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.
Arrival to La Aurora International Airport and transport to hotel. Introductory dinner in the evening to meet the other travelers and Justice Travel team, with a discussion with journalist from Nomada to understand the current situation in the country and the goals of the trip.
Hotel: Hotel Barcelo, on the famous La Reforma boulevard
Guatemala City to Panajchel
Visit to Casa de la Memoria (House of Memory) to learn about the history of the civil war in Guatemala. Lunch with UNAMG, leading Guatemalan feminist organization, to discuss the legacy of the war in relation to women’s rights today.
Afternoon departure to Lake Atitlan (4 hrs). Along the way, visit with CCDA, a radical fair trade coffee cooperative in the highlands near the lake. Evening arrival to Panajachel.
Hotel: Porta Hotel del Lago, Panajachel
Aldous Huxley described Atitlan as “Lake Como with the additional embellishment of several immense volcanoes”. Today we’ll tour the lake by boat, along the way visiting the traditional ‘saint’ Maximon in Santiago, learning about weaving and medicinal cooperatives in San Juan, and strolling through the painted town of Santa Catarina Palopo.
Hotel: Porta Hotel del Lago
Chichicastenango and Antigua
Morning visit to the famous traditional market of Chichicastenango (1.5 hrs) to learn about traditional clothing and fabric and have the opportunity to do some shopping. After lunch, travel to Antigua, one of the most beautiful colonial cities in Latin America. We will meet the inspiring human rights defenders from UDEFEGUA at Caoba Farms over a farm to table dinner.
Hotel: El Soleil, Antigua
Cultural walking tour in the morning, visiting the various colonial ruins around town, enjoying the view from Cerro de la Cruz and exploring the local market. Open afternoon, with options including a coffee tour at Finca Azotea, a visit to a local NGO, hiking the active Pacaya volcano, or a cooking class at La Tortilla cooking school.
Hotel: El Soleil
Antigua to Livingston
Drive along the Motagua River to the Caribbean, stopping at midday to tour the entrancing Quirigua Mayan ruins, a UNESCO Heritage site full of carved stone stelae.
Arrival to Puerto Barrios on the Caribbean coast in the afternoon, and short transfer by boat to Livingston, the capital of Garifuna culture. Dinner and music on the water!
Hotel: Villa Caribe in the center of Livingston, a block from the beach
Livingston & Rio Dulce
In the morning, visit Playa Blanca and the Siete Altares waterfalls. After lunch in Livingston, a magical boat ride up to Rio Dulce (‘Sweet River’) through a paradise of old-wood forests and howler monkeys and past a colonial Spanish fort.
Hotel: Mansion del Rio in Rio Dulce, near the San Felipe de Lara Castle
El Estoy and El Remate
Travel to El Estor in the morning to meet with the Abuelas of Sepur Zarco and our partners Mujeres Transformando el Mundo. We’ll spend most of the day with them, learning about their inspiring fight to win justice for the human rights abuses committed during the civil war.
In the afternoon we’ll head north to El Remate.
Hotel: Camino Real, in the Cerro Cahuí Protected Area on Lake Petén Itzá
In the morning we’ll visit with the Nuevo Horizonte (New Horizon) cooperative and model village, created by former guerrilla fighters who during the war spent decades hiding in the surrounding jungle.
Open afternoon in nearby Flores, with options including a boat trip to a museum on a small island, the zoo, a kayak rental, or just a stroll around this quaint town.
Hotel: Camino Real
Today we visit Tikal, sprawling citadel of the Mayan empire. Recent archaeological finds have demonstrated the immense complexity of their civilization, validating efforts of today’s indigenous communities to reclaim their heritage.
In the evening, a flight back to Guatemala City.
Hotel: Hotel Barcelo
We’ll have breakfast with a Guatemalan journalist and human rights advocate, and then visit the Police Archives, key site in the movement towards accountability for crimes committed during the war.
In the evening we will all sit together for a closing dinner. This is an opportunity to discuss everything we’ve experienced and learned, and build an action plan for you and your fellow travelers to become ambassadors for our partners in your own countries and your own communities.
Hotel: Hotel Barcelo
Departure from Guatemala City
Ask your friends whether they want to join you on this meaningful adventure.
Our expert Country Representative will accompany you throughout the tour
All 4- and 5-star hotels
Certified bilingual tour guide
All breakfasts and some lunches and dinners included
All ground transportation in country, including airport pickup and drop-off. One in-country flight from Flores to Guatemala City.
You must purchase your international flights separately
You must purchase travel insurance separately
October 29, 2018
November 9, 2018
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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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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