Discover Guatemala's culture and Maya roots on this active tour from Antigua to Lake Atitlán. Bike through macadamia nut and coffee farms, visit artists' workshops, and sleep aside the peak of the Acatenango volcano. Kayak along the shores of famous Lake Atitlán and visit one of Central America's largest markets in busy Chichicastenango. End your tour with a step back in time as you wander the archaeological site at Iximché and see how Maya culture courses through present-day Guatemala.


  • Ride the colorful "chicken bus" through Antigua's villages
  • Bike and kayak around Lake Atitlán
  • Browse one of Central America's largest markets in Chichicastenango
  • Hike to and camp under the stars on Acatenango volcano

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua & Bike Tour Antigua
Day 2 Antigua Villages Bus Tour & Workshops Antigua
Day 3 Hike Pacaya Volcano Antigua
Day 4 Mountain Bike at Lake Atitlán Lake Atitlán
Day 5 Visit Chichicastenango Market & Chocolate Workshop Lake Atitlán
Day 6 Kayak & Hike at Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua Antigua
Day 7 Hike & Camp at Acatenango Volcano  Acatenango Volcano
Day 8 Acatenango Sunrise & Descent Antigua
Day 9 Iximché Archaeological Tour Antigua
Day 10 Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary


Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua & Bike Tour

Explore the historic streets of Antigua and learn about its colonial past

From Guatemala City, meet your driver at the airport for a transfer one-hour west to Antigua in time for a bike excursion of the Almolonga Valley, said to be the colonial capital, Ciudad Vieja. However, the city disappeared in 1541 when Agua Volcano triggered a mudslide—hear from your guide how the old city's location is debated. Ride south, circle the base of Agua Volcano, and arrive at an experimental macadamia nut farm in Valhalla. Then continue to San Antonio Aguas Calientes and learn about its textiles and weaving.


Return to Antigua for lunch and take the remainder of the day to explore. At City Hall Palace, recognized by its stone archways, learn how the building was once a Spanish government seat. In Central Square, see Capitan General Palace, an administrative building created as a residence for Spanish rulers in 1755. Ask your guide for a recommendation for dinner to try jocon (chicken and tomatillo stew), tamales, and pepian (chicken and pumpkin seed stew). 

Day 2: Antigua Villages Bus Tour & Workshops

Ride a "camioneta" to villages around Antigua to learn about Guatemalan culture

See more of the countryside around Antigua riding a camioneta (also known as a "chicken bus"). Pass through several villages for workshops to learn about local products and handicrafts. In a chocolate workshop, talk with five generations of a local family as they explain cocoa production. At the Loquat Museum in San Juan del Obispo, see how the fruit is used to create a fermented drink and jam and then have the pleasure of sampling them. Walk through Las Huertas, with views of Fuego and Agua volcanoes, and see a communal laundry area and other village activities.

After a full morning, get off the bus for lunch in San Antonio Aguas Calientes, where you can try a tostada with avocado and beans paired with atole (hot corn and masa drink). Visit a textile museum and see how back strap looms are used to create intricate designs. At the end of your bus tour, learn the history of buses like the one you rode in a workshop. See how repurposed school buses are decorated in bright colors and modified to navigate tight mountain roads. Head back to your Antigua hotel in the afternoon and spend the evening exploring Antigua.

Day 3: Hike Pacaya Volcano

Panoramic views from Pacaya Volcano
Hike around Pacaya Volcano in a National Park

It's an early start today, for a six-hour hiking trip to Pacaya volcano, about an hour's drive south of Antigua. Hiking through this panoramic landscape, stop for lunch at the summit and roast marshmallows using the earth's volcanic heat. Reaching 8,370 feet (2,552 m), a plume of smoke drifts from the volcano's summit, and dried lava fields surround its volcanic slopes at the base of its caldera.

Make your descent through dried lava fields, tropical forests, and farmland on the way back to Antigua on the 3.8-mile (6 km) hike. Rest at your Antigua hotel to get ready for an early wake-up to depart for Lake Atitlán tomorrow.


Day 4: Mountain Bike at Lake Atitlán

See some of Lake Atitlán's best views on a bike ride around the lakeshore

Lake Atitlán formed from a volcanic eruption about 84,000 years ago and is now one of the deepest lakes in Central America, plunging 1,118 feet (341 m). Its location at 4,921 feet (1,500 m) above sea level includes a landscape of hills, villages, and nature reserves. In the morning, head for the lake, traveling about three hours north from Antigua. Then, arrive at a trailhead and unload a mountain bike to learn about your route for the day. Start a ride on a steep country road winding through the highlands above the lake, heading downhill through towns and villages.


Stop at a lake vista for a picnic lunch for a panoramic view of the area. After lunch, continue to Panajachel. From here, continue for a transfer to your hotel in one of the villages, spending the afternoon and evening relaxing on the lakeshore.

Day 5: Visit Chichicastenango Market & Chocolate Workshop

Explore the expansive market at Chichicastenango, one of Central America's largest outdoor markets
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Chichicastenango, or "Chichi," as locals call it, about two hours north of the lake, is the site of one of the largest markets in Central America, with people traveling across Guatemala to visit it. Join the buzz on a Thursday or Sunday as you browse textiles, painted pottery, produce, and street food. Walk through the aisles with your guide to search for woven hats, scarves, figurines, and other unique items to take home with you. Try sweet pan de muerto or savory pache (potato tamale) to fuel your shopping trip, and then visit mask, textile, and chocolate factories with your guide, with time for tasting at the chocolate factory.

From the busy market, enter the calm of Iglesia de Santa Tomás, where your guide will explain the history of this 16th-century church as a former Maya temple. Learn about Guatemalan syncretism—how the church is used for chants and offerings to mark significant Maya calendar dates along with major Catholic holidays. See a traditional dance performance at the end of your tour through Chichi before returning to your Lake Atitlán hotel, where you can spend the evening watching the sunset over the lake.


Day 6: Kayake & Hike at Lake Atitlán, Transfer to Antigua

Get another view of the lake hitting the water with a kayak

Wake up to lake views and meet your guide for today's expedition. You'll start 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 go cliff jumping. Your destination is a spot between 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. Hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours to return you to your lodge. Rest in the afternoon and meet your driver to travel from Panajachel back to Antigua, where you'll spend the night.


Day 7: Hike & Camp at Acatenango Volcano 

Acatenango campsite
Sleep under the stars at Acatenango, with volcano views

Meet your hiking group at Old Town Outfitters in Antigua at 8 am to stock up on gear for a six-hour, 5-mile (8 km) hike to Acatenango volcano with an ascent of 3,600 feet (1100 m). Then travel with your group for a one-hour drive to the village of La Soledad at the volcano's slopes to reach the trailhead. Start by walking up a steep path through farmland—the same trail used by villagers to reach their crops. Then move through the volcano's microclimates; pass through an old-growth, high-alpine cloud forest (typically found on the higher slopes of many of Guatemala's tallest volcanoes) and look for exotic birds, including the resplendent quetzal.


After emerging from the cloud forest around midday, eat a picnic lunch with views of other highland volcanoes: Atitlán, Tolimán, San Pedro, Santa María, Santo Tomás, and Tajamulco. In the third part of the ascent, travel through the storm-beaten tree line of the volcano as you head for your campsite just below the tree line with views of the Antigua Valley and Fuego volcano. After setting up camp, take some time to stretch out and relax while your guide prepares dinner at 12,300 feet (3,750 m). Enjoy your meal with views of the volcano and find your way to your tent for a restful sleep.

Day 8: Acatenango Sunrise & Descent

Get up before dawn for an unforgettable view of Acatenango at sunrise

Rise early with your group to see the sunrise over Acatenango. Then start a 45-minute to one-hour trek up a gravel trail through a pine forest. Brace yourself for the steepest section of your hike, leading to the rocky, windy summit of Acatenango's peak.

At the summit, rest and see 360-degree views of the Guatemalan highlands stretching to Mexico on a clear day. Return to your camp, eat breakfast, pack everything up, and begin a three-hour descent back to La Soledad. Follow a different trail than the one you took up the peak for another scenic look at the area's microclimates. Travel with your group for about one hour by car to reach Antigua, where you'll spend the night. 

Day 9: Iximché Archaeological Tour

Iximche Ruins
Travel back in time as you tour the Iximche archaeological site

Iximche, about one hour north of Antigua in the western highlands, is a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican archaeological site that was the capital of a Maya kingdom from 1470 until 1524. In the morning, travel to the site to explore its pyramid temples, palaces, and ball courts.

Follow your guide as you learn about Iximche's history, symbols, and legends. Imagine the buildings as they were created, decorated with elaborate polychrome paintings on clay applied to adobe walls. Explore the site independently and then return to your Antigua hotel. In Antigua, visit the Paseo de Los Museos ("Museum Walk"), a tour through six museums and three art galleries in a former convent. Spend your last night in Guatemala with a final dish of pepian or tamales. 

Day 10: Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart

Spend your last morning in Antigua as you say goodbye to Guatemala 
In the morning, meet your driver for a one-hour transfer back to Guatemala City and then catch your flight home or on to your next destination. 

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Map of Guatemala Culture & Active Adventure: From Antigua to Lake Atitlán - 10 Days
Map of Guatemala Culture & Active Adventure: From Antigua to Lake Atitlán - 10 Days