Best of Guatemala - 8 Days - Apr 25 - May 5, 2019

Traveler: Jack G. - Local specialist: Chris Gwinner

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, and it was only a block or so from the main plaza. Lots of great food, wonderful old architecture, and many churches (including ruins) to see. I actually got a great photo of Fuego erupting, from the roof!

Our guide during this part of the trip was Pepian, and he was amazing. We hiked the volcano Pacaya, which was a blast. The coffee plantation bike ride and tour was more than we expected. Tomateo and his wife were was a gracious hosts. We took a boat ride across Lake Attitlan, with Isaisus (sp?) as our local, and proud, guide. We saw local art and textiles being produced. What wonderful hosts the locals were. Casa del Mundo was gorgeous, though it was a good hike to our room...but it gave us such great views! Pepian guided us on our kayak trip, and the hike back around the lake. Thanks Pepian, you were wonderful to us, and such a great diplomat for Guatemala. Danelo and Alejandro were our drivers...and we had fun being around both of them!

Next was a 3am wake up call to make a 6:30 flight to Tikal. Alejandro had our plane and park tickets ready to go, and by 9am, we were with Andres touring the amazing ruins. There is so much to see, it is almost overwhelming. We saw toucans, parrots, howler monkeys, and spider monkeys.
The facilities at Tikal are nice, but the restricted electricity (2 hours in the morning, 2 hours at night) made fans and hot water scarce. But it was fine. The howler monkey yelling at his friends right outside our window all night let us know we were in a jungle!

Fernando took us next to Las Conchas. This was a recommendation from Chris, and it was a great stop on the way to Rio Dulce. This was a bit out of our comfort zone, but Felipe, Miho, and their darling daughter, Hannah, made us right at home! Felipe's enthusiasm for the area, and his place, is catchy, and we swam in the falls. Miho cooked some of the best meals we had during visit, with a rather romantic setting. And Hannah is a special young lady, who never meets a stranger.

Fernando then took us to Rio Dulce. We stayed at Tortugal Hotel & Marina, which requires a short boat ride there. Our room was beautiful. We visited Finca el Paraiso, which was nice, but the fun we had with some extremely friendly locals was a blast. Daniel was our guide here, and Anna was our translator. The second day there we took a boat trip on Rio Dulce from Lake Izabel to Livinston. The river was calm, and the scenery was fantastic, with gorges, mangroves, and wildlife (manatees!). This was one of our favorite days of the trip.

After a long , yet scenic, drive back to Guatemala City, Carla took us on a perfect tour of Guatemala City. We visited a stunning small church named Iglesai Yurrito, which happened to be open for another event...Carla said it is only the 3rd or 4th time she has ever been in it. We loved it!
So, it is easy to see we had a great time. What a special, wonderful and beautiful country that Guatemala is. At no time did we feel unsafe, and the coordination of the trip, the quality of the guides, and the accommodations, were perfect for us. Thanks, Chris, Pepian, and the entire Old Towne team!

Chris Gwinner profile photo
Chris Gwinner, local specialist, responded to this review:

Wow Jack, thank you so much for the in-depth review and your kind words! The whole team here including the guides, drivers and more really enjoyed your enthusiasm throughout the trip and appreciate your willingness to learn about Guatemala. You will be a great ambassador for the country as I'm sure you'll share lots of great stories with your friends and family. Thank you again for your business and hopefully we'll see you back in Guatemala one day!