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active 3 days ago

Matt Hartell

I love travel and experiencing new and different cultures. Not only do I love active travel but also sharing my 25 years of travel knowledge in Guatemala to help others create their own tailored experience.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"All of Guatemala and most of Central America. I specialize in mountain biking, bikepacking, hiking, trekking and general adventuring. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"The moment I stepped off the plane in Belize during a family trip in university I knew that travel would play an integral role in my life. A couple years after that experience I found myself yet again stepping off a plane this time in Guatemala where I have been ever since operating quality off the beaten track and adventures. "

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"Having explored Guatemala’s nooks and crannies over the past 1/4 century I have had so many unique life changing experiences which range from historic first descents of central americas tallest volcano on a mountain bike to diving with whale sharks to sharing a home cooked meal over an open fire on a earthen floor in a highland Mayan home. "

Matt is part of the following groups: Guatemala Travel Agents
Top itineraries and travel advice
Family itineraries

Recent trip reviews for Matt

Ten Days in Guatemala
Guatemala | Feb 21 - Mar 1, 2024

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Bruce H.
Santa Fe, NM | Reviewed on Mar 03, 2024
My wife and I had a great ten day trip in Guatemala. We told kimkim the kinds of things we were interested in and wanted to do (Antigua, hiking, shopping, markets, maybe a cooking class, Tikal, Lake Atitlan), and they put us in touch with Matt at Old Town Outfitters in Antigua, who helped us come up with an ideal itinerary, using local guides and drivers. We especially enjoyed our four days with guide Lucas, whose skill and knowledge and patience and joy of life and spirit of adventure... Read more

My wife and I had a great ten day trip in Guatemala. We told kimkim the kinds of things we were interested in and wanted to do (Antigua, hiking, shopping, markets, maybe a cooking class, Tikal, Lake Atitlan), and they put us in touch with Matt at Old Town Outfitters in Antigua, who helped us come up with an ideal itinerary, using local guides and drivers. We especially enjoyed our four days with guide Lucas, whose skill and knowledge and patience and joy of life and spirit of adventure captivated us. Matt was responsive to our questions and needs, and added a last-minute coffee tour that was one of the highlights. He choreographed all the details of the trip - transportation, local guides, plane tickets to Tikal, and lodging, and everything worked out perfectly. So much easier than trying to figure it all out ourselves!

Local specialist: Matt Hartell

We spent most of our time with the best guide...
Guatemala | Jan 28 - Feb 4, 2024

Helen
Helen H.
Portland, OR | Reviewed on Feb 12, 2024

We spent most of our time with the best guide ever, Lucas, who took great care of us and helped us get the most out of everything. The drivers were great and our Guide, Mario, at Tikal was very knowledgeable and interesting. Overall, a great trip in spite of landslides on the highway and illness because our guides and drivers were in the ball.

Local specialist: Matt Hartell
Matt
Matt Hartell
Local specialist in Antigua, Guatemala | Replied on Feb 16, 2024

Helen,
Thanks for the review. Iam glad that you guys had a good trip out there with us. Looking forward to working together in the future.

Colorful, beautiful Guatemala!!!
Guatemala | Jan 28 - Feb 4, 2024

Carol
Carol T.
Portland, OR | Reviewed on Feb 06, 2024
Our 8-day tour in Guatemala was wonderful. Each site we visited was beautiful, interesting, and fun. Our guide, Lukas, was patient, kind, knowledgeable, helpful, and really a fantastic person overall. The lodgings were also lovely-not fancy, but well- cared for, comfortable, and with great breakfasts! Our drivers were skilled in some difficult terrains, and all of our transitions went smoothly. Home now and smiling to think about all our great experiences! Read more

Our 8-day tour in Guatemala was wonderful. Each site we visited was beautiful, interesting, and fun. Our guide, Lukas, was patient, kind, knowledgeable, helpful, and really a fantastic person overall. The lodgings were also lovely-not fancy, but well- cared for, comfortable, and with great breakfasts! Our drivers were skilled in some difficult terrains, and all of our transitions went smoothly. Home now and smiling to think about all our great experiences!

Hotel Review
Hacienda Tijax
Fronteras

I loved this lodging. The jungle plants, the location on the Rio Dulce, the excellent restaurant. It’s beautifully designed, with interesting and comfortable dwellings. There are several activities available and the boat ride on the river is outstanding!

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Matt Hartell

Belize vacation
Belize | Jan 23 - Jan 29, 2024

Brenda
Brenda T.
Bend, OR | Reviewed on Feb 05, 2024
A bit more spendy than I expected but lots due to traveling solo. Some of the excursions were cancelled due to weather, no one’s fault. One excursion actually encompassed what a second excursion was so cancelled that…no interest in doing it twice. The hotels were great. There was some confusion about day trip stuff or taxi not being paid so I was reimbursed after the trip. The jaguar did not last as long as indicated. I was back in 3 hours and the cooking class was only about an hour. Nothing... Read more

A bit more spendy than I expected but lots due to traveling solo. Some of the excursions were cancelled due to weather, no one’s fault. One excursion actually encompassed what a second excursion was so cancelled that…no interest in doing it twice. The hotels were great. There was some confusion about day trip stuff or taxi not being paid so I was reimbursed after the trip. The jaguar did not last as long as indicated. I was back in 3 hours and the cooking class was only about an hour. Nothing about the Carifuna culture or drumming/dancing like I thought.

Hotel Reviews
Jan's Hotel
Caye Caulker

Great location. Super nice staff.

Authenticity & Character
Local operated
Location
Beachfront. Walkable
Staff
Everyone was super helpful
Cleanliness & Comfort
Mata Rocks Resort
San Pedro

Great views

Authenticity & Character
Location
Beachfront
Staff
Super helpful
Cleanliness & Comfort
The Lodge at Jaguar Reef
Hopkins

Absolutely gorgeous!

Authenticity & Character
Decor was lovely
Location
Staff
Very attentive
Cleanliness & Comfort
Spotless
Activity Reviews
Hol Chan/Shark Ray Alley - from Caye Caulker
Hol Chan/Shark Ray Alley - from Caye Caulker
Belize

Very nice. Also included Manitee and coral reef.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Very knowledgeable
Transport
Blue Hole Snorkeling Day Tour
Blue Hole Snorkeling Day Tour
Belize

This was canceled twice due to weather. Sounded great though. Only rated it to continue this survey.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Caye Caulker Manatee Experience from Ramon's Village
Caye Caulker Manatee Experience from Ramon's Village
San Pedro

It was a repeat itinerary of what I already did so I canceled it. Don’t think I was reimbursed for that one but unsure.

Garifuna Cultural Immersion and Culinary Tour
Garifuna Cultural Immersion and Culinary Tour
Hopkins Village

I just helped cook a dish which was good and fun but that was it. Only lasted about an hour.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary
Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary
Hopkins Village

Really nice but just a quick trip. Only 3 hours. Not what I expected.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Matt Hartell

Guatemala - Belize trip - Dec 2023 - MK
Guatemala | Dec 3 - Dec 28, 2023

Kurella
Kurella M.
San Jose, CA | Reviewed on Dec 31, 2023
Matt and his team did a fantastic job organizing our entire trip to Guatemala and Belize spanning four weeks. They took perfect care of every single transportation need from the time we landed in Guatemala City to the time we took off from Belize City. All the vehicles, transportation logistics and the drivers they provided were excellent, not a single glitch anywhere. Every activity that we planned was executed perfectly. All arrangements for each of the tours and activities were done... Read more

Matt and his team did a fantastic job organizing our entire trip to Guatemala and Belize spanning four weeks. They took perfect care of every single transportation need from the time we landed in Guatemala City to the time we took off from Belize City. All the vehicles, transportation logistics and the drivers they provided were excellent, not a single glitch anywhere. Every activity that we planned was executed perfectly. All arrangements for each of the tours and activities were done perfectly, with excellent guides who were very friendly and knowledgeable. Due to various situations, we had to change plans and re-arrange activities and all these changes were handled by Matt's team with great patience and efficiency. Matt assigned one of his office managers, Liceth, to handle our entire trip. Liceth is an absolute gem of a person who organized everything and made everything work like clockwork. She responded to every query and request literally 24x7 and made the entire trip perfect. Every single one of the drivers and guides provided were extremely friendly and efficient, they went out of their way to make us feel welcome and make our trip enjoyable. Matt and his entire team are the best resources we could possibly have found to help us with our trip. Absolutely a delight to work with this team and would highly recommend them. Will definitely use this team again if the opportunity arises.

Hotel Review
Acatenango Campsite

The guide for this trip, Joseus, is an absolutely wonderful person, who took care of everything including food and hike guidance. The campsite is well organized and Matt's team has everything well setup for the overnight Acatenango hike.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Matt Hartell

A little rocky
Guatemala | Nov 19 - Nov 27, 2023

N
Natalie G.
Canada | Reviewed on Nov 30, 2023
Most of our trip was absolutely amazing, Francisco was an amazing guide who took us on a bike tour of Antigua and Pacaya Volcano (I do not recommended doing the bike tour unless you are an experienced biker). Francisco even sought out last minute accommodations when we had an unexpected emergency. Lake Atitlan was also an amazing experience at Isla Verde with our guide Sebastian. It was a beautiful place, and many travellers told us that they visit once a year. Things did get a little... Read more

Most of our trip was absolutely amazing, Francisco was an amazing guide who took us on a bike tour of Antigua and Pacaya Volcano (I do not recommended doing the bike tour unless you are an experienced biker). Francisco even sought out last minute accommodations when we had an unexpected emergency.

Lake Atitlan was also an amazing experience at Isla Verde with our guide Sebastian. It was a beautiful place, and many travellers told us that they visit once a year.

Things did get a little rocky when we left Lake Atitlan, we left at the time arranged by Matt with our driver, but we missed our flight to Flores. Matt tried to make us pay for a hotel in Guatemala City as well as pay for a new plane ticket, even though each step of the trip had been planned by him and missing the flight wasn't our fault.

Once we did get to Flores, we explored Tikal which was definitely worth the flight and long car ride into the park.

My only other complaint was that some of the meals that we pre-paid for with the tour, we ended up having to pay for twice which was a pretty frustrating.

Hotel Reviews
Casa Antigua
Antigua

Room 18 was a little iffy, but the staff moved us to a new room almost right away.

Authenticity & Character
Location
All of the shops and restaurants were in walking distance.
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel Isla Verde
Santa Cruz la Laguna

Beautiful views, it's right on the lake and the restaurant was a great place with amazing food each night. Be prepared for a climb, and know that the spiders are harmless.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel Peten
Flores
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Matt Hartell

The trip was amazing. Matt help set us up wit...
Guatemala | Oct 18 - Oct 25, 2023

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Fabiola S.
Dallas, TX | Reviewed on Oct 26, 2023
The trip was amazing. Matt help set us up with great tour guides, they definitely helped make the trip much more enjoyable with their knowledge of the history in Gautemala. Highly recommend Wily from old town outfitters was great! I would say we traveled with comfort and we should have opted for luxury since we did spend 8 days there. Some hotel locations were a bit suspicious . I recommend the hike to Pacaya, the tours to lake atitlan and Tikal. I personally wouldn’t recommend the bike tour... Read more

The trip was amazing. Matt help set us up with great tour guides, they definitely helped make the trip much more enjoyable with their knowledge of the history in Gautemala. Highly recommend Wily from old town outfitters was great! I would say we traveled with comfort and we should have opted for luxury since we did spend 8 days there. Some hotel locations were a bit suspicious . I recommend the hike to Pacaya, the tours to lake atitlan and Tikal. I personally wouldn’t recommend the bike tour unless you are an avid biker! The kayaking portion is a bit tough but manageable with a partner. In all it was a great experience.

Hotel Reviews
Hotel Casa Blanca Inn
Guatemala City

Poor maintenance and plumbing. The workers weren’t very welcoming.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel Isla Verde
Santa Cruz la Laguna
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Jungle Lodge Tikal
Peten
Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel San Jorge
Antigua

Great staff and front desk. Just no fan ventilation

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Activity Reviews
Valley Ride - Bicycle Tour of Antigua's Villages, Farms, and Ruins
Valley Ride - Bicycle Tour of Antigua's Villages, Farms, and Ruins
Antigua

It was fun but it’s definitely something where you need to be an avid bike rider. You’re going through Main Streets and a lot of uphills to reach destinations

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano
Day Hike to Pacaya Volcano
Guatemala

Great hike, very beautiful hikes

Quality of Experience
Food
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Boat Tour of Lake Atitlán Villages
Boat Tour of Lake Atitlán Villages
Guatemala
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Kayaking & Hiking Lake Atitlán
Kayaking & Hiking Lake Atitlán
Guatemala
Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Explore Tikal National Park
Explore Tikal National Park
San Ignacio

I absolutely loved this experience. We went early morning at 7 to avid heavy tourism. The animals tend to get frightened by crowds of people

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Matt Hartell