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Country of Volcanoes and Quetzals

14 days

22 people

3150

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Kateryna Poliarska 

GROUP COORDINATOR

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14 days

01.07.2024 - 14.07.2024 

DESCRIPTION

Where are the most active volcanoes that you can admire while sipping a cocktail on the terrace of a luxury hotel?

Where can you watch the sunrise at the top of a thousand-year-old Mayan pyramid?

The most experienced adventurers roll their eyes at the word Guatemala and say “one of the best adventures of life”, “the most amazing and eventful country in Central America”!

Isn't this a reason to go there in the company of the Paganels?

Why do we go there, what do we want to find on this journey?
Guatemala means "land of trees" in the Mayan language. The number of shades of green is amazing; we will train our color perception well! Sacred ceiba and rosewood, logwood and corn tree, dozens of species of orchids. Mountain forests and mangroves, jungles and the wild countryside of Yucatan - there are more than 20 national parks in Guatemala, we will visit seven of them. But still, the most incredible green color in Guatemala does not belong to plants. The Divine Quetzal is the symbol of Guatemala. Its plumage was valued more than gold and served as decoration for Mayan rulers and Aztec emperors. We will try to find quetzals on our journey high in the mountains, in the cloud forests in the center of the country. The Guatemalan jungle is home to jaguars and tapirs, howler monkeys and long-armed koats, kinkajous and anteaters. It’s difficult to promise a meeting with jaguars, but we will remember the cries of howler monkeys for the rest of our lives.

We will enjoy the sunset over Lake Atitlan - all travel guides from Conde Nast Traveler list this lake in the top 10 most beautiful in the world. Aldous Huxley (the same one who wrote "Brave New World") compared it with Garda and Como in Italy, and the comparison was in favor of Atitlan - indeed, there are no volcanoes on Garda, there are three of them on Atitlan - San Pedro, Toliman and Atitlan . We will see how sparks from smoking vents mix with the light of stars, how fire flies into the sky and even climb one of the active volcanoes.

We will visit cities and villages where time stopped hundreds of years ago, in places that the Spanish colonialists came to only at the end of the seventeenth century, and we will find ourselves in real Mayan villages. Let's learn how to say "thank you" and "please" in one of the 23 Mayan languages used in Guatemala. The Quiche, Tzutukhil, Kaqchikel peoples - almost half of the country's population considers itself Maya, which is about 6 million people. In the mountain villages, Mayan culture intertwined with Catholic traditions in bizarre rituals and customs. We will meet a god who loves cigarettes and Coca-Cola, and if we are lucky, we will get his blessing. The Maya are famous for their textiles and colorful vision of the world - after a walk through the largest handicraft market in Central America, red and purple, as well as handbags, reboso, wallets, will fall into our collection of colors and impressions.

The great Maya of the classical period - the ancestors of the modern inhabitants of Guatemala - surprise our contemporaries with their knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, fine arts and pyramids rising above the jungle. We will meet the dawn on one of them, in Tikal, the capital of the mighty Mutul Mayan kingdom, we will see the highest Mayan steles in Quirigua, we will learn to understand their counting system.

Waterfalls and lakes, volcanoes, jungles and mountain forests, colonial towns and villages of local residents, new colors, new tastes and new dishes and smells, new fruits and the famous Guatemalan coffee (we will visit one of the best plantations), Maya and Garifuna - all this will be seen by us, tried, photographed, discussed in the company of friends - the Paganels.

Go!

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ROUTE PLAN

IN THE COST OF EXPEDITIONIT INCLUDES:

  • Airport transfers (if you arrive on the program's exact start date)

  • Bus rental along the route

  • Entrance to archaeological sites: Iximche, Copan Ruinas, Quirigua

  • Folklore performances and master classes

  • Entrance fees to Atitlan National Park

  • Boat trips on Lake Atitlan and Rio Dulce

  • Ferry from Livingston to Puerto Barrios

  • Guides - interpreters from "Paganell Travel" throughout the route

  • Local guides and support

  • Accommodation in hotels

  • Breakfasts

EXPEDITION COST DOES NOT INCLUDE:

  • Airfare from your location to Guatemala City

  • Airfare from Guatemala City to Flores ($125)

  • Cost of the Pacaya volcano trek

  • Entrance to Tikal National Park

  • Honduras border crossing cost

  • Transfer and entrance to Luna Jaguar Spa in Honduras

  • Tips for local guides and drivers

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IMPORTANT!

Due to the fact that our expeditions do not include international flights to the starting point of the program, we cannot be held responsible for changes in flight conditions by airlines or airport requirements. Since our travelers fly from many different countries and cities, we never participate in the purchase of air travel and limit ourselves exclusively to advisory services in the selection of flights. Air agents or airlines from which tickets were purchased are responsible for the purchase and technical support.

ITINERARY

Day 1
01.07.2024

We meet at Guatemala City Airport and transfer to the city of Antigua Guatemala. We gather strength, get to know each other, and rejoice in old friends.

The transfer from the airport to Antigua Guatemala takes about an hour. Our transfer will make two trips from the airport.

We stay in a comfortable colonial-style hotel just a few blocks from the historic center of Antigua Guatemala.

Day 2
02.07.2024

We wake up in the hotel and have breakfast at 8:00.

Today is an acclimatization day so that we all rest well after the flight. We will explore the city, stroll, and enjoy. Antigua Guatemala is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the world. It is located in a lush valley between three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango. Eruptions of these volcanoes turned the city into a monument to itself - after a powerful eruption of the Fuego volcano in the 18th century, the city was partially destroyed, and the capital of the Captaincy General of Guatemala decided to move to a safer location. Nevertheless, the city center has been well preserved and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Colonial houses, remnants of magnificent cathedrals - we will visit a couple of them - Santa Clara Cathedral and the Capuchin Monastery, stroll through the cobblestone streets. Antigua is a city of celebration, and we will enhance our positive impressions in great restaurants and cafes.

We will stay in a colonial hotel in the center of the town of Antigua Guatemala. Breakfast is included.

Day 3
03.07.2024

In the early morning, the group of volcano enthusiasts will embark on a trek to the Pacaya volcano. This volcano recently gained worldwide fame due to its eruption, and those who dream of roasting marshmallows on a volcano will have the opportunity to do so.

For everyone else, there will be a leisurely breakfast at the hotel at 8:00, followed by a stroll through the galleries of Antigua Guatemala.

After lunch, we will head to Lake Atitlan. Eighty-four thousand years ago, volcanic lava, ejected during a massive eruption, blocked the path of a mountain river, giving rise to Lake Atitlan, which reaches depths of up to 360 meters. We will take a relatively easy and interesting road trip to the lake with several stops along the way. These stops include a coffee farm and a fruit market in the village of Solola. If time permits, we will also visit the Mayan museum and ritual site in the ancient capital of the Kaqchikel people, the archaeological zone of Iximche.

 We will learn about coffee cultivation and meet the local farmers. Guatemalan coffee is among the best in the world, and the country ranks among the top 10 coffee exporters.

Solola Market is the largest fruit market in the region. The market is filled with the aroma of spices, the bustling of local traders, vegetables, herbs, fruits, and vibrant colors. We will arrange a fruit tasting right at the market, where you can try Guatemalan avocado and mango.

The travel time between these points is approximately an hour, with a total travel time of around three hours.

We will stay in a comfortable hotel on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

Day 4
04
.07.2024

We will wake up for breakfast at 8:00. However, for those who wish to wake up earlier, we have a special offer: you can take a dip in the hot springs that bubble up from the lake's bottom, located just 100 meters from our hotel.

Lake Atitlan is one of the most enchanting lakes in the world, celebrated by poets and travelers alike. On a sunny day, the forested volcanic cones are reflected in the dark cobalt-blue waters. Traditional villages and local farming communities dot its fertile shores, each with its own character, uniqueness, dialect, and often, distinct attire proudly worn by the residents.

After breakfast, we will depart right from the hotel's pier to explore the lakeside villages. We recommend bringing a windbreaker, as there can be a breeze on the lake. The boat rides between villages typically take about half an hour each.

In the village of Santiago de Atitlan, resides Maximon, a local god who enjoys smoking a cigarette and having a strong drink. He has a special entourage attending to him. Maximon is nothing like the saints we are accustomed to, but he is believed to help with various problems in exchange for modest (or not so modest) financial offerings.

We will have lunch at a lakeside fish restaurant and continue our journey around Lake Atitlan. Dinner will be at a restaurant in a Mayan village.

We will be staying at a hotel in the village of Santa Catarina, and breakfast is included.

Day 5
05
.07.2024

Early in the morning, those interested can embark on an exciting medium-difficulty trek to the Indian Nose, a mountain on the northwest shore of Lake Atitlan. From its 2,550-meter summit, you can watch possibly the most beautiful sunrise of your life and see Guatemala's volcanic chain.

Lunch boxes will be provided on the bus.