- Learn to make a traditional Guatemalan meal with a local chef
- Roast marshmallows on hot lava pockets at Pacaya volcano
- Kayak along the peaceful shores and blue waters of Lake Atitlán
- Shop, eat, and explore the historic Maya market of "Chichi"
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Guatemalan Cooking Class||Antigua|
|Day 2||Driving Tour of Almolonga Valley, Ciudad Vieja||Antigua|
|Day 3||Hiking & Picnic at Pacaya Volcano||Antigua|
|Day 4||Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Village Tour||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 5||Kayak & Hike at Lake Atitlán||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 6||Chichicastenango Maya Market, Spiritual Maya Ceremony||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 7||Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua, Guatemalan Cooking Class
Welcome to Guatemala! Upon your arrival at Guatemala City airport, a driver will pick you up for the one-hour transfer west to the colonial 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.
You can begin with a stroll along Antigua's cobbled streets and treat yourself to local street food like tostadas and empanadas (called dobladas in Guatemala). Be sure to stop by historical landmarks such as the Santa Catalina Arch, the ruins of the 16th-century Antigua Guatemala Cathedral, and the 18th-century Convento Santa Clara.
Later this afternoon, 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! 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 2: Driving Tour of Almolonga Valley, Ciudad Vieja
Venture beyond Antigua for a guided driving tour of the countryside today. On this half-day excursion, you'll head into the Almolonga Valley and 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.Outside of Ciudad Vieja, you'll head south and explore the various towns and villages nestled in the valley. Your guide will make plenty of stops along the way so the little ones can stretch their legs, and the adults can get photos of some of the area's historic sites and churches. Visit textile and weaving co-ops in the villages, where the kids can learn about and try their hand at weaving 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 sample some delicious macadamia nuts.
Day 3: Hiking & Picnic at Pacaya Volcano
Guatemala is home to more than 37 volcanoes, three of which are currently active. This morning, you'll take a guided hike of Pacaya, one of the region's most popular active volcanoes, located approximately 1.5 hours from Antigua. Your guide will drive you to the town of San Vicente Pacaya, where you'll begin your hike. Plan on the trek to the summit taking about two hours, and while it's a pretty straightforward route for the kids, families with smaller children may want to bring a backpack to carry them in.
Once you reach the summit, you'll be served some local snacks and beverages, including chicken and vegetables, chips, and elote corn. The kids will also have the fun option of roasting marshmallows on the hot pockets of petrified lava! After you hike back down to the base, you'll be transported back to Antigua, where you can enjoy your last evening in the town however you like.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Village Tour
Your driver will pick you up for the 2.5-hour ride west from Antigua to Lake Atitlán, the most famous lake in the country. The drive takes you along 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. 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, get better acquainted with the area with a village tour.
Take a private boat across the lake, enjoying the endless views of water meeting sky while the kids keep an eye out for birds skimming across the lake, as well as 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. See a women's weaving co-op and learn the basics of creating beautiful woven goods, and see 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 5: Kayak & Hike at Lake Atitlán
Explore the many charms of Lake Atitlán 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.
Day 6: Chichicastenango Maya Market, Spiritual Maya Ceremony
Chichicastenango, or "Chichi" as the locals call it, is a town in the Guatemalan highlands that is home to one of the largest markets in Central America. The market, which was established long before Spanish arrival, primarily serves the townspeople who come from far and wide to buy and sell products. You'll have a chance to tour the market and see some of the amazing handicrafts and textiles here, as well as loads of fresh produce and street food. Sample typical foods like pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and the kids will love trying polvorosas, a type of cookie, or sweet pastries called buñuelos.
Once you've walked (and eaten!) your way through the market, stop in at an artisan mask factory to see the artists at work and visit the nearby Iglesia de Santo Tomás. This 16th-century Roman Catholic church is built on the site of a former Maya temple and is a striking example of Guatemalan syncretism (a mix of ancient Maya religious beliefs and traditional Catholicism). You'll also browse a local textile factory to see the process of making the traditional outfits of the region.
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 and help you prepare for the event, 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: Transfer to Guatemala City, Depart
Your Guatemala adventure ends today as your driver transfers you from your hotel in Antigua to Guatemala City for your flight home. Safe travels!
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