeling full and satisfied.Afterward, head to a workshop on creating Guatemala's colorful and unique festival decorations, alfombras (carpets). During Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week), Guatemalans adorn their streets with long, decorative rugs that are actually made from flowers, colored sawdust, pine needles, fruits, and vegetables. During this two-hour class, you'll learn about the history of alfombras, which date back hundreds of years, while you and the kids create the carpets with help from local families.
Day 3: Day Trip to the Almolonga Valley & Ciudad Vieja
Venture beyond Antigua for a guided driving tour of the Almolonga Valley and a visit to the town of Ciudad Vieja. This historic city was originally founded as the second capital of Guatemala but was 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.
Departing Ciudad Vieja, you'll head south to the various towns and villages nestled in the valley. Your guide will make several stops along the way so the little ones can stretch their legs, and the adults can get photos of some of the area's historical sites and churches. Visit textile and weaving co-ops in the villages, and make a stop at a sustainable macadamia nut farm. Here, you'll get a chance to see the nut trees, learn about the farm's work to provide local employment, their soil and water conservation work, and your whole family can sample some delicious macadamia nuts.
Day 4: Traditional Guatemalan Cooking Class
Learn more about 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! This four-hour workshop is taught by chefs from the Indigenous Sacatepéquez community, 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 5: Goat Cheese Farm, Honey Pairing
This morning, 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 the history of 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.Continue your education on Guatemala's agricultural resources with a sweet treat for the whole family—honey tasting. Guatemala is known for its honey, and this tour allows you to try four different kinds. Honey flavors depend on the types of bees, their territories, and the flowers from which they collect pollen. Experience the different tastes, smells, and colors of four different kinds of honey while your guide explains where they came from and why each is unique. Fresh local foods, including ham, cheeses, fruits, and bread accompany the tasting.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Spiritual Maya Ceremony
Your driver will pick you up today for the 2.5-hour ride west from Antigua to Lake Atitlán, one of the most well-known lakes in the country. Traveling via the Pan-American Highway, which stretches from one end of the Americas to the other (Alaska to Argentina), you'll be greeted with stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The lake, which was formed more than 80,000 years ago, sits in a volcanic crater with stunning blue-green waters and lush greenery. After you check in at your hotel, you're free to explore.
Walk to the lake and take the incredible views, and you can rent kayaks or paddleboards for the kids if you like. There are also guided kayak tours and boat tours around the lake. Teens or older kids can take a paragliding ride, soaring over the lake, and smaller children will enjoy just splashing around the shoreline.Later, your family can learn about the spiritual side of Guatemalan culture with a traditional Maya fire ceremony. A local guide will explain the significance of the experience, which is led by a spiritual guide known as El Ajq'ij. The ceremony includes candles, with meditations on aligning your energy with the cosmos, a Maya practice that goes back more than 5,000 years.
Day 7: Lake Atitlán Village Tour
Get better acquainted with the Lake Atitlán region with a village tour today. 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 beautiful 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 8: Visit Chichicastenango Market
Take a day trip to Chichicastenango, or "Chichi" as the locals call it, a town in the Guatemalan highlands that is home to one of the largest markets in Central America. The market was established long before Spanish arrival and primarily serves the townspeople who come from far and wide to buy and sell products.
Take a tour of this vibrant and historic place, checking out amazing handicrafts and textiles, as well as loads of fresh produce and street food. Sample foods like pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and the kids will love trying polvorosas, a type of cookie. Barter for souvenirs, or just walk around the lively square.
Day 9: Flor de Ixcaco Weaving Workshop
Learn the intricacies of traditional Maya weaving at Casa Flor Ixcaco today, a local cooperative that offers workshops on the history and process of creating artisan clothing. The cooperatives focus on preserving their traditions through teaching, manufacturing, and selling Guatemalan textile products. Working with handmade fabrics, organic cotton, and natural dyes, you'll learn all about the art of weaving, and the kids will be able to practice their own skills while using a traditional waist loom.
Day 10: Transfer to El Paredon & the CoastYour journey continues today as you make the three-hour transfer to the Pacific coast and the beach town of El Paredon, one of the premier surf destinations in the country. After you get settled at your accommodations, it's time for a beach day and some fun with those famous El Paredon waves! Grab a board and hit the water, or sign up for family surf lessons. Keep in mind that the currents here can be quite strong, so make sure younger children have the proper safety equipment. The black-sand beaches here can also hold a lot of heat, so water shoes are a good idea.
Day 11: Horseback Riding in Monterrico, Sea Turtle Conservation Project
This morning, you'll make the two-hour drive from El Paredon to Monterrico, a laid-back beach town with a beautiful expanse of black-sand beach. At the beach, you'll meet up with professional guides and get introduced to the horses. After a safety briefing, you'll mount up and head down the beach. The ride can accommodate all skill levels, and you'll have the option of leisurely paced trail rides or galloping through ocean waves.
This afternoon, your family is in for a very special wildlife experience—a visit to Monterrirco's turtle conservation center. Dedicated to protecting Pacific coast sea turtles, the center rescues sick or injured turtles and rehabilitates them, as well as runs a hatchery for turtle eggs. If you happen to be here between September and February, the kids might even get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help release turtle hatchlings into the ocean!
Day 12: Mangroves Tour, Free Afternoon in El Paredon
Take a guided ferry ride down the Chiquimulilla Canal, a man-made canal built in the 19th century as a way to facilitate commerce between villages. The canal runs parallel to the coast and is lined with acres of mangroves, creating a huge forested refuge for a variety of wildlife. Cruise along the quiet waters while the kids exclaim over the plethora of birdlife, fish, and even the occasional caimans (a type of alligator) lurking near the shore.
You can also opt for a tour that allows for fishing or visit a local salt farm where you can see the process of natural salt extraction. And if your family is interested in trying some fishing on the open sea, there are tours out of El Paredon where you'll head out on the water with local fishermen and learn their fishing techniques before trying it on your own. End the day with a stroll along the beach, watching the surfers finish their runs as the sun sets behind them.
Day 13: Free Morning in El Paredon, Transfer to Antigua
Enjoy your last morning in El Paredon with some more beach time and surfing fun, or take a stroll through town and peruse some of the local shops for last-minute souvenirs. Have lunch at a local café, or sign the kids up for a bracelet-making class, where they'll learn to make traditional bracelets that they can take home with them. Head back to Antiqua late this afternoon for your final night in Guatemala.
Day 14: Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart
Your Guatemala adventure ends today as your driver transfers you from your hotel to Guatemala City for your flight home. Safe travels!
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