Pascual Abaj Ancient and Modern Maya of the Guatemala Highlands
A 4 night journey to the land of towering volcanoes, historic
colonial cities and ancient and modern Maya culture.

Women Praying Santiago Atitlan


Day 1: Your adventure begins with your flight to Guatemala City, where you'll be picked up at the airport and take a 45 minute drive to Antigua, Latin America’s premier colonial city. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a strikingly beautiful city rich in history with spectacular views of the three volcanoes that surround it. Visitors and locals alike casually congregate in the central plaza, sitting and strolling, watching the world go by.  This is one of the best and most atmospheric plazas in all of Central America. Overnight at the centrally located Posada de Don Rodrigo Hotel in Antigua.

Day 2: This morning you take a walking tour of Antigua.  Walk along the cobblestone streets, among monasteries, restored churches and haciendas of Antigua for an informative inside look at the former capital of Guatemala.  Formerly Santiago de Guatemala, Antigua was once the third most important Spanish city in the Americas. For 200 years it served as the political and economic center for all lands between Chiapas and Costa Rica. Notables buried beneath the ruins of the cathedral, where  Maya shamans burn candles, include Pedro de Alvarado, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, and an Aztec princess. In the nearby market one can find everything from brightly colored and intricately embroidered textiles to exquisitely carved jade from nearby mines. After lunch you visit Ixmiche, capital of a Late Postclassic Kaqchikel Maya kingdom from 1470-1524 AD.  When the Spanish arrived in 1524 AD it was the 2nd most powerful city in the Guatemala Highlands.  Then to spectacular Lake Atitlán where you begin your immersion into the world of the modern Maya.  Atitlán is a Nahuatl word meaning "place of water".  At an altitude of 1562 meters (4,265 feet) the shores of the lake are home to a multitude of Maya communities. Formed by water built up in a volcanic crater, its deep, crystal blue waters are contrasted by a verdant ridgeline punctuated by three spectacular volcanoes.  Novelist Aldous Huxley called Lake Atitlán "the most beautiful lake in the world".  Overnight Posada de Don Rodrigo Hotel, located on the lake in Panajachel.

Day 3: This morning you embark on a boat ride across the lake to Santiago de Atitlán. Take in expansive views of the San Pedro volcano and watch the Atitlán volcano peek out from behind its shorter neighbor, Tolimán.  Santiago Atitlán is the capital of the Tzutujil Maya nation, who consider it to be the navel of the Universe. It has the largest population of indigenous people of any town in Central America. Renowned weavers, the women in Santiago wear traditional headdresses made from long lengths of cloth wound repeatedly around the head, after the manner of some of the figures in Classic Maya art.  Winding through the narrow streets you'll visit the parish church founded over four centuries ago where there is a remarkable combination of traditional Maya and Catholic religious practices. You'll also visit the house of the local Mayan-Catholic deity, a figure called Maximón, who combines the attributes of St. Simon, Judas Iscariot, and the ancient Mayan god of merchants and learn about the unusual gifts and rituals offered by local people in hopes of bringing good luck. Overnight Posada de Don Rodrigo Hotel in Panajachel.

Day 4: (Must be Thursday or Sunday) Today you visit Chichicastenango, an important ritual center for the contemporary Maya and the most colorful native market in all the Americas. You’ll witness modern shamans who continue the spiritual practices of their ancestors at shrines on the steps of the church of Santo Tomás.  Although the rites are Mayan and not Catholic, the Catholic Church has allowed the Maya to practice religion in their own manner since the 17th century. Then you'll have time to stroll through the market, where indigenous Mayas gather biweekly to barter, buy and sell their wares.  A wonderful mix of richly colored textiles, meticulously carved wooden masks, the scent of copal incense and candles, the sounds of prayers and songs -- a truly unique experience. In the afternoon you return to Antigua. Overnight at Posada de Don Rodrigo Hotel in Antigua.

Day 5:  Private transfer to the Guatemala City airport for your departing flight.

Antigua Plaza


Lake Atitlan docks

Chichicastenango Market

Ceremony Pascual Abaj
Tour specifics:  This tour can be customized to meet your individual needs and interests.

Cost of this 4 night private tour (double occupancy):

2 people $1,210 per person
4 people $975 per person
6 people $850 per person
8 people $780 per person

Prices for Dec. 18-Jan. 6 and Easter week are slightly higher.

Tour includes:

-- 4 nights hotel and tourist taxes.
-- All ground transportation in privately chauffeured van with a/c
-- 4 breakfasts and 1 lunch per person.
-- Boat ride to Santiago Atitlan.
-- All entry and guide fees for activities listed on the itinerary.
-- The all day services of an expert licensed guide throughout the tour.

Tour does not include:  Meals not indicated above, air tickets. Contact us about best prices on air ticket prices from your departing airport.

For more information or to make a reservation contact MayaSites Travel Services:
U.S. office toll free 877-620-8715
Outside of the U.S. (1) 505-255-2279
Or e-mail us at
[email protected]

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