This 10-day adventure will take you off the beaten path to some of Guatemala's spectacular lesser-known wonders. Enjoy several fascinating workshops in Guatemala City and visit the Maya ruins at Tikal National Park, then head to Huehuetenango for horseback riding or a cenote tour. Move on to Quetzaltenango, where you'll explore traditional villages and visit a hot spring. Next, participate in a Maya spiritual ceremony at Lake Atitlán, before finishing your journey in historic Antigua.


  • Explore scenic cenotes (pools) in Huehuetenango
  • Relax in rainforest surrounds at Fuentes Georginas hot springs
  • Learn about Maya traditions as you participate in a spiritual ceremony
  • Ride an ATV up the slopes of the Pacaya volcano

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Guatemala City, Chicken Bus Workshop & Maya Culinary Class Guatemala City
Day 2 Day Trip to Tikal National Park Guatemala City
Day 3 Transfer to Huehuetenango, Optional Horseback Riding or Cenote Tour Huehuetenango
Day 4 Explore San Francisco El Alto Huehuetenango
Day 5 Transfer to Quetzaltenango, Tour Villages & Hot Springs Quetzaltenango
Day 6 Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Spiritual Maya Ceremony Lake Atitlán
Day 7 Explore the Villages Around Lake Atitlán by Boat & Visit the Sacred Caves Lake Atitlán
Day 8 Transfer to Antigua, Visit Chichicastenango Maya Market Antigua
Day 9 Free Day in Antigua, Optional ATV Tour Antigua
Day 10 Depart Guatemala City  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Guatemala City, Chicken Bus Workshop & Maya Culinary Class

Chicken bus in Guatemala
Learn about Guatemala's colorful "chicken buses"
Welcome to Guatemala! Upon arrival at Guatemala City's airport, meet your driver and transfer to your hotel. Take some time to settle in, then head out for some fun activities. First, participate in a 2.5-hour workshop where you'll learn about the history of traditional "chicken buses" in Guatemala, and enjoy an exciting test drive. These repurposed US school buses arrive in the country painted the standard yellow. Then locals deck them out, painting them in bright colors and personalizing them according to their culture. They're even souped up to travel at high speeds on mountain roads. 

In the evening, prepare dinner with a renowned chef specializing in Maya culinary fusion. During the class, the cooking expert will reveal Guatemala's ancient Maya roots, sharing ancestral knowledge about the ingredients' benefits for the mind, body, and soul. For the Maya, food was a source of nourishment and a way to prevent illnesses and treat psychological problems. Menus vary according to the season, but they will always include pepián (a traditional spiced stew made with meat, vegetables, and fruit), jocón de pollo (chicken cooked in a tomatillo and cilantro sauce), and a vegetarian dish. 

Day 2: Day Trip to Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park
See the towering Maya pyramids of Tikal National Park

Take a short domestic flight to Flores in northern Guatemala this morning. When you arrive, transfer to UNESCO-listed Tikal National Park, a protected area of about 222 square miles (576 sq km). Dating back to around 400 BCE, Tikal was a powerhouse during the Maya Classic Period, then gradually succumbed to a ruined state until it was unearthed and excavated in the 20th century. Rising out of the dense jungle, the looming temples demonstrate the might of the ancient Maya civilization. Many animal species can be found here, including howler monkeys, spider monkeys, toucans, and parakeets.

Your tour guide will accompany you as you explore the park, filling you in on the area's history and biodiversity, and answering any questions you may have. If you have extra time when the tour is finished, enjoy a wander through the colorful town of Flores, located on an island in the middle of Lake Petén Itzá. Then, return to the airport and fly back to Guatemala City for the next leg of your adventure.  

Day 3: Transfer to Huehuetenango, Optional Horseback Riding or Cenote Tour

Sunset view of Huehuetenango
Sunset views over the Huehuetenango region

Today, you'll transfer to Huehuetenango, a city surrounded by mountains in the highlands of western Guatemala. The scenic drive there takes about 5.5 hours. Once you arrive, settle into your accommodation and spend a relaxed day exploring on your own, with your guide at your disposal to help with anything you might need. You can also choose from several outdoor activities to enjoy. For example, you could visit the sparkling blue cenotes (reservoirs) of Candelaría, which are considered sacred by the local population. 

You could also take a trip to El Cimarrón, a spectacular giant hole in the ground with a depth of about 656 feet (200 m) and a diameter of 558 feet (170 m). The forest that lines the bottom of the hole is fed by a stream that may be a branch of the lakes of Monte Bello, located a few miles away. This forest is a refuge for several species of birds and, according to residents of nearby communities, it is also inhabited by wild animals. Or, if you'd prefer, opt for an atmospheric horseback ride through the heart of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes mountains, accompanied by a guide. 

Day 4: Explore San Francisco El Alto

Guatemalan "worry dolls"
Traditional Guatemalan "worry dolls" are sold in San Francisco El Alto

Spend today exploring Huehuetenango at your leisure. One interesting activity you can enjoy is a visit to San Francisco El Alto, a municipality in the Totonicapán Department. This town is known for its high altitude, being 8,629 feet (2,630 m) above sea level. Its colorful market is considered the largest of its kind in the country and attracts thousands of buyers from the region, as well as domestic and foreign tourists. Locals recommend taking at least six hours to explore the market, due to its wide diversity of products. 

San Francisco El Alto is also home to an imposing Catholic church, with murals and altarpieces dating from the 16th century. The town is located in a cloud forest area and features a rather chilly climate, with temperatures ranging between 45-64°F (7-18°C) during the day, and below 28°F (-2°C) at dawn.
Plan your trip to Guatemala
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Transfer to Quetzaltenango, Tour Villages & Hot Springs

Views of Quetzaltenango
Views over the western highlands of Quetzaltenango

Begin your day with a 2.5-hour transfer to the city of Quetzaltenango, which is also known by its Maya name, "Xela." Settle into your accommodation, then head out for a tour of the traditional villages in this area. Start in Almolonga, which locals call the "Garden of the Americas" thanks to its many vegetable farms. Most of the vegetables here are grown on small family plots, with plenty of fresh produce available throughout the year.

Next, head to Zunil, a beautiful small town located approximately 6,808 feet (2,075 m) above sea level. The population of Zunil is 100% Indigenous, with inhabitants speaking both K'iche and Spanish. While here, learn how fabric is produced in this region and see a shrine to San Simón, also known as Maximón. Enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside, then head to the Fuentes Georginas natural hot springs, which are surrounded by primary rainforests. Bring a towel and bathing suit to relax in the healing waters.

Day 6: Transfer to Lake Atitlán, Spiritual Maya Ceremony

Lake Atitlán
Guatemala's famous Lake Atitlán is surrounded by towering volcanoes
Enjoy a scenic drive to enchanting Lake Atitlán, one of Guatemala's main attractions, which is surrounded by volcanoes and is 3.5 hours away from Quetzaltenango. Once you've arrived and settled in, spend the evening participating in a 2.5-hour traditional Maya fire ceremony.

A local guide will explain the significance of this experience and prepare you for the event, which is led by a local spiritual guide known as El Ajq'ij. You'll participate with candles, which are an important part of this ceremony and meditation that serves as a way to align your energy with the cosmos. The Maya have been practicing such ceremonies for over 5,000 years. 

Day 7: Explore the Villages Around Lake Atitlán by Boat & Visit the Sacred Caves

A village on the shore of Lake Atitlan
Explore the small villages located on the shores of Lake Atitlán

A boat will pick you up from your hotel's dock today as you kick off your guided tour of the villages around Lake Atitlán. Start in San Juan La Laguna, a tiny village (pueblito) which is home to cooperatives that produce traditional textiles, paintings, and weavings. San Juan La Laguna also produces cotton, and artisans here use the artisanal Maya process of yarn dyeing with natural ingredients. In addition, you'll visit an apiary and a painting workshop, and will hike to the viewpoint of El Mirador de San Juan, a place decorated with colorful paintings made by local artists.

Next, visit the town of Santiago Atitlán, which is known for its association with the syncretic deity Maximón, and is also home to the Cojolya Weaving Center and Museum. This museum shows the history, tradition, and process of backstrap-loom weaving and the evolution of the traditional costume of the Tz'utujil, the town's Indigenous people. In the evening, you'll experience an important Maya fire purification ceremony in the most holy location on Lake Atitlán: the Sacred Caves. Highland tribes travel for hours to visit these caves, and you will feel their energy and power as soon as you approach.

Day 8: Transfer to Antigua, Visit Chichicastenango Maya Market

Maya women at Chichicastenango Market
Maya women at Chichicastenango Market

Make your way to Antigua today, a journey of about three hours, stopping on the way to visit Chichicastenango. Chichicastenango (local refers to it as "Chichi") is an Indigenous town in the Guatemalan highlands and is home to one of the largest markets in Central America, which was established before the Spanish arrival. Its primary purpose is to serve locals who come from far and wide to buy and sell products. Browse through the market, where vendors sell everything from handicrafts and textiles to fresh produce and street food, and visit an artisanal mask factory.

You also won't want to miss 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). Besides sightseeing and sampling typical foods, like Guatemalan bananas and pan de muerto (bread of the dead), you'll also visit a local textile factory to see the process of making the traditional outfits of the region. Following this, you'll attend a traditional dance performance, and then continue to your hotel in Antigua.

Day 9: Free Day in Antigua, Optional ATV Tour

Antigua's famous Arch Street
See colonial landmarks like Antigua's famous Arch Street

Spend today exploring Antigua's colorful, historic streets on your own. Keep an eye out for the town's many fascinating Spanish colonial buildings, such as the Baroque La Merced church. If you're in the mood for a more adventurous day, you could also opt for an ATV excursion on the slopes of the Pacaya volcano. Guatemala is home to more than 37 volcanoes, three of which are currently active. Due to its location at 8,000 feet (2,438 m) above sea level, Pacaya is an ideal spot if you're looking for an easy ascent with epic views.

First, ride your ATV from the town of San Vicente Pacaya to one of the volcano's summits, close to an impressive petrified lava field. Then, hike from the 4WD parking area to the volcano's peak, which takes around 20 minutes. Once you arrive at the top, you'll be rewarded with a stunning panorama of three other volcanoes. 

Day 10: Depart Guatemala City

Guatemala City
Wave a final goodbye to Guatemala City
Say goodbye to Guatemala today! At the appropriate time, your driver will pick you up and take you to Guatemala City's international airport, a journey of 25 miles (40 km) which takes approximately one hour. Have a safe and comfortable journey home!

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Map of Hidden Delights of Guatemala: Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango & Lake Atitlán - 10 Days
Map of Hidden Delights of Guatemala: Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango & Lake Atitlán - 10 Days