On arrival in Guatemala City at La Aurora International Airport, after clearing customs and immigration, you will be met and transferred to Antigua to your boutique hotel. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the best preserved colonial cities in the Americas. It is a magical and captivating place with colonial architecture, scenic setting and crumbling ruins. Strolling through town on the cobblestone streets, you will find are art galleries, craft boutiques, coffee shops, gourmet restaurants, quaint bars and more.
After breakfast on day 2, meet your guide and transfer to a nearby coffee hacienda for a coffee tour and tasting. Antigua is one of the eight coffee growing regions in Guatemala and it is the perfect place to learn about the entire process of coffee, from bean to cup! After lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy a private guided walking tour of Antigua. Visit the breathtaking colonial monuments and find out why this city was the bustling center of Spanish colonial rule in the region. Discover the secrets of Antigua’s traditional history and art, admiring the colonial architecture of the 16th century churches, buildings, fine arts, terra-cotta ceramics, wooden sculptures and traditional weavings. Dinner is on your own and we can recommend restaurants depending on your taste (advance reservations are recommended in Antigua).
After breakfast, meet your guide and transfer to Chichicastenango (get ready for a winding road). Chichicastenango is located 140 km from Guatemala City in the Maya Highlands. It is home to what is surely the most colorful native market in the Americas. Market days are held every Sunday and Thursday, and draw not only the K’iche’ Maya of the surrounding region, but vendors from all over Guatemala, representing many of Guatemala’s linguistic groups such as Mam, Ixil and Kaqchikel. Each vendor hawks his or her products in a riotous cacophony of color, dialects, costumes, smoke, and smells. On arrival in Chichi (as the locals call it), head out with your guide into the passageways and narrow alleys of this huge market. Visit will the church, which is important and iconic monument for the indigenous and Mayan history itself, and if you’re lucky you may witness special ceremonies where indigenous beliefs and Catholicism blend. After the market tour, you’ll be transferred to your hotel at Lake Atitlan.
Kayaking & Cooking Class
With three stunning volcanoes rising above its emerald surface, Lake Atitlan is characterized by its natural beauty surrounded by gorgeous views of the volcanoes and traditional indigenous Maya villages. The famous writer Aldous Huxley considered it “the most beautiful lake in the world.”
After breakfast, meet your guide for a private boat transfer you to the village of Santa Cruz to embark on your kayak excursion on the lake. Paddle for approximately 45 minutes along picturesque peninsulas and inlets admiring the beautiful haciendas, gardens and birdlife. The views are spectacular with three stunning volcanoes, Atitlan, San Pedro, and Toliman looking down on you. After kayaking, return to Balam Ya for a private cooking class. In an interactive class, a local chef will teach you how to make a traditional Guatemalan dish. You’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch! After the cooking class, the afternoon is yours to relax in the jacuzzi and enjoy the views. Dinner is on your own tonight and if you’d like to venture into nearby Panajachel for a meal at the quirky and lively Circus Bar, please advise and we can make arrangements.
Private Village Tour | Antigua
After breakfast, your guide and boat will meet you at your hotel before you embark on a half-day private village tour. Small Maya villages line the shores of Lake Atitlan, each of these villages is named after one of the Twelve Apostles and each focuses on specific traditional handicrafts. First you visit the busy town of Santiago (St.James), this important village is home to Maximon, a pagan saint who drinks moonshine and smoke cigars. Maximon is visited every day by locals, healers and tourists asking for favors and blessings.
Continue on to San Juan la Laguna, famous for its naïf art galleries, town murals and natural dyes textiles. This town is used as a model of sustainable tourism throughout the Guatemalan Highlands. Its beauty, cleanliness and co-op craft markets set the village apart. Enjoy a lakeside lunch before the boat takes you back to your hotel. Dinner at your leisure tonight (we can arrange for a private chef in your villa upon request or make arrangements for dinner in Panajachel, at additional cost).
On day 6 transfer back to Antigua for an overnight and to explore the night life and wonderful restaurants!
After breakfast, meet your guide and transfer to Guatemala City. Guatemala City is home to four million residents and is considered the most modern and cosmopolitan city in Central America. Vibrant and fast paced, Guatemala City (or Guate as the locals called it) is a blend between the old and the new with a charismatic Latin charm. On arrival, visit the comprehensive and impressive Ixchel & Popol Vuh Museums.
The Ixchel Museum collection is made up of pieces of utilitarian and ceremonial clothing used by the indigenous since the late 14th century until today. There is also a collection from Guatemalan painter Carmen L. Pettersen who documented in great artistic detail the distinctive costumes of the various indigenous communities. The Popol Vuh Museum is a comprehensive summary of the Mundo Maya (Maya World), complete with artifacts and recreations from Maya sites throughout the region. After touring the two museums, head to the famous Zone 1, the “Old Town” for a panoramic tour of this historic and important neighborhood. Dinner is on your own tonight and you may dine at the hotel or chose one of Guatemala City’s many fine restaurants. We can make recommendations and reservations for you. Overnight at Hotel Inmaculada.
On day 8 it’s time to depart. After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to La Aurora International Airport for your flight home.
As a native South African, safaris are in Mike's blood. While he has traveled extensively throughout Africa - 12 countries and more safaris than he can count - from Morocco to Namibia (and almost every country in between), his favorite safari experience is still in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. With 20 years in the safari industry, Mike has spent decades fostering close-knit relationships with camps, lodges and guides throughout Africa. As a true safari expert, he personally vets all African Safari Company & Expeditions safari partners in Africa.
Julia's summers as a child were spent exploring her grandparent's farm in Zimbabwe, game parks throughout the region and visiting family in South Africa. These experiences shaped her more than she could have imagined, and in her early 20s she packed her bags and headed to Zambia to manage a camp in the South Luangwa Valley. Julia returned and joined her father, Mike, at African Safari Company in 2001 assisting with special projects until she came on board as the Director of Sales in 2011.
Julia has traveled countless times to Africa: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania and Morocco vetting safari lodges, meeting guides and exploring game reserves and her favorite African cities (Cape Town being her top pick!). Even after venturing to so many places, she can still easily pick her favorite African safari experiences, one being Kiba Point in the Selous National Park in Tanzania. "Incredible wildlife, amazing guides, the river, sleep outs, hot springs...it has it all!" She has also visited Ecuador and the Galapagos, Peru, the Bahamas, France, Mexico and Jamaica, and is always looking for the next opportunity to explore exotic locales. While her in-depth knowledge spans East and Southern Africa, plus Morocco, we consider her to be our resident Zambia safari expert, South Africa safari expert and Tanzania safari expert. Contact Julia to plan your custom African safari today!
Isaac joined African Safari Co. & Expeditions in 2018. He has extensive experience traveling throughout Latin America and is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. While his expertise lies in the tropical paradise of of South America, he is excited to hit the ground running in discovering Africa and scouting out the most unique, and adventurous, safari experiences.
Shannon joined the company in 2015 and has since had the incredible opportunity of visiting Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Her first trip to Kenya is where she fell in love with the people, wildlife and the soul of a safari. She now managers web design & marketing for African Safari Co. & Expeditions.
Elliot joined the African Safari Co. team, and the world, in June of 2016. He begin as our official Director of Naps and has since traveled to South Africa and Guatemala and has been promoted to Vice President of chaos. Elliot is excited to continue to grow with the company, quite literally speaking, and travel the world in search of new adventures!
Bogey has been with the African Safari Co. since 2014. While he unfortunately can not travel to Africa, for a natural fear of lions, he loves being in the office and helping to keep everyone on their toes and on time for daily walks.