Gear up and hit the trail for 15 days of backcountry fun in one of the world's prime mountain-biking destinations. Guatemala's topography is made for adventure, and on this itinerary, you'll cover hundreds of miles of mountain tracks as you encounter volcanoes, lakes, and jungles. Of course, there will be free time to slow down and enjoy the culture, from meeting Indigenous communities to tasting local street foods.


  • Ride on a mix of backcountry trails through coffee fields and dairy farms
  • Cycle around Atitlán, Guatemala's most famous lake, and explore villages
  • Complete your last ride at a series of turquoise river pools where you can swim
  • Stroll the colonial streets of Antigua with a historian (and on your own)

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antigua, Explore Antigua
Day 2 Antigua Walking Tour Antigua
Day 3 El Zur Ride Antigua
Day 4 Cielo Grande Ride Antigua
Day 5 Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Tecpán Ride Lake Atitlán
Day 6 Slickrock Ride Lake Atitlán
Day 7 Transfer to Huehuetenango, Explore Huehuetenango
Day 8 Climb the Cuchumatanes Mountains, Descend to Todos Santos Todos Santos Cuchumatan
Day 9 Cross-Country Ride: Todos Santos to Laguna Magdalena Laguna Magdalena
Day 10 Cross-Country Ride: Laguna Magdalena to Acul Acul
Day 11 Cross-Country Ride: Acul to Uspantan Uspantan
Day 12 Cross-Country Ride: Uspantan to Cobán Cobán
Day 13 Cross-Country Ride: Cobán to Semuc Champey Lanquín
Day 14 Transfer to Antigua, Explore Antigua
Day 15 Depart Guatemala  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antigua, Explore

Start your adventure with a self-guided tour around Antigua's Old Town
Welcome to Guatemala! If your goal is an unforgettable mountain-biking adventure through some of the most stunning landscapes in the Americas, you've come to the right place. Upon arrival in Guatemala City, a driver will pick you up for the 1.5-hour transfer to the historic city of Antigua. Here you'll check in to your hotel and can spend the rest of the day relaxing and preparing for the adventure ahead.
You'll want to make time to explore Antigua on a self-guided walking tour. Once the capital of Guatemala, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its Spanish colonial Old Town with three volcanoes complimenting the skyline. Walk along Antigua's cobbled streets and stop by historic landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch, the 16th-century ruins of Antigua Guatemala Cathedral, and the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara. Be sure to sample local street food such as dobladas (tostadas and empanadas).

Day 2: Antigua Walking Tour

Follow a historian around town as he or she points out Antigua's historic landmarks

Today you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast, perhaps near Central Park, Antigua's main plaza. Later, you'll meet a local historian and guide for a history-themed walking tour. During this excursion, you'll visit 18th-century landmarks like the Palacio del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Palace), the Palace of the Captain's General, and La Merced Church, whose canary-yellow Baroque facade is a hallmark of the city. You'll also stroll along the Paseo de Los Museos (Museum Path) and delve into the roots of Maya archaeology and culture. 

Day 3: El Zur Ride

Take your maiden ride in El Zur's private nature reserve

Today kicks off your first great ride in Guatemala! In the morning, after prepping your bike, you'll transfer into the mountains above Antigua by 4WD to a trail network sitting at 8,500 feet (2,590 m). Then hop on your bike and head out on a one-of-a-kind trail down through the beautiful El Zur, a private nature reserve. Located on the southern side of Volcán de Agua, this purpose-built route covers 12 miles (19 km) of rolling, single-track bliss.

Have a blast as you race down mountain switchbacks while enjoying the incredible scenery. Along the way, you'll pass through lush forests and ride up to incredible viewpoints, so keep your camera ready. At the bottom, enjoy snacks and refreshments before catching the shuttle back to Antigua.

Distance: 12 miles (19 km)
Ascent: 2,300 feet (700 m), descent: 3,380 feet (1,030 m)

Day 4: Cielo Grande Ride

Ride up into the mountains above Antigua
The name says it all for today's ride: Cielo Grande (Big Sky Ridge). The first part of this morning ride will test your endurance on a 2,378-foot (724 m) climb through old-growth forest to the top of the mountains above the Antigua Valley. No doubt it's a big ascent—long, hard, and technical—but once you reach the top you'll be treated to stunning panoramic views over the valley and the surrounding volcanoes. As a bonus, the single-track downhill ride back to Antigua is pure cycling fun.
Distance: 22 miles (35 km)
Ascent: 2,378 feet (724 m), descent: 2,378 feet (724 m)

Day 5: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Tecpán Ride

Biking past the beautiful Lake Atitlán
Hit the trails around Guatemala's Lake Atitlán, surrounded by volcanoes

This morning you'll meet your driver and pack your bike for the three-hour drive west toward Lake Atitlán, the most famous lake in the country. The drive to get there is a treat in itself, as it follows a section of the Pan-American Highway, which stretches from one end of the Americas to the other (Alaska to Argentina). Along this road are stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Your first destination here is the mountain town of Tecpán, located just outside of Atitlán. This is where you'll begin the day's ride. It's an epic backcountry adventure that celebrates a little bit of everything. A gradual dirt road climbs out of Tecpán, quickly turns to a mountain trail, and winds its way through pine-forested mountains. Be aware that there are various trail drops and a couple of tough, steep climbs.
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
The ride takes you through a rural Maya settlement before dropping on a steep descent along the famous Sendero de las Vacas (Trail of the Cows). A 2.5-mile (4 km) climb brings you to a stunning viewpoint above Lake Atitlán, where you'll have lunch and admire the views. Afterward, follow the contouring Santa Cat trail to the colorful Santa Catarina Palopó staircase run. Finish the ride in Panajachel, on Atitlán's north shore, where you'll spend the evening relaxing and enjoying the town's nightlife.
Distance: 23 miles (37 km)
Ascent: 3,235 feet (986 m), descent: 5,092 feet (1,552 m)

Day 6: Slickrock Ride

Trails above Lake Atitlan
A single-track trail in the mountains above Lake Atitlán

Enjoy a hearty breakfast at your hotel this morning and then hop on a shuttle for a transfer back up the mountain to the town of Las Trampas. Upon arrival at the trailhead of Slickrock, you'll embark on a point-to-point ride that takes you to a rest stop. Then it's a few miles of climbing on a mix of tracks and dirt roads to the highest point on the route at 9,842 feet (3,000 m).

From there, the trail drops fast and stays steep as you head to the upper Madre Vieja river valley. Work your way along the lush valley floor to your next long climb, a rough jeep-track ascent to a waiting support vehicle. After lunch, finish the descent into town on a stretch of tight, steep trail with switchbacks leading to the road just above Panajachel and the lake. 

Distance: 13 miles (21 km)
Ascent: 1,673 feet (510 m), descent: 4,823 feet (1,470 m)

Day 7: Transfer to Huehuetenango

Cenote de Candelaria, Huehuetenango.
Explore the cenotes (limestone sinkholes) in the quiet mountains near Huehuetenango
Today your legs will get a break! In the morning, your driver will pick you up for the four-hour transfer to Cuchumatanes, a rugged mountain range home to the highest non-volcanic peaks in Central America. Your destination is the city of Huehuetenango, which sits at an altitude of 6,233 feet (1,900 m). Know that the surrounding mountains, while vast and beautiful, are incredibly steep. This area sees very few Western visitors, and even fewer mountain bikers have explored its trails. It's as off-the-beaten-track as it gets.

Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel and will have the rest of the day to relax and buy any items you might need. You can also stop at the local bike shop to make any necessary repairs or purchase more gear for the upcoming cross-country ride. If you like, head out for a tour of the region's cenotes (limestone sinkholes).

Day 8: Climb the Cuchumatanes Mountains, Descend to Todos Santos

 Descend the Cuchumatanes mountains and stay in an Indigenous village for the night

Today you'll leave Huehuetenango early to get to your first major ascent. Here the road switchbacks uphill for 6 miles (9 km) with an elevation gain of 3,281 feet (1,000 m). It's a hard ascent, but it's filled with breathtaking views of the spine of the Cuchumatanes as you pass through small Indigenous villages. These little communities offer insight into the culture and way of life of the rural Guatemalan people. Near the top of the climb is a scenic lookout with sweeping views back to Antigua.

Further along, you'll ride on a mix of old tracks and trails as you make your way across the plateau. From here, enjoy an excellent single-track descent that drops down into the mountain village of Todos Santos Cuchumatán. The Indigenous residents of this pueblo still practice traditional customs and adhere to Maya culture. Upon arrival, head to your base for the night: a family-run guesthouse in the center of the town.

Distance: 27 miles (44 km)
Ascent: 2,300 feet (5,900 m), descent: 4,180 feet (1,275 m)

Day 9: Cross-Country Ride: Todos Santos to Laguna Magdalena

The emerald green waters of Laguna Magdalena
The emerald-green waters of Laguna Magdalena

It's time for your cross-country ride! The gorgeous landscape on this leg of the adventure includes rocky peaks, coniferous forests, stretches of arid soil, and fertile valleys with flocks of sheep. That said, it's a tough day as you tackle a rocky ascent on dirt tracks back to the plateau. Then follow sheep tracks and dirt roads that pass through humble pueblos to the edge of the main ridge of the Cuchumatanes. Here you'll enjoy an exhilarating descent followed by lunch. 

You'll overnight at the cabins of a community development project at Laguna Magdalena, near the village of Chancol, and experience firsthand how the locals live. You'll even enjoy a homemade dinner prepared by the villagers.

Distance: 26 miles (42 km)
Ascent: 4,920 feet (1,500 m), descent: 3,200 feet (975 m)

Day 10: Cross-Country Ride: Laguna Magdalena to Acul

Approaching the traditional cheese farms of Acul
Acul is known for its dairy farms and you'll have the opportunity to visit a cheese factory

This morning you'll embark on a ride to the Ixil Community, a triangle of three neighboring towns in the western highlands of Guatemala. The route follows a loop around the north side of a deep ravine separating the departments of Huehuetenango and Quiché. It's a fun dirt trail as you cycle across the mixed terrain of the Cuchumatanes high plateau. It's also a real cross-country adventure, one that runs through pinewoods and abounds with breathtaking mountain scenery.

At the northern end of the ride, there is a technical, often muddy descent to a remote village. From there, follow dirt roads to a river valley and continue onward for a fairly long climb then down to another river. Your destination is the village of Acul, which is known for cheesemaking and is the only dairy-producing zone in the region. You'll spend the night in a rustic, family-run hotel, and you can even visit a local cheese factory.

Distance: 36 miles (57 km)
Ascent: 3,930 feet (1,200 m), descent: 8,200 feet (2.500 m)

Day 11: Cross-Country Ride: Acul to Uspantan

Having fun on the local routes
Today is a long but rewarding ride that finishes in Uspantan

Today's long ride starts on an old highway that climbs steadily out of the Nebaj Valley. From Acul, ride down to the road and follow an undulating track to Nebaj, the main town of the Ixil community. Then pick up an old Maya highway, known as the Boqueron, and follow it up into the mountains on a route that offers sweeping views of the western highlands.

Continue around a high peak and admire more great views of Volcán Tajumulco before dropping down into a village. Here you'll meet a waiting support vehicle, regroup, and enjoy lunch in the town of Cunén. Venture on to the second major set of climbs, which takes you up high ridges and past pine forests and K'iche' Mayan villages to reach the town of Uspantan, home of 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist Rigoberta Menchú.

Distance: 37 miles (58 km)
Ascent: 5,900 feet (1,800 m), descent: 6,400 feet (1,950 m)

Day 12: Cross-Country Ride: Uspantan to Cobán

Look for resplendent quetzals on today's ride

The day begins with a rolling ride on a paved surface past the town of Chicamán. Follow this to a long, gradual, 6-mile (9 km) ascent on a dirt road that leads to the hills above the Chixoy River. Then enjoy a fast descent on a trail with some technical sections to the village of Ojo de Agua. Thus begins a rougher bit of single-track that takes you down to the river. After crossing a bridge, you'll start a series of long climbs that will take you through the rest of the day and covers 17 miles (27 km).

Reunite with the support vehicle in the town of Santa Cruz la Laguna, where you'll transfer to the city of Cobán. The Cobán region is home to some of Guatemala's densest cloud forests and is famous for coffee production. Also, it's one of the few remaining places where it's possible to spot the resplendent quetzal—Guatemala's rare national bird. You'll overnight at a hotel in nearby San Pedro Carchá.

Distance: 38 miles (61 km)
Ascent: 5,250 feet (1,600 m), descent: 6,560 feet (2,000 m)

Day 13: Cross-Country Ride: Cobán to Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey cascading pools
Take a dip in Semuc Champey's cascading pools

Your final day of riding takes you to the turquoise waters of Semuc Champey, an area of outstanding natural beauty known for its terraced pools of pristine river water. It's one of the best places in the entire country for a swim.

The first 31-mile section of today's ride follows a straightforward and undulating road with excellent views. Then you'll descend on a rough limestone path to the riverside town of Lanquín. Here you'll tackle the main challenge of the day: a steep 2-mile (3 km) climb to a ridge followed by a bumpy, jeep-track descent to Semuc Champey. Once there, however, you can spend the afternoon relaxing and swimming in the pools. Afterward, transfer back to Lanquín, where you'll overnight.

Distance: 43 miles (69 km)
Ascent: 2,625 feet (800 m), descent: 5,250 feet (1,600 m)

Day 14: Transfer to Antigua, Explore

Partake in some souvenir shopping in Antigua before dinner
Get an early start to make it back to Antigua by mid-afternoon. This scenic six-hour drive passes through central Guatemala's highlands, and you'll break up the trip by stopping for breakfast en route. Back in Antigua, you can do some shopping at the Mercado, the colorful municipal market where vendors sell handcrafted goods, garments, textiles, and a variety of other items. In the evening, perhaps head out to a nice restaurant to celebrate the successful completion of your challenging adventure.

Day 15: Depart Guatemala

Until next time, Guatemala!

The time has come to put the bike away and plan the next adventure! At the appointed hour, a driver will pick you up for the 1.5-hour ride back to Guatemala City and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. See you on the next ride!

More Great Guatemala Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Guatemala? Check out these other Guatemala itineraries, explore different ways to spend 15 days in Guatemala, or discover the best time to visit Guatemala.


Map of Guatemala by Mountain Bike - 15 Days
Map of Guatemala by Mountain Bike - 15 Days