Guatemala

Atitlán, Power and Beauty

Explore the power and the beauty of Atitlán, from a radical fair trade cooperative to innovative social projects on the shores of this awe-inspiring, volcano-ringed lake.


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Starts At
$320

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Length
3 Days




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Your Itinerary


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Tour Difficulty:

Tour Highlights

  • Immerse yourself and learn about indigenous resistance to oppression, from the civil war to modern day Guatemala
  • Take in the awe-inspiring scenery of Lake Atitlan by boat, and explore the picturesque villages along its shores 
  • Spend time at a radical, community-run fair trade cooperative, and meet inspiring young people starting innovative social projects all around the lake.
  • Don’t forget the food! Delicious Guatemalan breakfasts with platanos and queso blanco, rich coffee and chocolate, freshly made tamales, and so much more.
Day Briefing

Early morning departure from Antigua to Guatemala City. 

In the morning, a cultural walking tour of the historic city center. We will look behind the colonial façades, seeing how politics and culture have interacted over centuries in the city. Walking tour followed by an early lunch and discussion with a special guest at a traditional Guatemala restaurant. After lunch, a unique visit to the Police Archives where human rights researchers comb through millions of records to help uncover the truth about past crimes. 

In the afternoon, we drive 2.5 hours to San Lucas Toliman, on the south side of Lake Atitlán.  

Hotel: Hotel Toliman


Day Briefing

Today we spend the day with CCDA, a radical fair trade cooperative in the hills outside of San Lucas Toliman. This group was founded by former rebels, produces coffee, honey, and macadamia nuts, and remains a hotbed of political activism on this side of the lake. We will have a tour of their cooperative, including a stunning overlook of the lake, and eat lunch with some of the leaders. In the afternoon we’ll learn more about their production and agricultural techniques. Before leaving, we’ll have an opportunity to buy some of their products – great gifts for your family and friends back home!

After leaving our friends at CCDA, we’ll drive an hour around the lake to the main town of Panajachel.

Hotel: Perla Maya


Day Briefing

Today we’ll get up early to tour the lake by boat. Watching the volcanoes emerge from the early morning mist is unforgettable. Along the way we will visit the traditional ‘saint’ Maximon in Santiago, learn about weaving and medicinal cooperatives in San Juan, and stroll through the painted town of Santa Catarina Palopo. Each town has its own unique culture, each a monument to the resistance of the Tz’utujil Maya against oppression for over 500 years. This day will also be a time for reflection on what we as travelers and citizens of the world can do to support communities in resistance.

In the late afternoon we’ll drive 3 hours back to Antigua, and close our time together with a reflection session.

 


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Country Representative
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Our expert Country Representative will accompany you throughout the tour

Accomodation
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All 3- and 4-star hotels

Meals
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Two breakfasts and three lunches are included in the price.

Transportation
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Pickup from Antigua or Guatemala City, drop-off in Antigua. Full transportation throughout with modern vehicles.

Entrance Fees
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All entrances fees included

Travel insurance
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You must purchase travel insurance separately

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Departure dates

Prices displayed below are based on per person, double occupancy.

Start End Price Action
Tuesday
June 26, 2018
Antigua
Thursday
June 28, 2018
Antigua
$320
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Understand Before You Go

The strength of this small country lies not in its thirty-seven volcanoes, its towering rainforests, or its famed coffee plantations. The strength of Guatemala lies in generations of indigenous women who, having defeated colonialism and withstood a genocide, are now weaving the winds of change. From former revolutionaries breathing life into a cooperative village near the ancient Tikal ruins to grandmothers reclaiming their land and their history in the tragic Polochic Valley, these women are inspiring a new generation. For many people traveling to Guatemala is the beginning of a life-long fascination with the country and its people. Known as Central America’s most diverse country, it is mysterious and often challenging, offering landscapes and experiences that have been captivating travelers for centuries. 

History

The implementation of the peace agreement proved difficult after 36 years of civil war. Nevertheless there is a strong commitment to peace and justice within Guatemalan society: In early May 2013 former president Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity that had occurred during his rule (1982–83), one of the deadliest periods of the civil war. In September 2015 congress voted to strip former president Pérez Molina of his immunity from prosecution, paving the way for him to become the first chief executive in Guatemalan history to be put on trial while still in office. 

Read: The art of political murder (Francisco Goldman)

Watch: When mountains tremble (Pamela Yates)

 

People

Guatemala's population of 17.25 million makes it the most populous nation of Central America - and also one of the poorest health ratings in Latin America, the highest infant mortality rates, and one of the lowest life expectancy rates. In Guatemala City, elite families live much as they do in the cosmopolitan centers of wealthy countries. On the other hand, within an hour’s drive of the capital are indigenous people whose patterns of daily life reflect those of past centuries and whose communities continue to be knit together by market life. While 93% of the population speaks Spanish, there are also 21 Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala as well as two non-Mayan Amerindian languages. On your trip you will have encounters with many different ethnic groups: Look forward to dive into Chichicastenango's colourful market and admire the different typical clothing of the mayan communities at Lake Atitlan.

Read: Bitter Fruit (Stephen Schlesinger)

Watch: Ixcanul (Jairo Bustamante)

 

Culture

The evidence of Mayan culture pervades the country. Native crafts involve a variety of forms of expression, they are best represented in colourful handwoven textiles and costumes, unique to each community. Traditional dances, music, and religious rites that have survived in the more rural regions are important tourist attractions. The art of the colonial period is chiefly represented in the architecture and decor of Roman Catholic churches. One very special festival takes place on "Dia de los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) on November 1st, with a unique celebration honoring the dead with a traditional kite-flying ceremony. Join us for our fall trip to experience this unique tradition amongst thousands or Guatemalans and other tourists.

Read: Men of Maize (Miguel Angel Asturias)

Watch: La hija del puma (Monica Zak)

 

Land

Guatemala is also known as the land of Eternal Spring for its wonderful climate suitable for travel year round. The dominance of the indigenous culture distinguishes Guatemala from its Central American neighbors Mexico, Belize, El Salvador and Honduras. The country's lush valleys and jungles receive ample rainfall and warm sunlight, making for a fertile setting in which to cultivate a wide range of agricultural produce. Common crops in Guatemala include bananas, cocoa, coffee and sugar. Guatemala is mountainous and home to 37 volcanoes, including 3 active ones. These areas vary in climate, elevation, and landscape, providing dramatic contrasts between hot and humid tropical lowlands and highland peaks and valleys, which we will be experiencing during our trip throughout the country. You will be able to observe the beauty of the majestic volcanoes at Lake Atitlan while traveling by boat or observe the rich wildlife during our visit to Tikal.

Read: Guatemala: A journey through the land of the maya (Michael Shapiro)

Watch: Living on one dollar (Chris Temple)

 

Food

Guatemalan food and drinks are primarily influenced by the country's Mayan and Spanish cultures. However it also received influences from African and Caribbean cultures. Almost all dishes include some form of black beans, white rice and corn tortillas. Breakfast often combines the aforementioned elements with scrambled eggs and fried plantains and fresh fruits. Lunch and dinner also revolve around tortillas, rice and refried beans. Various additions of meats and vegetables round out the meal. Pepian is a thick meat and vegetable stew prepared in the highland town of Antigua. Traditional Guatemalan snack foods come in the form of tamales and empanadas. Guatemala is also famous for its high quality coffee, most of which is exported internationally. We will have the opportunity to visit CCDA, a coffee farmers cooperative at Lake Atitlan in order to learn more about their sustainable business model and try their excellent coffee.

Read: The history of coffee in Guatemala (Regina Wagner)

Watch: Connected by coffee (Aaron Dennis)

 

Climate

Weather in Guatemala varies significantly by altitude and climate zone. It mainly has two seasons: dry season from November to April and rainy season from May to October. 
Guatemala is a tropical country and has distinct wet and dry seasons. However, some regions are rainy all year, and others are very dry and sunny for most of the year. Temperatures vary primarily with elevations, not with seasons: On the coasts it is hot all year, while up in the mountains and highlands, it can be quite cool at night and in the early morning, before the sun heats things up. Conditions are different in the Petén, Central Highlands, and both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It is also called the land of eternal spring thanks to a pleasant temperatures of about 25C all year round. 
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Tour Operator
Justice Travel

This tour is owned and operated by Justice Travel
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Our Partners

CCDA

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Police Archives (AHPN)

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Tour Operator
Justice Travel

This tour is owned and operated by Justice Travel

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Country Representative
Denise Lorenz
Country Representative

Denise, originally from Germany, has spent the past 10 years working in International Development in Guatemala and Peru. She holds a Master`s Degree in Educational Sciences, Sociology and Spanish from the University of Mainz, Germany. She believes that you can make a real difference by empowering people through education. She loves to travel the world, learn about different cultures and meet new people. One of her biggest passions is being in the outdoors, especially skiing and rock climbing.

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