- Take a guided walking tour of colonial Antigua
- Hike Acatenango and overnight at the volcano's summit
- Kayak, hike, and cycle around Lake Atlitán
- Enjoy a spa day in Antigua
|Day 1||Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua & Walking Tour||Antigua|
|Day 2||Cycle Antigua's Villages, Farms & Ruins||Antigua|
|Day 3||Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano||Antigua|
|Day 4||Transfer to Lake Atitlán & Mountain Biking||Lake Atitlán|
|Day 5||Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán||Antigua|
|Day 6||Hike Acatenango Volcano & Camp Overnight||Acatenango Volcano|
|Day 7||Sunrise on Acatenango & Descent||Antigua|
|Day 8||Spa Day at Hotel Casa Santo Domingo||Antigua|
|Day 9||Transfer to Antigua, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Transfer to Antigua & Walking Tour
Welcome to Guatemala! This Central American nation is filled with UNESCO World Heritage Sites and diverse landscapes ranging from mountains and jungles to beaches and volcanoes. For this nine-day active adventure, you'll be spending most of your time exploring the gorgeous southern highland region.
Upon arrival at the airport in the capital of Guatemala City, a driver will meet you for the one-hour ride west to Antigua. Once the capital of Guatemala, Antigua is known for the Spanish colonial Old Town around its main plaza, Parque Central. Three volcanoes also surround it, and the contrast between these imposing mountains and the city's colorful architecture is part of the reason Antigua has earned UNESCO World Heritage status.
Day 2: Cycle Antigua's Villages, Farms & Ruins
Today you'll embark on the first major outdoor adventure of the itinerary. During this half-day mountain bike tour, you'll ride around the villages, farms, and ruins of the Almolonga Valley, located just west of Antigua. It begins early in the morning when you meet your guide at the office in Antigua to pick up your bike and receive a quick safety orientation. Then you'll start the ride.
One of the main points of interest you'll visit in the valley is Ciudad Vieja. This historic city was founded as the second capital of Guatemala (the first was on the site of present-day Iximché) but was abandoned after a devastating earthquake in 1541. Today it's a quiet place with a nice plaza, a restored colonial church, and a plaque commemorating the site of the first Catholic mass in the country.
Day 3: Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano
Today, you'll trade the mountain bike for hiking boots. This morning's excursion is a guided climb up the 8,370-foot (2,552 m) Pacaya volcano, whose slopes are home to some of the most impressive volcanic landscapes in Central America. Set in its own national park, Pacaya cuts an imposing figure with a continuous plume of smoke drifting from its summit and the massive lava field at the base of its caldera.
The trip up and back takes about six hours, but horses are an option for those who'd prefer a more relaxed ascent. Upon arrival at the summit, you'll enjoy a picnic lunch amid panoramic views (you can even roast marshmallows over volcanic vents). The hike down traverses more dried lava fields before descending through tropical forests and farmland on your way back to Antigua.
Day 4: Transfer to Lake Atitlán & Mountain Biking
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
At 8 am, you'll hop in a vehicle with your cycling group and make the three-hour drive to Guatemala's most famous lake: Lake Atitlán. Upon arrival at a trailhead in the lake highlands area, you'll unload the bikes and receive safety instructions regarding the day's route as well as the surrounding terrain. Then hit the trail on a steep country road that winds through the highlands above the lake on a mostly downhill ride passing several small villages and towns.
Upon reaching the first vista overlooking Lake Atitlán, your guide will stop and prepare a picnic lunch, which you'll enjoy as you orient yourself with the villages and geography of the lake. After lunch, continue breezing down the quick and windy road to the lakeside town of Panajachel. From here, you'll continue to your hotel in a village and have the rest of the afternoon free to relax by the lakeshore.
Day 5: Kayaking & Hiking at Lake Atitlán
Wake up to views of the lake and its towering volcanoes before meeting your guide for today's five-hour 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. Hike along the shoreline and through small villages for about 1.5 hours, and eventually, the route will return you to your lodge. You'll then have the remainder of the afternoon free.
Day 6: Hike Acatenango Volcano & Camp Overnight
At 8 am, meet your hiking group at Old Town Outfitters in Antigua. Here, you'll fill up water bottles and stock up on gear. Then take a one-hour drive to the slope of Volcán Acatenango and the village of La Soledad, where the trailhead is located. The route up the volcano has four microclimates, each of which will take you about an hour to hike. You'll start by walking up a steep path through farmland, which is the same trail used by villagers to reach their crops. The first hour of hiking is a nice warm-up for your leg muscles in preparation for the rest of the journey.
The second phase of the hike passes through an old-growth, high-alpine cloud forest. This type of cloud forest is found on the higher slopes of many of Guatemala's tallest volcanoes and is home to many exotic birds, including the famous resplendent quetzal. After emerging from the cloud forest around mid-day, you'll be treated to fantastic views of the other highland volcanoes: Atitlán, Tolimán, San Pedro, Santa María, Santo Tomás, and Tajamulco. You'll have plenty of time to admire the scenery as you take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Temperate and tropical forests characterize the third part of your ascent, which leads to the storm-beaten tree line of the volcano. Your campsite is just below this tree line and offers sweeping views of the Antigua Valley and the adjacent 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 while marveling at the awe-inspiring display of Fuego volcano’s eruptions.
Day 7: Sunrise on Acatenango & Descent
Depending on weather conditions, your group will rise early, enjoy the sunrise over volcano peaks, and embark on a 45-minute/one-hour trek up a gravel trail through a pine forest. This is the steepest trail yet, and it leads to the rocky, windy summit of Acatenango's peak.
At the summit, rest and enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the Guatemalan highlands stretching all the way to Mexico. After breakfast and breaking camp, you'll begin the three-hour descent back to La Soledad. This route follows a different trail, so you can enjoy even more beautiful scenery as you descend through different microclimates. From La Soledad, you'll transfer back to Antigua and check in to your hotel.
Day 8: Spa Day at Hotel Casa Santo Domingo
With all the active adventures behind you, today is yours to relax, rejuvenate, and rehabilitate those tired muscles. To this end, you'll head over to the Hotel Casa Domingo, a boutique gem and historic property of Antigua. Here, you'll visit their world-class wellness center/spa and begin a day of relaxation. Take a rest in one of the indoor/outdoor salons, do a bit of sunbathing, relax by the pool, soak in the jacuzzi, and indulge in both wet and dry saunas. You'll even receive your own personal spa treatment designed to help rebalance the mind, body, and spirit.
Day 9: Transfer to Antigua, Depart
This morning concludes your active adventure through the highlands of Guatemala. Depending on your schedule, enjoy one last leisurely breakfast in Antigua before transferring back to Guatemala City and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Until next time!
More Great Guatemala Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Guatemala? Check out these other Guatemala itineraries, explore other ways to spend nine days in Guatemala, or learn about the best time to visit Guatemala.