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Semana Santa 2019 in Guatemala

Semana Santa 2019 in Guatemala

$1685 per person
10 Days 9 Nights

Live the culture while immersing yourself in hundreds of years of tradition this spring.

Considered one of the most colorful celebrations in the New World, processions and vigils are scheduled throughout Lent, but none are as beautiful and magical as those in Antigua, Guatemala during Hole Week. Our Semana Santa (Holy Week) tour in Guatemala will immerse you in history, culture and culinary delights as you dine with locals, visit artisans and entrepreneurs, and attend the amazing Holy Week activities. Be a part of this tradition that has gone on for centuries as we observe respectfully and participate when invited!

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  • Departure/Return Location
    Guatemala City
  • Departure Time
    Arrive anytime on April 13th, preferably before 4:00 pm
  • Return Time
    Depart anytime on April 22nd
  • Included
    Accommodation
    Guides & Entrance Fees
    In country transportation
    Meals
  • Not Included
    Flights
    Insurance

Tour Plan

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DAY ONE: SATURDAY, APRIL 13th, D included
Arrive in Guatemala City: Participants will be flying in from a variety of different places therefore travelers are welcome to choose the flight path that best suits their travel preferences and needs. That being said, we encourage participants to book flights that arrive in Guatemala in the morning or early afternoon so that they have time to get settled before the welcome dinner that evening. If you need assistance booking your international airfare please let us know!
Upon arriving at the airport one of the Program Directors, Chelsea or Ana, will be waiting to escort you to the beautiful colonial town of La Antigua via private shuttle (45 minute drive, without traffic). Once in La Antigua, you will be checked into your hotel and be given a brief orientation of the city. If you need any assistance going to the bank, store, pharmacy, etc. Chelsea or Ana will be more than happy to accompany you. In the event you arrive early in the morning and would like to coordinate any specific activities during the day just let us know so we can accommodate your requests.
7:00 pm: Welcome dinner at Cuscun (included) Enjoy a traditional Guatemala meal and learn how to make tortillas during this interactive dining experience at our friend Joaquín’s cooking school just outside of La Antigua. We will dine on the terrace as we meet the guides and fellow travelers and discuss the upcoming activities for our adventure here in Guatemala.
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DAY TWO: SUNDAY, APRIL 14th, B & L included *PALM SUNDAY*
Walking Tour 9:00 am - 12:00 pm: Start your first full day in La Antigua with a walking tour of the city. We will begin with a brisk walk up to Cerro de la Cruz, giving us a stunning panoramic view of the city, surrounding towns, and the three volcanoes that tower over us - Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. From there, we will return to the town center and continue our journey on the cobblestone roads of La Antigua. We will cover a bit of the history of La Antigua, stop in the most iconic plazas and churches and also point out some of our favorite neighborhood haunts for food, drinks, art and music. We will also stop to observe the alfombras de Semana Santa in the streets. Alfombras are elaborate “carpets” or floor decorations made from colored sawdust, pine needles, fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables are placed on the outside of the carpet as an offering to the saints. The ‘alfombras’ are constructed by la hermandad (“the brotherhood”) of town’s many the churches, but during Semana Santa many residents and businesses work together to create an ‘alfombra’ of their own which can sometimes take up to 24 hours to construct!
12:00 - 1:00 pm: Lunch (included) Enjoy a delicious traditional meal at a this local joint loved by travelers and locals alike. After lunch you can enjoy some free time.
Interactive Artisan Workshop 3:00 - 5:00 pm: Get your hands dirty as you make a souvenir to take home with you at the end of your trip. We will meet with a local woodworker to learn about the brightly colored masks seen all over Guatemala and their cultural and historical significance. From there, we will get in touch with our inner child as we make our own mask which will fit perfectly in your suitcase or carry on bag!   You will then have the rest of the evening free to relax or explore independently. We are happy to give you a list of recommendations of places to eat, grab a drink or listen to some live music!
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DAY THREE: MONDAY, APRIL 15th, B & L included
Tour de Pueblos 9:00 am - 12:00 pm: Enjoy a tour of some of the most picturesque towns surrounding La Antigua Guatemala. We start at San Juan del Obispo, visiting one of the first Catholic churches to be built in Guatemala, and the convent museum right next to it. Much of the original structure of the church and convent still remain after centuries of renovations, and we will be taken on a brief tour by one of the nuns that resides in the convent. Next stop is “El Vino del Abuelo”, a home-based winery where you will get to taste and buy some artisan wine from the region, with their specialty being the loquat wine. Close by we will try another San Juan speciality, artisan chocolate from the region at Brenda’s place, which has been the family’s business for four generations! Depending on time and the group’s interest we have a variety of other artisans and small business owners to stop by and visit with as we take time to get to know life in Guatemala outside of La Antigua’s commercial center thus learning what drives the economy, society and the culture in this region.
Coffee Farm Tour with Don José (lunch included) 1:00 pm - 4:30 pm: After a morning exploring the surrounding towns we will be welcomed into the home of our friend Don José. We first met Don José’s through his daughter, Gloria, who participates in a program at our sister non-profit, Fundación Fénix. Her husband, Jose Antonio was a volunteer firefighter who passed away during the rescue efforts during the June 3rd, 2018, eruption of the Fuego Volcano. It’s been a honor to get to know Gloria and her family and we are excited to work with them as a part of our sustainable tourism program.   Upon arriving at their home, we will have a home cooked meal. Then it’s time to get even further off the beaten path as we climb into the back of Don Jose’s pick up truck and ride through the farmland of Alotenango to visit his and his friends small coffee plots. Here, he will teach us about all the steps involved in making your morning cup of joe including cultivation, harvest, processing and roasting. You will also enjoy spectacular views of the countryside and not only will you see coffee but many other plants such as corn, avocado, beans, jocotes and various trees and medicinal plants. After our time at the farm, we will return to Don Jose’s home to taste a cup of his delicious coffee before saying goodbye to our friends.
You will then have the rest of the evening free to relax or explore independently. We are happy to give you a list of recommendations of places to eat, grab a drink or listen to some live music!  
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DAY FOUR: TUESDAY, APRIL 16th, B, L & D included
8:00 am: Drive to Tecpán for breakfast (included) We will meet at the hotel entrance to board our private shuttle for a 1 hour drive to the nearby farming town of Tecpán. Around 9:00 am we will arrive in Tecpán for a traditional breakfast typical to the region and can spend some time looking at the artisan crafts. After departing Tecpán, we will continue driving to the country’s famous Lake Atitlán, stopping along the way at the mirador for a photo opportunity.
1:30 pm: Arrive to Lake Atitlán We will arrive to Lake Atitlán and take a short boat ride to the town of San Juan La Laguna. Here we will spend the day learning about this lovely lakeside community and tour their impressive cooperatives to learn about agriculture, weaving, textiles, chocolate making and more. We will then enjoy a homestay with the local families and a communal dinner in the evening.
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DAY FIVE: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17th, B included
8:00 am: Breakfast at homestay (included)
8:00 am: Breakfast at homestay (included)   9:00 am: Lake Atitlán Town Tours   After breakfast with our host families we will wave goodbye and return to our boat. We will continue to spend the morning and early afternoon stopping at some neighboring towns, including San Pedro La Laguna to check out the art scene and Santiago Atitlán to visit their market, church and Maximón shrine.   Later in the afternoon, we will arrive at our hotel. From here, you can visit the local nature reserve, rent a kayak, explore the nearby town of Panajachel and much more! Just let your guide know what you are interested in doing and we can help arrange it for you! After breakfast with our host families we will wave goodbye and return to our boat. We will continue to spend the morning and early afternoon stopping at some neighboring towns, including San Pedro La Laguna to check out the art scene and Santiago Atitlán to visit their market, church and Maximón shrine. Later in the afternoon, we will arrive at our hotel. From here, you can visit the local nature reserve, rent a kayak, explore the nearby town of Panajachel and much more! Just let your guide know what you are interested in doing and we can help arrange it for you!
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DAY SIX: THURSDAY, APRIL 18th, B & L included
10:00 am: Journey back to La Antigua with stops along the way! After a slow morning waking up and enjoying breakfast overlooking the lake, we will meet in the lobby to load up the van and begin making our journey back to La Antigua, but not without a couple of stops along the way. First, we will visit the town of San Antonío Palapó to learn more about the beautiful handmade pottery this village is known for. From there, we will head toward to the main road once again making a stop in Tecpán for lunch and to visit the Iximche Ruins. Iximche was the capital of the Maya Kingdom from 1470 until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in 1524, where they also established the first capital of Guatemala. Here we will spend a couple of hours exploring and hearing all about this amazing site.
6:00 pm: Arrive back to La Antigua for a relaxing evening to catch up on rest!
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DAY SEVEN: FRIDAY APRIL 19th, B & L included *GOOD FRIDAY*
Pacaya Volcano Hike + Spa Day 9:00 am - 5:00 pm: Enjoy a half day of adventure and soak up the epic views at the top of one of Guatemala’s most popular and active volcanoes! This moderate hike will begin at the base of the volcano in the village of San Vicente Pacaya where you will make your hour and a half to two hour ascent up the side of one of Guatemala’s three active volcanoes, taking in the beautiful surrounding landscapes along the way. At the top, you will get to peer down at the fiery lava and have the opportunity to toast marshmallows. Afterwards our group will hike down to the trailhead, and take our private shuttle to a thermal spa, whose natural springs are heated by the linked underground activity generated by the very volcano we just climbed. If you would prefer not to participate in the volcano hike there are a variety of alternative activities that we are happy to recommend or organize for you, just let us know!
Optional Dinner and Procession Observation 7:30 pm: After everyone has had time to shower and freshen up after an active day, we will head out to dinner and to watch the Semana Santa processions as the festivities kick into high gear!
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DAY EIGHT: SATURDAY APRIL 20th, B included *HOLY SATURDAY*
Guided Walking Tour & Semana Santa Celebrations 9:00 - 4:00 pm (lunch included at Chermol) With Easter Sunday just one day away, La Antigua is going to be an absolute madhouse. We will leave the schedule for this day fairly open to accommodate the crowds and constant changes that happen throughout the city during this time. Our plan is to mix in some stops at interesting places in La Antigua with stops to take time to observes processions and alfombras and visit pop up outdoor markets.
After we finish the structured portion of the day we encourage everyone to explore on their own as Semana Santa can be a personal experience for many. For others, the crowds and traffic might get to be too much at some point and you may prefer to relax at the hotel or another tranquil area. We are happy to continue accompanying you during the afternoon if you’d like or to set up any alternative activities you might be interested.
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DAY NINE SUNDAY APRIL 21st, - included *EASTER SUNDAY*
Free Day to explore independently and do last minute shopping and packing. We are here to help with anything you might need!
6:00 pm: Meet for pre-dinner drinks at Whiskey Den (optional, not included)  7:30 pm: Farewell Dinner at Angie Angie (included)
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DAY TEN MONDAY APRIL 22nd, B included
Transportation to airport (included), please confirm your departure date and time with us so we can coordinate your transportation to the Guatemala City airport.

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