I am passionate about adventure travel and feel very lucky to be able to share that passion with others through Old Town Outfitters.
I'm originally from Savannah, Georgia but have been living in Antigua, Guatemala for 9+ years now. I head up the team at Old Town where we strive to provide unique, high-quality trips which create rewarding experiences for our clients.
My friend and business partner, Matt Hartell, started Old Town Outfitters 20 years ago and we continue to be the leaders in Guatemalan adventure travel. Our philosophy is based around supporting the local economy via employment of local guides, promoting responsible travel, and sponsoring meaningful local NGO's.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"We specialize in adventure and experiential tours throughout Guatemala and into neighboring countries. Our main adventure sports are volcano hiking, mountain biking, sea kayaking, and rock climbing. Our local guides will take you into the mountains, jungles, beaches, and old forests of Guatemala for an unforgettable adventure.
We find that many people who visit Guatemala for the first time are surprised by the rich cultural and outdoor experiences we have to offer. That's the part of the job we enjoy the most, making you want to come back for more adventure in the future! "
How did you get involved in travel?
"Working for Delta Airlines during my college years gave me a springboard into the world of travel. I was taking off to new destinations every free moment and this confirmed my dreams of making travel the heart of my world. Both personal and professional travels have connected to me to so many good people in the world and I'm looking forward to many more of those connections.
I was on one of my Delta adventures when I first visited Guatemala and fell in love with the local culture and landscapes. The country is a beautiful playground for any adventure traveler and still continues to surprise me to this day. You'll find that it is not an uncommon story for people to visit Guatemala and be so enchanted that they return many times, sometimes relocating for good.
After a few years of guiding motorcycle tours through Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, I joined Matt at Old Town Outfitters and have been helping grow the business ever since. "
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"In my early days of living and working in Guatemala, I was always exploring the country on my motorcycle in search of new experiences to share with clients. One of these trips took me to the far northwest corner of Guatemala, near the Mexico border. Motoring along a very remote road, my front tire blew out and I all of the sudden found myself sliding across the road and into a ditch. The next 24 hours were a great example of the kindness, generosity, and hospitality that I've found among Guatemalans.
Starting with the curious locals that first ran to check on me, the local police who loaded my moto into their truck, the local nurse who patched up my cuts and bruises, and finally to the local elderly couple who took me in for the night so I could rest. That afternoon I fell asleep only to be woken by a tropical story coming through Playa Tilapa in the middle of the night. The lamina roof of their small hotel was flopping around as rain and wind were crushing this small town. As I couldn't sleep, I resigned to lighting a candle and working on my moto in the hotel lobby. Soon Ted and his wife Rosaria joined me with hot coffee and we shared stories until sunrise. It was during those hours that I realized that Ted was actually in a book I read years ago, "In Search of Captain Zero", a surfing adventure from 20 years ago. It was one of those amazing small world connections that could only happen through a combination of mishaps and adventures that traveling the world seems to always create. "
Featured trips & expertise
Discover Guatemala on this 2-week adventure with cultural, culinary, and outdoor experiences, starting in the preserved, colonial town of Antigua. Get active by climbing Pacaya Volcano, hiking and kayaking around Lake Atitlán, and exploring Rio Dulce and its Finca Paraiso hot-spring waterfall. Enjoy Guatemalan culture with visits to open-air markets, cooking classes, and Mayan craft villages, as well as exploring the Mayan palace and temple ruins in Tikal National Park.
This Guatemala hiking trip takes you to the top of Acatenango, Pacaya, and San Pedro volcanoes, following trails through dense cloud forests with panoramic views of the surrounding highlands. Enjoy the peace of nature with picnic lunches atop volcanic summits, camping under the stars, and discovering unique terrain, such as dried lava fields. When you're not hiking, you'll be perusing the UNESCO Old Town of Antigua and exploring Lake Atitlán by boat, kayak, or zip line.
This action-packed tour combines outdoor sports with the beauty of Guatemala, starting in the historic colonial city of Antigua. Trade cobbled streets for mountain bike tracks and enjoy an exhilarating day of downhill biking on the slopes of Acatenango Volcano, then summit the top of Pacaya Volcano and traverse its lava fields. End your trip kayaking the shores of Lake Atitlán and hiking through its traditional Mayan craft villages.
This 5-day trip to Guatemala starts in the old capital of Antigua, with guided walking tours and a cooking class where you'll learn to make traditional dishes with the help of regional chefs. Escape into nature and conquer the summit of Pacaya Volcano, hiking through its dried lava fields and dense forests. You'll end the trip exploring the shores of Lake Atitlán and peruse the Mayan villages with their traditional crafts, then discover the ruins at Iximché.
This action-packed two-week adventure takes you mountain biking through the breathtaking landscape of Guatemala's Highlands. Your journey starts in the former colonial capital of Antigua, where you'll set off exploring local routes and making your way west to Lake Atitlán and onward to the Cuchumatanes Mountains. Each day's ride offers a unique challenge as you discover the country's soaring volcanoes, lush cloud forests, and rich local culture.
Conquer seven incredible volcano summits on this 14-day trekking tour of Guatemala's "Ring of Fire." Setting out from the charming colonial city of Antigua, you'll scale some of the highest peaks in Central America, camp on scenic slopes, and spend your downtime soaking in hot springs, visiting Mayan ruins, and relaxing on the peaceful shores of Lake Atitlán.
Recent trip reviews for Chris
Guatemala Ring of Fire-Must Do! · Guatemala - Feb 1 - Feb 15, 2020
My team of 5 avid hikers hiked 7 volcanoes in 11 days with guides Carlos and Lucas, who went out of their way to make our trip fun, safe, exciting and full of wonderful surprises. Their passion for adventure, love for the outdoors of their country, dedication and commitment to meeting our needs and cheerful disposition made it an epic experience for us.
I am also extremely grateful to Chris Gwinner, of Old Town Outfitters (OTO), who tailored this adventure for my group. His professionalism,... read more
Best experience, book them you won't regret it! · Guatemala - Nov 21 - Nov 30, 2019
We scheduled a 9 day action packed trip with our two boys (9 and 12) and we could not have asked for a better experience! Chris was amazing in communicating and scheduling our itinerary. I gave him a list of things we wanted to do and he put together a trip plan that hit all of it and more. All of our hotel accommodations were great and food was wonderful.
Our guide Lucas and driver Benecio were so genuine, friendly and took such good care of us. Some of the highlights of our trip were our... read more
The perfect trip! · Guatemala - Oct 31 - Nov 6, 2019
The perfect trip!
Setting everything up was amazingly easy and exactly what we wanted. We lucked out by getting David as our guide- he took care of everything which let us focus on enjoying the experiences. Guatemala was beautiful, but there is no way we would have had the same great experience without Chris and David's help. We are already planning to go back because there was more to see and we ran out of time!
Guatemala · Guatemala - Jul 2 - Jul 7, 2019
Great trip! Antigua was wonderful! The hikes up Picaya and Earth Lodge in El Hato provided amazing views. Both of our guides were knowledgeable and friendly. Carlos was a walking history book and Louis was very patient with our lack of hiking experience. My only suggestion would be maybe get a better feel for the fitness of the travelers. One of the hikes was too much for one family member. Casa Antigua was a lovely hotel. The cooking class was really fun. Thanks for working with us. We felt safe throughout the trip. I highly recommend KimKim as a travel resource for Guatemala.
David's home Trip · Guatemala - Jun 8 - Jun 15, 2019
All of it was great. Each aspect was wonderful. The hike up Pacaya, the tour of Antigua, Atitlan and the lake was beautiful. The cooking class was exceptional. Thanks for a memorable trip.
Best of Guatemala - 8 Days · Guatemala - Apr 25 - May 5, 2019
My wife and I found Chris from Old Towne through KimKim. he responded before any other companies I contacted. We put a wish list of places to go/things to do, and Chris put it together. And when we had to make some choices, we followed his advice. We ended up stretching the 8 day package into 11 days. It was well worth it!
We visited Antigua, and stayed at Hotel Meson de Maria. The hotel was really beautiful, and the service was outstanding. Very clean. It had a great rooftop sitting area,... read more
Antigua to Guatemala city · Guatemala - Apr 30 - Apr 30, 2019
Great experience! Chris was helpful in every aspect of making the arrangements. The hotel I was staying at was tucked away and very hard to find but to my surprise, my driver showed up early and was waiting for me within a few feet of my doorstep. The price was a little more than I wanted to pay but for the service I received it was well worth it. Thanks again and would recommend using this company.
Multi-Sport Adventure in Guatemala - 8 Days · Guatemala - Apr 10 - Apr 18, 2019
I was very impressed with how easy it was to book my itinerary and learn about my options. Liaising with Chris was simple, quick and the information I received was concise and very accurate - I've not been so impressed with how easy and exciting it was to book a trip!
The staff at Old Town Outfitters were so easy and comfortable to be with and they ran the day and overnight tours very capably. Saes, Lucas and Marco, in particular made my experience memorable and I had much fun mountain... read more
Antigua · Guatemala - Mar 18 - Mar 18, 2019
My family really enjoyed the hike up volcano Pacaya. Our guide was thoughtful and friendly and well prepared.
Relaxed, Budget Friendly Travel · Guatemala - Feb 21 - Feb 28, 2019
Chris did a good job with planning everything. Casa del Mundo in Atitlan was a very nice hotel with amazing views, and I enjoyed visiting the different villages along the lake. Antigua was also a nice place with colorful colonial architecture, along with lots of shops and restaurants. I would definitely visit these places again.
My recommendation for anyone looking to visit the Atitlan region: pack lightly. You have to take a lancha (water taxi) to visit the villages, and your luggage gets... read more
Group departure - Multi-Sport Adventure in Guatemala - 8 Days · Guatemala - Feb 8 - Feb 16, 2019
I had a wonderful trip in Guatemala. Everything was very well planned and executed. The communication with all involved was very impressive. David our local guide was very knowledgeable. The accomodation and transport was first class. I would highly recommend this adventure.
Guatemala Trip · Guatemala - Jan 18 - Jan 21, 2019
We just got back from an amazing trip in Guatemala. Chris from Old Towne was so amazing in arranging an unforgettable experience for me and my mom despite the time constraints (we only had an extended weekend to spend in Guatemala). Chris has a thorough and very professional team to support a large variety of trips tailored to your needs. He is connected with local guides on the ground that can make your dream come true depending on what you want to concentrate on. I would definitely come... read more
Trip To Guatemala and Honduras · Guatemala - Dec 19 - Dec 31, 2018
Chris from kimkim( Old town)organized our whole trip to Guatemala. He was very helpful in planning our trip to Guatemala. In fact when one of our friends did not make it to Guatemala in time, Chris was accommodating in making changes to our schedule at last minute. We had some great drivers and guides for our whole trip, especially Oseas who took us hiking to Pacaya Volcano, Hiking and kayaking around lake Atitlan. Our guides in Antigua and Flores were helpful in telling us the history of... read more
Guatemala · Guatemala - Nov 17 - Nov 24, 2018
Overall; it was an epic trip! Definitely exceeded my expectations. I loved Semuc Champey, but the caves were my favorite part by far (it was raining so they were extra exciting). And the hike along Atitlan was absolutely breathtaking. Can’t wait to come back for Tikal! And for some bird watching. Oseas is passionate about his country & it’s beauty, so I’m glad I was able to tour it with his perspective/insight. I'm especially thankful for Chris being able to calm my Mother down when the... read more
Trip to Guatemala · Guatemala - Nov 3 - Nov 15, 2018
Five stars is not enough! We gave Chris our wish list and he delivered with an amazing trip! Two weeks to see the best of Guatemala and Copan - accompanied full time by Pepian ( quite possibly the best guide EVER! ) We climbed Pacaya with local guide/amateur botanist Monkey and toasted marshmallows over the HOT lava rocks, saw the sun rise over temple IV at Tikal, shopped till we dropped at several markets, learned how to make tortillas and Pepian Chicken in Xela with local guide David,... read more
Family Trip To Guatemal · Guatemala - Oct 20 - Oct 25, 2018
Chris was very flexible in the modifications we made to our schedule and had some on the spot great suggestions along the way.
Gutamala Active Vacation · Guatemala - Aug 5 - Aug 11, 2018
Guide - Mario - excellent - great guy, very knowledgeable about the area and culture, excellent language skills, friendly, considerate - perfect !
Operator - Chris - very professional in organizing the trip. But, I expected him to come by at the hotel after arrival to review the trip and get to know each other. Again very well organized but a bit missing that personal touch.
Trip was great:
Day 1 Antigua - excellent
Day 2 Pacaya volcano - excellent
Day 3 Lake Atitlan - lake and boat ride as... read more
Guatemala 2018 · Guatemala - Aug 4 - Aug 11, 2018
Chris and team provided my family with the best vacation we have ever shared together.
This was the first trip to Guatemala for my 2 biological children, as well as the first trip to Guatemala for my youngest daughter that we adopted from Guatemala 13 years ago. It was also our first opportunity visit with Telma, a 9 yr old girl that we sponsor from Guatemala through the organization, Unbound.
When I first reached-out to Chris, I didn't know what to expect. I had very little knowledge... read more
Guatemala · Guatemala - Jun 22 - Jun 24, 2018
Overall, the experience is good. The guides are knowledgeable, courteous, friendly; both the guides and drivers are very professional. However, even though this was a private tour, it still felt like we were on a tour group, albeit a very small group of two, with a preset agenda and timetable. The tour was lacking flexibility as we were dashing from one destination to another, spending too much time in a destination that we had no interest in (e.g. the jade shop demonstration or the visit... read more
Guatemala vulcano trip · Guatemala - Jul 27 - Jul 30, 2018
Chris and his colleagues did a great job planning our vacation in Guatemala and we had an excellent time. The visit to Pacaya Vulcano followed by the spa experience was a treat for the entire family. The white water rafting day was fun and we were happy to hear about the noble mission of Rios Guatemala (the rafting company) which is a non-profit aiming to use the money raised from organizing adventure trips to cleanup the rivers in Guatemala and educate the local communities how important... read more
Puerto Queztal Guatemala · Guatemala - Apr 2 - Apr 2, 2018
Sebastian our guide on the hike up the volcano was great. Roasting marshmallows on the fresh lava rocks was fun!
Guatemala orphange · Guatemala - Mar 24 - Apr 1, 2018
My son and I were planning a trip back to his birthplace in Guatemala as well as visiting some orphanages along the way to bring them some donations he had collected. Chris was amazing in helping me out figuring out what was doable and what was not. I truly appreciate all his help which is why I am not giving this a worse review. I also loved our tour guide Ricardo to Rio Dulce Las Canchas and the place he sent us too. However, it really was not a replacement for what I... read more
Best of Guatemala - 8 Days · Guatemala - Mar 10 - Mar 17, 2018
The whole trip was so great and beyond my expectation. Our leader Alex, was the most professional outdoor adventure leader I've met. He speaks English so well and took good care of everyone. He encouraged me a lot before our hiking to Volcano Acatenango. He made great meals for us during hiking. And he is a really nice guy with kindness and humanism. I appreciate a lot that Old Town Outfitters provided me a so comfortable and enjoyable trip. Other guides and drivers I met during the trip were also great. Luv them all.
Mayan Adventure in Guatemala - 6 Days · Guatemala - Feb 14 - Feb 20, 2018
Chris picked perfect activities for our trip. He understood our needs and customized our tour to our liking on the first try! Our guides were young and fun and made sure we got to our destinations. They were early/ontime and provided insightful stories into the Mayan culture in Guatemala. We loved each tour and the local connections each guide had which made our trip more special.
Mayan Adventure in Guatemala - 6 Days · Guatemala - Feb 14 - Feb 20, 2018
Chris, our local specialist did a phenomenal job at creating a customized itinerary on a very short turnaround when our travel plans changed right before our trip started. Chris was also really helpful in changing around our plans when there was an unexpected sickness on the trip. All of our guides were amazing. Manuel took us on a walking tour of Antigua which was a great way to start off our trip. In Monterrico, we had a really fun and relaxing afternoon kayaking with Alex. Alex was also... read more