Guatemala Off the Beaten Path

Guatemala - Highlands & Markets Custom Tour

Visit Antigua, towns, villages and local markets throughout Guatemala, and Lake Atitlan for
14D/13N Starting at $3927 per person

After two full days exploring the colonial town of Antigua you will venture off-the-beaten-path with your private guide to remote towns and markets throughout the country.

You will stay in the towns of Quetzaltenango and Huehuetenango with day trips to the agricultural towns of Almolonga and Zunil, the thermal springs at Fuentes Georginas, San Andres Xecul, Sacapulas and Aguacatan. You can immerse yourself in local culture with an optional homestay in Toto. Markets include Comalapa, San Francisco, Todos Santos, Solala and the renowned Chichicastenango.


One day will be spent in the Ixil Triangle, a quiet and isolated but stunning part of Guatemala that comprises the mountain towns of Nebaj, San Juan Cotzal, and Chajul, as well as a handful of outlying hamlets, where locals still adhere to traditional ways of life. Most men are farmers, most women are weavers, and typical dress is common.

You’ll visit local churches, plazas, and markets and get a close-up look at local life. Round out the trip at Lake Atitlan. Optional excursions include visits to lakeside villages such as San Juan La Laguna and Santiago, lake kayaking, hiking Cerro de Oro, biking, canopy tour.

This trip can be booked with mid-range, superior or luxury properties, unless specified on the itinerary.


Lost World Adventures itineraries can be tailor-made according to your plans and preferences: budget, hotel selections, travel dates, optional excursions, length of trip, etc.

Day 1 : Guatemala City - Antigua

On arrival in Guatemala City, after clearing Customs and Immigration, you will be met by your local driver and guide and drive about 45 minutes to Antigua. Overnight Antigua hotel, daily breakfast included - 3 nights.

Day 2 : Antigua 

Antigua Villages Tour
You will be picked up by your private driver and transfer to some of the villages surrounding Antigua to see local life, textiles and architecture. Typically you visit San Juan del Obispo, pass Ciudad Vieja and then to San Antonio Aguas Calientes, but guests can feel free to discuss with their guide and plan as they go. Lunch is included.

Street Food Tour
Today, your private guide will take you on a tour of Antigua's street food hot spots, where you'll get to taste some of Guatemala's most authentic cuisine.

These are the places where long lines of locals are a fixture and for good reason: The food served is delicious and well-prepared. Items you might try include chuchitos (the Guatemalan take on a tamale), pupusas (cheese-filled corn tortillas), rellenitas (plantain dough that's filled with beans and then fried), and even pigs' feet.

You'll learn the cultural and historic significance of the eats on offer and will also visit Antigua's bustling market to explore the colorful array of ingredients used in Guatemalan cuisine. (Please note that this tour is for more adventurous eaters.)

Day 3 : Antigua - Fairly Traded Coffee & Iron Artisan Workshop

De La Gente (DLG) is a charity working to support small independent coffee producers and promoting environmentally responsible agriculture in Guatemala.

This tour takes guests to visit some of the families supported by this organization where they can work side-by-side with small coffee farmers in their daily coffee processing, pick, pulp, ferment, wash,dry, trilla, sort, and grade the coffee (depending on the season), roast coffee over an open fire and grind by hand on a grindstone before sampling their handiwork.

Coffee Season is Nov to Mar. This tour includes a donation to DLG and the Viaventure Foundation ( also supports this organization on an annual basis.

After the coffee tour guests have a simple, traditional meal in a local home before transferring to the village of San Juan El Obispo to meet ironwork expert Carlos. Carlos hosts visitors in his workshop, teaching the art of turning steel into a garden decoration or wall hanging in the form of critters, leaves, owls, and the like.

At the end of the trip, you'll have a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Carlos will tell the story of his family of metalworkers and how he turned this skill into an art form. He'll demonstrate the skills of his trade and teach you how to make your own iguana, butterfly or candle-holder.

Day 4 : Comalapa Market - Quetzaltenango

You will be met at your hotel by your private driver and depart for the 1-hour transfer to the town of Comalapa. On arrival you will see the famous painted mural that the school children of the town painted depicting mayor events in Guatemala's history up to the signing of the peace accords in 1996. From here you will visit some local painters who continue the tradition of paintings that the town is so famous for.

You can then visit the wonderful authentic market of Comalapa where the local people go about their daily life buying produce and goods for the rest of the week still dressed in the traditional textiles of the area.

You can also visit the small museum dedicated to the composer who wrote Guatemala's national anthem who came from Comalapa. Guests will enjoy a local lunch before heading off to the city of Quetzaltenango.

Includes private transfer, bilingual driver, entrance fees to Comalapa, donation to painters, lunch.

Overnight Quetzaltenango, daily breakfast included - 2 nights.

Day 5 : Quetzaltenango - Almolonga, Zunil & Fuentes Georginas

Today, your English-speaking driver will take you from Quetzaltenango to the small towns of Almolonga and Zunil, and the Fuentes Georginas natural hot springs. Just a ten-minute drive outside of Quetzaltenango, Almolonga is known as "the garden of Central America." It's renowned for the gorgeous carrots, radishes, cabbages, and other vegetables it produces, most of which are exported to El Salvador.

You'll visit the town's bustling produce market to check out the veggies and the local ropa típica (traditional dress), which is about as vibrantly colored as the produce on display.Your next stop will be Zunil, another agricultural town just a short drive from Almolonga.

Located in a beautiful, fertile valley flanked by mountains, Zunil is one of a handful of Guatemalan towns that still worships Maximón, an idol to whom locals offer gifts of cigarettes, alcohol, and colorful candles. His effigy is housed by a different member of the local cofradía (religious brotherhood) each year.

While in Zunil, you'll visit Maximón as well as the town's striking Catholic Church, the local cemetery, and a weaving cooperative where items like huipiles (elaborately embroidered women's tunics) are made.

After lunch, you'll take the scenic route along the slopes of Zunil volcano (the views of nearby Santa María volcano are amazing) to Fuentes Georginas, a handful of pools fed naturally by sulfur springs. Relax in the thermal waters or simply enjoy the cool, lush setting. Afterwards, you'll return to Quetzaltenango. Lunch is included.

Day 6 : San Andres Xecul - Totonicapán

Today, you and your English-speaking driver will leave Quetzaltenango for Totonicapán, stopping along the way in the picturesque town of San Andrés Xecul. A 1-hour drive from Quetzaltenango, San Andrés Xecul is best known for its unusual church. Painted a vibrant yellow, it has a façade depicting saints, animals, vines, and flowers; there's no other church in Guatemala quite like it.

After visiting the church, you'll walk up through town to a smaller, less ornate replica of the church, alongside of which you'll find ceremonial grounds where locals perform Mayan rituals. From here you can also enjoy a spectacular view of the surrounding valley and pine forests. When you're ready to leave, you'll continue to Totonicapán, a 45-minute drive away.

Toto: Homestay With Cultural Program
Here, deep in the beautiful Maya highlands, a local guide will help you discover a variety of the handicrafts for which this region is so well known. Stops along the way may include a visit with Don Miguel Hernández, who uses giant wood looms to make lovely, colourful textiles, or to a ceramics workshop where clay plates are handcrafted on pottery wheels and crushed glass is used to make lead-free paint.

You may also visit a local family who produces boxes for traditional sweets sold in markets.

Homestay includes dinner and breakfast, visit to costume and craft workshops, local lunch with marimba and traditional dance.

Day 7 : San Francisco Market - Huehuetenango

Today, you and your well-versed, English-speaking driver will get an early morning start for Huehuetenango, a two- to three-hour drive from Quetzaltenango. On the way, you'll stop at the chilly, highland town of San Francisco El Alto.

On Fridays, the town hosts one of the largest and most authentic markets in Guatemala and is particularly well known for the array of livestock that it sells; you'll see pigs, cows, sheep, horses, mules, chickens, and other animals. (It's a fascinating scene from a cultural perspective, but note that it can be somewhat unsettling as animals are not always cared for according to Western standards.)

You can also visit the town's church and check out the myriad textiles on offer you'll see everything from traditional fabrics and second-hand offerings to giant bolts of cloth and baskets full of thread. When you're ready to leave, you'll continue to Huehuetenango.

Overnight at Unicornio Azul, a unique, rustic 5-room lodge and horse trekking outfitter located in the remote Cuchumatanes Mountains area just outside the town of Huehuetenango. The lodge itself has 5 rooms - some with private bathroom and some with shared bathroom. Guests are treated to home cooking and hospitality at the opportunity to go riding.

This lodge is a good base from where to explore the deep highlands including Todos Santos. Bring something warm to wear as it gets cold!

Dinner and breakfast included - 2 nights.

Day 8 : Huehuetenango - Todos Santos Market

Today, you and your English-speaking driver will take a scenic, three-hour drive deep into the Cuchumatanes mountains of Huehuetenango to visit Todos Santos, a Mam Mayan town located 2,500 meters (about 8,100 feet) above sea level.

Todos Santos isolation has helped it maintain many of its traditional customs. Ropa típica (typical clothing) is the norm, with men donning the most striking outfits think red-and-white striped pants, striped shirts with embroidered collars, and straw hats; women wear vibrant purple huipiles (embroidered tunics). On Saturdays, you'll find a lively market with produce and regional handicrafts.

In addition to its reputation for being traditional, Todos Santos is also well known for the festivities it hosts on and around All Saints Day ("Todos Santos" translates to "all saints"); a highlight is the horse race that takes place on November 1st. Please note that while todosanteros (as they call themselves) are quite friendly, they do not allow visitors to take photographs.

Day 9 : Huehuetenango - Sacapulas & Aguacatan - Nebaj 

You and your private English-speaking driver will transfer to Nebaj. Stops will be made in Sacapulas and Aguacatan.

Overnight at Hacienda Mil Amores, a remote lodge located in the bucolic hillsides of the Cuchumantanes mountain range, just outside the town of Nebaj. It doubles as a working dairy farm and was started in the 1930s by two immigrant brothers and cheese makers (the Azzaris) who settled in Guatemala from the Italian Alps.

Today, the farm is well-known for the excellent hard cheese it produces. The lodge offers a handful of basic but comfortable standalone bungalows, each with a porch boasting beautiful views. Hacienda Mil Amores is a great base from which to explore Guatemala's rural highland region, including Nebaj and the Ixil Triangle. Dinner and breakfast included - 2 nights.

Day 10 : Nebaj - Ixil Triangle

Today, you’ll explore the villages of the Ixil Triangle. Located in the Cuchumatanes mountains, in the department of Quiché, the Ixil Triangle is an isolated but stunning part of Guatemala that comprises the towns of Nebaj, San Juan Cotzal, and Chajul, as well as a handful of outlying hamlets.

A region that once felt the full force of the Guatemalan civil war, the Ixil Triangle is a quiet destination today where locals still adhere to traditional ways of life. Most men are farmers, most women are weavers, and typical dress is common.

You’ll visit local churches, plazas, and markets and get a close-up look at local life. (Listen out for Ixil, the region’s Mayan dialect.) Be prepared for scenic views and a backdrop of towering mountains. Some moderate hiking may be included. Lunch is included.

Day 11 : Nebaj - Lake Atitlan

This morning you will transfer to Lake Atitlan with a stop at the Sololá Market en route. On market day this town is bursting with life and local Maya people from all around the area flock to the market to buy and sell their wares for the week ahead. Everyone is dressed in the brightly colored local textiles and even the men here wear the traditional costume of the area.

This is a fabulous and authentic market to visit which gives the traveler a wonderful insight into Maya life in the Solola district of Guatemala.

Overnight Lake Atitlan hotel, daily breakfast included - 2 nights.

Day 12 : Lake Atitlan - San Juan & Santiago Full Day Lake Tour

You will be picked up from your hotel and transfer to San Juan La Laguna Village where you will visit a local textile cooperative, see the back strap loom in use and see how natural dyes are used. You may also visit a local medicinal nursery where natural medicines, soaps and shampoos are produced. Following the cooperative visits, you will board the boat to the village of Santiago for lunch.

After lunch you will go with your guide to the house where the Maya God Maximon is living. Each year a different "brotherhood" has the privilege of taking care of their God so his location changes.

Once with Maximon you may see local shaman performing rituals for local people and if you wish you can ask your guide to help you hire the services of a shaman for you to have a personal ceremony performed (at additional cost).

After visiting Maximon guests can visit the local church and learn about the history of this very traditional town and also see the market and learn about the distinctive textiles and primitive art that is famous from this area. Afterward, you will transfer back to your hotel.

Lunch and entrance fees are included.

Day 13 : Chichicastenango Market With Transfer To Antigua

This morning you will be pickup up at your hotel by your private driver and guide for the 1.5 hour transfer out to the highland town of Chichicastenango. Along the way you will pass through the central highland region and see the local Maya people in their traditional dress going about their daily lives - working in the fields, collecting firewood, traveling between markets, selling their wares.

Upon arrival at Chichicastenango your guide will take you to explore this famous market both the local areas of the fruit & vegetables & everyday items as well as the craft area where you can find endless variety of beautiful textile, wooden & ceramic crafts.

Guests can also visit the famous St Tomas Church where local Maya people come to perform Maya rituals within the Catholic church - demonstrating the interesting way the two faiths have combined in recent times.

You may also 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. Lunch is included.

Afterward, you will transfer to Antigua.

Overnight at an Antigua hotel, daily breakfast included.

Day 14 : Antigua - Guatemala City

Transfer to the Guatemala City Airport. Int'l departure.


Price from $3,927.00 per person, based on double occupancy
Days 14
Nights 13

Based on double occupancy for 2 travelers, reduced prices for parties of 3 or more.

"I am very satisfied with the work that this Guatemala travel company did in planning my trip."

Their partner travel company on the ground in Guatemala did a great job in carrying out the planned itinerary.


- Wayne C, Mar 2013

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Memorize your passport number, as you will likely be asked for it on numerous occasions throughout your adventure.
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