Guatemala Kites and Crafts

Day of the Dead kite festivals, Antigua, and Lake Atitlan
Overview

overview

There are no better locales in Guatemala -- or perhaps in all the Americas -- to meet the color and crafts of indigenous cultures and experience the blending of pre-colonial tradition with post-colonial influences than Antigua and Lake Atitlan. And there is no better way to become comfortable in these places than to stay in cozy, small, lovingly-run jewels of hotels like the two that have offered us discounted rates for this fall. Join a small group at the end of October for a trip that will encompass the Day of the Dead and the remarkable Kite Festivals that allow the souls of departed loved ones to soar home.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Antigua
    Antigua has been designated by the U.N. as a World Heritage site

    Upon arrival in Guatemala City, you will be met and transfered about an hour to the colonial city of Antigua. Nestled in a mountain valley and surrounded by evergreen forests, Antigua is one of the most idyllic destinations in the world.  With painstakingly-restored Spanish colonial architecture, manicured parks, stylish hotels, superb international cuisine, and a horizon shaped by three spectacular volcanoes, Antigua is easily one of the most charming cities in all of the Americas.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Palacio de Dona Leonor or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Kite Festival / Santiago Sacatepequez
    Vibrant kites color the sky

    On November 1 each year, Guatemala's families honor their departed loved ones during Day of the Dead festivities. Besides the traditional visit to the cemetery, Day of the Dead in Guatemala is marked with Kite Festivals and dining on Fiambre, which is made and eaten only once a year as the traditional dish of Day of the Dead.  Served cold, Fiambre contains a mix of cheese, meat, eggs, and vegetables cured in vinegar. Some recipes call for as many as 50 different ingredients.

    This morning, you will transfer to Santiago Sacatepequez, where you will walk to the cemetery to see the Kite Festival and how people traditionally celebrate the Day of the Dead. Santiago Sacatepequez holds one of the largest and most well-known festivals, with thousands of kites flown by families, locals, and religious groups to honor the dead. The elaborate kites span several feet and are constructed almost entirely of bamboo and tissue paper.  At day's end, return to your Antigua hotel for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Palacio de Dona Leonor or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Antigua
    Cobblestones, gardens, ruins, and town plazas define Antigua

    You will be met at your hotel reception by your private guide to begin your half day walking tour of Antigua. Your tour will cover the architectural and historical highlights of this colonial city with a behind-the-scenes look at some of the many ruined churches, convents, and cathedrals. Entrances are included to the Iglesia San Francisco, the Cathedral, Central Park, and La Merced Church. This tour is flexible, so if you have specific sights you wish to see, please notify your guide. (If you wish to visit other monuments, you will need to pay the entrance fees directly.) At the end of the tour, your guide can accompany you back to your hotel or take you to an afternoon destination of your choice. The afternoon is free to relax or explore.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Palacio de Dona Leonor or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Iximche / Chichicastenango
    Marvel at Iximche's imposing ruins

    This morning’s transfer is about three hours to the town of Chichicastenango, near Lake Atitlan, which is surrounded by three imposing volcanoes.  On the way, visit the famous Maya archaeology site of Iximche for a tour of this fascinating site. Towards the back of the site is a lesser-known yet extremely important Maya spiritual and ceremonial site. Here you will meet a local shaman who will perform an authentic Maya ceremony in a local Maya language. After the ceremony, enjoy a traditional lunch in a local restaurant before continuing on to Chichicastenango, where you will spend the night. Along the way, you'll ride through the central highland region and see Maya people in their traditional dress going about their daily lives -- working in the fields, collecting firewood, traveling between markets, and selling their wares.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Mayan Inn or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Lake Atitlan
    Chichi Market bustling with business

    Famous for its large craft market, Chichicastenango market is a colorful sight.  Craftsmen and villagers from all over the highlands converge on this small town to sell their wares.  It is also one of the easiest places for travelers to experience the strange way that Mayan and Catholic faiths have merged in Guatemala. Upon arrival at this famous market, you will have time to explore, including the local areas with fruit, vegetable, and everyday item vendors, and also the craft area, where you can find endless variety of beautiful textile, wooden, and ceramic crafts. You can also visit the famous St. Tomas Church, where locals come to perform Mayan rituals within the Catholic church, demonstrating the interesting way the two faiths have combined in recent times. You may want to  hike up the hill to the Pascaul Abaj ritual site to see if any local shaman are performing rituals and/or to the cemetery on the outskirts of town.  After the market, travel to nearby Reserva Natural Atitlan, a former coffee plantation that has reverted to nature and is now home to many plants and creatures, including coati, spider monkey, and more. At the end of the day, transfer to your lovely hotel on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Atitlan or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: San Juan and Santiago on the lake
    Visit Santiago's Maya God, Maximom

    Take a scenic boat ride across Lake Atitlan to visit the villages of San Juan La Laguna and Santiago. Lake Atitlan is a natural marvel like no other, 50 square miles of deep, crystal blue water surrounded by three lofty volcanoes. Formed by a volcanic cataclysm 100,000 years ago, the lake shimmers in a mountain valley, overlooked by a dozen quaint villages whose residents proudly wear traditional dress that distinguishes each town from the next. Savor the intoxicating tranquility of this unique natural wonder. Visit the women’s textile cooperative to see hand weaving and the natural dye process. Also visit the studios and homes of the celebrated naïf painters. From here, you will continue to the village of Santiago, where you will have lunch in a local hotel. Tour the village, visiting the Maya God “Maximon” and learn about the textiles, spiritualism, and beliefs of the T’zutujil Maya. Have lunch in Santiago, then return to the hotel in Atitlan for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging
    Hotel Atitlan or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Antigua / Onward
    Mayan women wear traditional huipils (embroidered blouses).

    After breakfast at your hotel, you may either be transferred directly to the airport for your flight home, or you may have some free time before your flight to relax and explore on your own. Ask us if you are interested in spending more time in Antigua, visiting the working coffee farm and museums of Mayan musical instruments and Mayan dress at Azotea, or hiking up Pacaya volcano, a one-hour drive from the city.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Oct 31-Nov 6, 2014
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$2,695
2 person rate: $2995
Single Supplement:
$650
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
7 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
4
Small, centrally located cozy hotels
Group Size:
4-10
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
1
Small, centrally located cozy hotels

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Tikal Ruins

Duration: 3 days

Tikal is the site of one of the greatest ancient Mayan ruins. Settled more than 2,500 years ago, the ancient city of Tikal is spread over six square miles with over 3,000 separate constructions. Towering temples, immense palaces, enclosed courtyards... read more

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