The Great Mayan March: Hiking Tour of Guatemala

Our Suggested Hiking Itinerary to Discover Guatemala in 14 Days

Are you an avid hiker who enjoys meeting new people and is hoping to discover Guatemala in a unique way? This trip is made for you! Discover the majestic Lake Atitlan during a 3-day hike, with local host stays. Climb the Pacaya volcano at nightfall to observe the lava flows and feel the warmth of the magma. Discover the archeological sites at sunset or in the early morning. Explore the jungle, the Caribbean coast and Guatemala’s colonial cities. An active trip that will give you an authentic vision of Guatemala!

Length of stay: 14 days

Kind: Hiking and Adventure Travel

Fix: Good Physical Condition

Countries visited: Guatemala

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Day 1 : Guatemala City

Bienvenidos a Guatemala !

Arrive at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, meet your driver and transfer to your hotel. Overnight stay at the hotel Stofella.

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Day 2 : Guatemala City

Market day in Chichicastenango:

Today travel to Chichicastenango to explore it’s famous market (Thursday and Sunday). The Kaqchikel Indians descend from surrounding villages twice a week to sell their handicrafts here. The city is transformed into a real kaleidoscope of colors and smells! The women wear the traditional huipil, representing the seasons of the Mayan calendar. In the center of the village, shamans purify the stairs of the church with incense and partake in Mayan rituals.

 

Transfer to Quetzaltenango, the main city of the Guatemalan Altiplano. Overnight stay at the hotel Modelo.

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Day 3 : Quetzaltenango

Trekking from Quetzaltenango to Lake Atitlan (3 days – 41 km):

The hike offers a wide variety of landscapes in the heart of the Sierra Madre volcanic chain. Along the way, there are spectacular valleys and a myriad of rivers that lead to the majestic Lake Atitlan, a highly emblematic site in Guatemala. This beautiful lake is nestled between 3 volcanoes at 1,600 meters above sea level. Small villages, often only accessible by boat, surround the lake. Here, discover festivals and markets rooted in local traditions.

Day 1: Quetzaltenango to Lake Atitlan

Departure at 6:00AM from the main city of the Guatemalan Altiplano by private transport to the starting point of the hike at 3,000 meters above sea level (45 minutes). The walk is pleasant, crossing forests and cornfields and appreciating the view of the volcanoes. A large lunch with local flavor (included). Descend to return to the path and continue your walk towards the community of Como Oj, which means “place of lawyers” in Maya Quiché. Afternoon of relaxation at a Temazcal (a traditional Mayan sauna). Lunch and overnight in the community (small dormitories, basic comfort).

19 kilometers hike; 6 to 7 hours (3 hours of descent, 1 hour of flat, 2 hours of descent, 30 minutes of ascent).

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Day 4 : Quetzaltenango

Overnight stay at a homestay in San Juan Laguna.

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Day 5 : San Juan la Laguna

Landing on a private lancha. Sailing the majestic Lake Atitlan to the village of Tzununa. Tuk tuk trip (included) to the Lomas Hotel in Tzununa.

Overnight stay at the hotel Lomas de Tzununa.

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Day 6 : Tzununa

Free day in Lomas de Tzununa.

The small hotel (10 rooms) is away from the tourist roads. Each room offers a breathtaking view of Lake Atitlan. Take advantage of the amenities offered by the hotel: a spa, a swimming pool with panoramic views, a local restaurant, and yoga workshops. Possibility to rent kayaks to explore the surroundings or take a swim in the lake.

Suggestions for activities in the area:

– Discovery of the Panajachel Atitlan Reserve (zip line routes, suspension bridges, a butterfly greenhouse, interpretive trails, monkey and bird watching)
– Visit the colorful village of Santa Catarina Palopo (15 minutes by taxi from Panajachel)
– Kayak or paddle board on Lake Atitlan to visit one of the Mayan villages along the lake accessible by taxi boat: San Juan, San Marcos, Santa Catarina, Santiago Atitlan…
– Guided hikes
– Paragliding

Note: Day without transport services.

 

Overnight stay at the hotel Lomas de Tzununa.

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Day 7 : Tzununa

Transfer via private lancha from Tzununa to Panajachel.

Collective shuttle from your hotel in Panajachel to your hotel in Antigua.

Available hours (optional): 9:30 AM; 12:00 PM ; 4:00 PM

End of the day free to explore the charming colonial city of Antigua.

Surrounded by 3 majestic volcanoes, this ancient capital of Central America has suffered many natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions… Yet, Antigua remains one of the most beautiful cities in Guatemala.

The city is home to more than thirty monasteries, convents and a grand cathedral in the central square. The cobblestone streets adjoin the colorful patios of the colonial houses. Stroll along the arcades of Parque Central, admiring the volcanoes Fuego, Agua and Acatenango in the distance.

Note : walking visit of the city (no vehicle required). Overnight stay at the hotel Casa del Parque.

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Day 8 : Antigua

Lava and magma at the Pacaya Volcano

Departure at 3:00 PM for the Pacaya volcano, one of the 3 active volcanoes in Guatemala. After 1 hour and 30 minutes drive, begin the ascent (3 hour hiking, 400 meters of altitude difference). The hike is accessible to most and offers beautiful views of the valley. Arrive at the base of the cone at nightfall to observe lava flows that illuminate the side of the volcano. Fumaroles are escaping from the crater for a unique show!

Descent of the giant and return to Antigua around 10:00PM.

Note: Good physical condition recommended. Possibility of horseback riding on site. A picnic and a hot drink will be served at the top. Option included : Entrance fees to volcan Pacaya. Option included : English speaking local guide

Overnight stay at the hotel Casa del Parque.

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Day 9 : Antigua

Today, meet your driver and transfer to Guatemala City Airport. National flight Guatemala – Flores (included). Sunset in Yaxha

Arrival at 12:30 at Flores airport and departure for Yaxha, meaning “green waters” in the Mayan language. Lunch (not included) near the site. The city is located on the shores of Lake Yaxha, which served to supply fresh water to the Mayan population. Walk on the marked trails of this large and rarely visited site. Don’t miss the sunset with a view of the lake from the Temple de las Manos Rojas!

Road to Tikal National Park. Transfer to your hotel for a night in the heart of the Peten jungle. Overnight stay at the hotel Jungle Lodge Tikal.

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Day 10 : Tikal

Tikal: Jewel of the Mayan world

Day dedicated to the exploration of the impressive city of Tikal, built in the 4th century BC. The impressive Mayan city reached its peak between the 3rd and 9th centuries AD.

Some 3,000 structures rise from the rain forest in a mystical atmosphere. The temple of The Great Jaguar faces the Temple of the Masks on the great square, the heart center of the city. At 65 meters high, the Snake Temple was the highest building in the new world until the 19th century.

Nature is not to be outdone, engulfing the traveler who enters the reserve. Watch for spider monkeys, pheasants, coatis, toucans and other multicolored parrots. The cries of howler monkeys can be heard for miles around. Smells of lianas and roots surprise the traveler.

In 2017, new research techniques discovered uncovered temples still buried in the jungle. Tikal has not yet finished revealing all its mysteries…

After the visit, transfer to the Flores peninsula. Option included: English speaking local guide Option included: Entrance fees to Tikal. Overnight stay at the hotel Isla de Flores. Premium Room.

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Day 11 : Livingston

Today, travel approximately 4 hours to the Rio Dulce. Start to feel the Caribbean vibes! Visit Fort San Felipe,  built in the 17th century to stop the recurrent pirate attacks and view the many sailboats that anchor here today.

Sweet Rio Dulce

Relaxing boat ride down the Río Dulce (private boat). Cross canyon and stop to swim in the hot springs. Reach the village of Livingston by boat. A large part of the of the population is of Garifuna, descended from the Black Caribs. The contrast with the rest of the country is striking!Overnight stay at the hotel Villa Caribe.

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Day 12 : Livingston

Mayan Stories at Quirigua

This morning board a boat for Puerto Barrios (40 minute sail) and then continue on to the ruins of Quirigua, an archaeological site in the valley of Motagua. Quirigua was an important and respected city during the Mayan Classic period (200 – 900 AD). The site is particularly famous for the beauty of its steles, the highest reaching 10.70 meters high and 65 tons!

Option included: private boat from Livingston to Puerto Barrios. Overnight stay at the hotel Stofella.

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Day 13 : Guatemala City

Private transfer from your hotel to Guatemala City airport.

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