OVERVIEW

Solos Only

Featuring the annual spectacle of The Day of the Dead, with the kite festival.

Guatemala is a feast for the eyes and a mystery to the soul; drenched in rich traditions, a natural beauty famed for its imposing volcanoes and a fascinating history. The colours of Guatemala will captivate you and the mystery of their ancient Mayan temples will astound. Guatemala is no make-believe tourist destination. Rituals are not performed for show; locals do not dress in traditional costume to satisfy the tourist. This is simply part of everyday Guatemala life. 

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PACKAGE DETAILS
  • Ages:
    40+
  • Duration:
    8 Days
  • Status:
    Early preview
  • Region:
    North America
  • Destinations:
    Guatemala
  • Travel Style:
    Discovery
  • Accommodation:
    Quality hotels
  • Prices from:
    DUE OUT 28NOV 19
  • Transport:
    Minivan
  • Pace:
    3
  • Max Group Size:
    12
REVIEWS

'I would highly recommend a holiday with Encounter Travel. My trip was well organised and the co-ordinator was fun and helpful and full of energy. I met some great people of all walks of life. There is a good mix of organised activities and free time. I had a blast.'

Linda, Victoria

'Thank you for your organisation of a great holiday. As a first time traveller with Encounter, I didn't know what to expect. The Red Centre is indescribably beautiful and should be on every Australians' bucket list. We saw every sensational attraction in just the right order - each new experience was more incredible than the last. Thank you for recruiting such a great group of people for my travelling companions. The hotels were clean and very comfortable and it was a pleasure to be transported across such an amazing landscape so comfortably. I learnt so much about our wonderful country and wished I had done such a trip years earlier.'

Sarah, 52 years, Sydney, Australia
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INCLUSIONS

 

ACCOMMODATION & MEALS

  • 7 nights, superior hotel stays
  • 7 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 2 dinners 

SIGHTSEEING & GUIDES

  • Festival 'The Day of The Dead'
  • All other sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • English-speaking locally based tour director 

TRAVEL

  • Private touring vehicle with air conditioning 

ADDITIONAL SERVICES

  • Porterage in and out of hotels included where available
  • Local taxes
  • Small group, not more than 14 travellers

Departure Dates for this tour

Departure
Status
Price from
Get a quote
31OCT - 7NOV 2020
Early preview
Due out 28NOV
REQUEST QUOTE

Trip Code: guate20-10

Itinerary

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Discover the colonial charm of Antigua, Guatemala – an UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Experience the annual Day of the Dead Kite Festival
  • Visit local towns around Antigua
  • Take a coffee tour with DLG charity, supporting small independent coffee producers
  • Visit the important Maya site of Iximché
  • Visit the local villages of Lago Atitlán (Lake Atitlan) where Maya culture continues to influence day to day to life
  • Enjoy taking in the vivid colours of Guatemala with many villagers still wearing traditional dress
  • Find the house of the Maya God, Maximon
  • Enjoy the serenity of Lago Atitlán
  • Easy going pace with 2 and 3 night stays
  • Take in Antigua at your own pace with a day at your leisure
  • Option to extend your stay with a visit to the ruins of Tikal
  • A small group experience with a maximum of 14 travellers

DAY 1
Arrive to Guatemala

Bienvenido a Guatemala!  Your Guatemala discovery starts in La Antigua, Guatemala - one of the most idyllic towns, with painstakingly restored Spanish colonial architecture, a central plaza, rich cultural heritage and the outstanding horizon shaped by three spectacular volcanoes. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, with its architecture, culture and unique setting, Antigua, quite simply, is the most charming city in all the Americas.

Nestled in a mountain valley and surrounded by evergreen forests, Antigua retains the aura of the 17th century capital that it was, while blending modern amenities that make it an internationally appealing getaway. Walking along cobblestone streets, you'll find art galleries, fascinating museums and shops with the contrast of traditional markets packed to the rafters with locally made textiles and woodcrafts.

 If arriving around lunch, your guide will escort you to a local spot for lunch. Touring commences mid-afternoon with a walking tour of Antigua. This tour explores this colonial city's cultural, architectural, and social history with a behind-the-scenes look at some of Antigua's ornately decorated churches, Spanish colonial-era ruins, and the tomb of the first Guatemalan saint. Visits include entry to the Cathedral of San Jose, the San Francisco el Grande and La Merced churches.

This evening, join together for a welcome dinner at a nearby local restaurant serving traditional Guatemalan cuisine.

Meals:  Dinner

SNAPSHOT – WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Guide escort for lunchtime
  • Afternoon walking tour of Antigua
  • A group welcome dinner at a local restaurant 

DAY 2
Day of the Dead (Kite Festival)

HIGHLIGHT EXPERIENCE – ANNUAL DAY OF THE DEAD KITE FESTIVAL
First thing this morning the group transfers to Santiago Sacatepéquez where you will visit the cemetery with your guide to experience the Kite Festival and enjoy the celebration of the Day of the Dead. Santiago Sacatepéquez and Sumpango hold the largest and most well-known festivals, with thousands of kites flown by families, locals, and religious groups to honour the dead.

Day of the Dead Encounter Travel

On first of November each year, Guatemala's families honour their departed loved ones during the Day of Dead. Besides the traditional visit to the cemetery, this day is marked with kite festivals and dining on fiambre, the traditional dish of the Day of All Saints. The elaborate kites span several metres and are constructed almost entirely of bamboo and tissue paper. Fiambre, which is only made and eaten once a year, is served cold and contains a mix of cheese, meat, eggs, and vegetables cured in vinegar.

The evening is at your leisure. With many options close by to your hotel, it’s easy to find a spot for an evening meal.

Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

SNAPSHOT – WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Fully escorted day tour with group guide
  • Transfer from Antigua to Santiago Sacatepéquez
  • Kite Festival, Day of the Dead festivities
  • Transfer for lunch to local restaurant in San Lucas Sacatepéquez
  • Afternoon transfer back to the hotel in Antigua

DAY 3
Around Antigua


This morning you will be met by your guide and driver and transferred to the small town of San Miguel Escobar, just outside of Antigua. In town we will be met by a local guide from De La Gente (DLG).  DLG is a charity working to support small independent coffee producers and promotes environmentally responsible agriculture in Guatemala. This tour takes you to visit some of the families supported by this organisation where you can work side-by-side with small coffee farmers in their daily coffee processing; pick, pulp, ferment, wash, dry, trilla, sort, and grade the coffee (depending on the season), roast coffee over an open fire and grind by hand on a grindstone before sampling their handiwork. After the coffee tour guests have a simple, traditional meal in a local home. Coffee Season is November to March.

After lunch, visit a women’s working co-operative at San Andres Ceballos

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

SNAPSHOT – WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Fully escorted day touring with group guide
  • Transfer to San Miguel Escobar, at 08:00 am
  • De la Gente Coffee tour
  • Lunch with a local family
  • After lunch transfer to San Andres Ceballos
  • Women’s cooperative visit
  • End of day transfer back to Antigua

DAY 4
Antigua to Lake Atitlan

Explore well-preserved temples, ball courts, and remnants of ancient palaces of the compact but important Maya site of Iximché. A fascinating stop en route from Antigua to Lake Atitlan, Iximché once served as the capital of the Kaqchiquel Mayas. Surrounded by steep slopes and pine trees, the ceremonial centre thrived from 1470 to 1524 A.D., until Spanish conquerors declared it as their first capital in Guatemala. Modern-day shamans, chanting in a local Maya language, still use part of the site for rituals. Often incorporating fire, candles, and mysterious potions, the ceremonies can have any number of intentions, including health, fertility, protection, safe travels, or success. To participate in a ceremony, just let your guide know. It's an incredible experience and goes a long way toward better understanding traditional Maya beliefs. After the ceremony, enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant and resume the drive to Lake Atitlan, about one and a half hours driving.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

SNAPSHOT – WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Fully escorted day with group guide
  • Transfer Antigua to Iximche with Iximche Site Tour
  • Maya Ceremony
  • Lunch at local restaurant
  • Transfer to Lake Atitlan, arriving end of the day 

DAY 5
Around Lake Atitlan

After breakfast we set out to take in the best of the lakeside villages today, reaching each by boat. Although more than a dozen fascinating towns and villages overlook majestic Lake Atitlan, Santiago and San Juan La Laguna top the must-see list. In San Juan, watch indigenous weavers as they share the skills of their trade, and peruse a workshop of art naïf painters before boarding the boat for the cruise to Santiago.

After lunch we walk with your guide to find the house where the Maya God Maximon is living. Each year a different “brotherhood” has the privilege of taking care of their God so his location changes. It’s a fascinating visit. Once with Maximon you may see local shaman performing rituals for local people and if you wish you can ask your guide to help you hire the services of a shaman for you to have a personal ceremony performed.  Afterwards you can visit the church, learn about the town's vivid history and explore the market. Be sure to check out more of the distinctive textiles and primitive art, both famous from the lake basin.

As the day comes to an end, we transfer back by boat to Panajachel, to our hotel. Dinner tonight is at leisure. You can take the chance to find a local spot for dinner nearby to your hotel.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

SNAPSHOT – WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Fully escorted day with group guide
  • Boat transfer to San Juan village
  • San Juan Tour
  • Boat transfer to Santiago village
  • Lunch at local restaurant
  • Santiago village tour including the visit to the house of Maximon
  • Boat transfer return to Panajachel late afternoon 

DAY 6
Lago Atitlan.  Transfer to Antigua 

Enjoy the morning and lunch time at your leisure by The Lake. The main street of Panajachel has shops to explore, or simply enjoying strolling around this relaxed lakeside village.
Returning to Antigua by the end of the day, enjoy your next to nights of stay back in Antigua.

Meals: Breakfast 

SNAPSHOT – WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Free time at Calle Santander for shopping
  • Mid afternoon transfer to Antigua  

DAY 7
Antigua Day at Leisure. Farewell Dinner

Antigua is a town well enjoyed with a day making your own discoveries.

Meals: Breakfast, Dinner 

SNAPSHOT – WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Free day
  • Farewell dinner including marimba music and dance performance including one non alcoholic drink 

DAY 8
Departure Day

Enjoy the final hours until hotel checkout when your touring comes to an end. Or otherwise connect with the extension option to Tikal, Guatemala.

Meals: Breakfast

View Full Itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

HOTELS

Destination

Hotel Name

Nights of Stay

Antigua

Posada de Don Rodrigo Antigua

3

Panajachel (The Lake)

Posada de Don Rodrigo Panajachel

2

Antigua

Posada de Don Rodrigo Antigua

2


Hotels may be subject to change, due to circumstances outside of our control. Should this occur, a hotel of a similar standard will be provided. Where images provided of hotel rooms on our website they are indicative of the room but may not be the room of stay.

 


More About Accommodation

GETTING THERE

Arrive to: Guatemala City       
Depart from: Guatemala City 

You must hold a valid passport with a minimum of six 6 months validity from your return date to your home country. Ensure you have at least two blank pages in your passport.

See 'VISA' information in our MORE INFORMATION section below.

HOTEL CHECK IN /CHECK OUT TIMES
Consider the hotel check in time on arrival and the hotel check out time on departure.
Early check in or late check out can be requested but without payment cannot be guaranteed.

FLIGHT ITINERARY
On request we provide airfare quotes.
If joining the tour from outside Australia, it is usually more economical that you make your own flight arrangements or use a travel agent from within your country of residence.  Feel free to seek advice with us about booking your flight arrangements.

DETAILS

Read on for other key trip information that you should know before you decide on joining the group.

TRIP AVAILABILITY
If this trip seems right for you then we encourage you to book early and secure your place with a deposit.  Tour space is limited. To ensure your place, please check trip availability at your earliest convenience.

FELLOW TRAVELLERS 
You will enjoy this group experience with a maximum of 14 travellers. This is a ‘Solos Only’ tour.
You are welcome to join with a friend, but couples do not join this tour. 

THE PACE  [3 out of 5]
There are 2 and 3 night stays.  The travel distances for this itinerary are relatively short compared to many touring itineraries and it makes for easy paced touring.  Although easy paced, there are walking tours on this itinerary and you can be on foot for extended periods. Walks require walking on cobblestoned streets and uneven surfaces. You also need to be able to embark and disembark from the small boat used for transfers on the lake. 

Fit to Travel Holiday Requirements
Visit our Travel Fitness page for more information about the Tour Pace guide.

Travellers of 70 years or over will be required to return a Fit to Travel form that is completed by their doctor. 

See MORE ABOUT FITNESS in More Information section below.

ABOUT THE MEALS   
It’s regular that our trips include welcome dinners and farewell dinners for our groups. In addition, we include other group dining experiences to ensure that everyone can enjoy the benefit of travelling and dining as a group.  There’s nothing better than to share a meal with new friends and discuss the day’s adventures.

  • Breakfasts are either a buffet breakfast or American breakfasts at the hotels of stay.
  • The lunches and dinners included feature traditional Guatemalan meals.

GROUP GUIDE
This is a private group tour with a coach captain and tour director. Your tour escort is there to assist with group arrangements and to act as the liaison for all tour services.

The role of your GROUP GUIDE is to lead the group, take charge of all the trip logistics on tour, and of course, make sure the trip runs as smoothly as possible so ultimately you have the best possible experience. From time to time, as is the nature of travel, ‘hiccups’ can occur, such as unexpected delays to due to traffic congestion, unexpected weather conditions that make a change of plans necessary, and many other things that go hand in hand with travel. In these circumstances your group leader will do their utmost to make the best possible alternative plans – please be ready to accept that these situations are out of the control of anyone and trust in your group leader to assist as best as possible.

TRANSPORT
A private vehicle for all touring ground transportation is used. Up to 8 passengers a 10 seater vehicle, and from 9 to 14 passengers a 15 seater vehicle (plus a seat for the guide on either vehicle).
We use a private boat to transfer to villages across Lake Atitlan.

LUGGAGE INFORMATION AND RESTRICTIONS
Please note that the maximum luggage weight for touring may be less than the airline maximum limit.

Touring Checked Luggage Maximum Weight: 20kg
Hand Luggage Maximum Weight/Information: 7kg 

For airline luggage restrictions refer to your ticket details. If extending to take the tour to Tikal there is an internal flight and luggage restrictions may be less than 20kg.

TRAVELLER REVIEWS

'I would highly recommend a holiday with Encounter Travel. My trip was well organised and the co-ordinator was fun and helpful and full of energy. I met some great people of all walks of life. There is a good mix of organised activities and free time. I had a blast.'

Linda, Victoria

'Thank you for your organisation of a great holiday. As a first time traveller with Encounter, I didn't know what to expect. The Red Centre is indescribably beautiful and should be on every Australians' bucket list. We saw every sensational attraction in just the right order - each new experience was more incredible than the last. Thank you for recruiting such a great group of people for my travelling companions. The hotels were clean and very comfortable and it was a pleasure to be transported across such an amazing landscape so comfortably. I learnt so much about our wonderful country and wished I had done such a trip years earlier.'

Sarah, 52 years, Sydney, Australia

'Did a Red Centre solo 7 day tour absolutely fantastic, Uluru and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Kings Canyon, Palm Valley you have to see it and experience it. The coach drivers were professional, excellent knowledge and with a great sense of humor.'

David, Eschol Park, Sydne, New South Wales
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