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active 25 mins ago

Chris Gwinner

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 8+ 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

Lake Atitlan and volcanos in the highlands of Guatemala
Guatemala Western Mayan Highlands – 3 Days

This is Guatemalan trekking at its best. The Western Mayan Highlands Trail follows ancient trade routes that once connected the Mayan civilizations of Lake Atitlan to those of Quetzaltenango. Much of this walk is above 10,000 feet (3,000 m), providing phenomenal views of 15 different volcanoes. Watch the sunset over Lake Atitlan, and finish your hike with a dip in the Fuentes Georginas hot springs.

Watch Volcan de Fuego erupt from your campsite on Volcan de Acatenango
Multi-Sport Adventure in Guatemala - 8 Days

You're in for a week of adventure on this action-packed trip to one of Central America's lesser-known gems. Discover the rugged natural beauty of Guatemala as you hike, bike, and kayak around its most stunning attractions and charming towns. You'll camp out overnight on a volcano, go mountain biking through colorful indigenous villages, and paddle through the waters of magical Lake Atitlan.

View of Agua volcano from Antigua, Guatemala
Mayan Adventure in Guatemala - 6 Days

This trip to the heart of Central America offers fascinating historical culture, thrilling adventure, and jaw-dropping vistas. You'll fall in love with the charming colonial city of Antigua, learn about ancient Mayan civilization, and hike and bike some of Guatemala's stunning mountain volcanoes.

Overlooking Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Luxury and Mayan Culture in Guatemala - 8 Days

Immerse yourself in ancient Mayan culture while traveling in style on this 8-day trip to Guatemala. Pamper yourself in luxury hotels and see the sights from above as you fly by helicopter to some of Guatemala's best attractions. You'll bask in the beauty of magical Lake Atitlan, discover the charming colonial city of Antigua, and participate in a Mayan ceremonial ritual.

Recent trip reviews for Chris

Puerto queztal guatemala, Guatemala - Apr 2 - Apr 2, 2018

Traveler: Bryan C. - Local specialist: Chris Gwinner

Sebastian our guide on the hike up the volcano was great. Roasting marshmallows on the fresh lava rocks was fun!

Chris Gwinner, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you again for your business Bryan. It was a pleasure to have you and your family out on Pacaya Volcano with us. We hope to see you again in Guatemala one day!
Chris

Julie

Guatemala orphange, Guatemala - Mar 24 - Apr 1, 2018

Traveler: Julie L. - Local specialist: Chris Gwinner

Hello there,
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

Hello there,
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 told him my original plan was for that day which was a relaxing day at Semuc Champey. The first tour to Tikal was very good in that Edwardo was able to show me the rules of the road since he drove my car to Tikal. He was also able to speak to the Hertz rental car person when they lost my reservation. That was great!!
As for the other tours not so great. After great discussion with Chris that I thought the tours he was offering were far more expensive than others I found on different tour sites he assured me that they were better in quality. We initiated the early departure to Pacaya Volcano so that we could get back on the road to our next destination. We were not to be picked up at the hotel rather meet at his place in Antigua. We also encouraged him to find more people to go on the trip as it would be cheaper and more entertaining for us. They did find one more for the pacaya trip and apparently they left without us. We were told that his place was next to Central Parque and a map we had said it was on the corner of it. So we went to all 4 corners before we decided to head down a remote street and found it at 7:15. I tried to call Chris and no one attempted to call me as Edwardo did when our plane was delayed for Flores. So I feel that us being the original people for this tour and the fact that we had already paid deserved a call to see if we were having difficulty. If that had happened they would have found us one block away. I am not sure if Chris did not give him the number or he chose not to try it but either way it was unprofessional. At this time I chose to cancel our last trip in Pana as I did not see anyone else joined and I did not want to pay the huge price for a potentially unsatisfactory trip as well. Chris has graciously attempted to return some of the money however, I am not sure if I agree with taking the 25% off of the last trip as we cancelled in plenty of time.
I am not saying I would not recommend this site again but I certainly would have some reservations. I appreciate the return of monies but it would be better if it was a full return especially since the 2nd one was not exactly what we expected either but we were not asking for a return. Sorry this was long, but I guess I wanted to make sure you got all the information.

Best of guatemala - 8 days, Guatemala - Mar 10 - Mar 17, 2018

Traveler: Siyu W. - Local specialist: Chris Gwinner

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.

Chris Gwinner, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Siyu,
Thank you so much for your kind words, we always love passing along this feedback to our awesome guides and staff. We hope to see you again in Guatemala one day.
Chris

Emma

Mayan adventure in guatemala - 6 days, Guatemala - Feb 14 - Feb 20, 2018

Traveler: Emma L. - Local specialist: Chris Gwinner

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.

Chris Gwinner, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Emma,
Thank you so much for your feedback, great to hear that you enjoyed Guatemala so much! I will pass along your comments to our guides and we look forward to seeing you again in the future!
Chris

Mayan adventure in guatemala - 6 days, Guatemala - Feb 14 - Feb 20, 2018

Traveler: Victoria M. - Local specialist: Chris Gwinner

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

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 able to help us when our transportation fell through last minute which was invaluable. My favorite day was our tour around Lake Atitlan. Edgar is really knowledgeable and was able to answer all of our questions. He showed us the beautiful town of San Juan where we explored the women's textile co-op and did some shopping. Our last day, we took a cooking class at Guatemala Food where we made a yummy and traditional dish of Pepian with Fernando, Joaquin, Carolina, and her family. The class was a really great way to end our trip and the group was really funny.

I'm so happy we chose to use KimKim and were partnered with Old Town Outfitters to assist with our trip! Our trip to Guatemala wouldn't have been the same without them.

Chris Gwinner, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Victoria,
Thank you for the kind words, it was our pleasure to host you and Emma on the outings during your Guatemala visit. I will pass along your praise to our guides, they always appreciate hearing from our clients. Thank you again for your business and we hope to see you in Guatemala again one day!
Chris