Thousand-year-old Maya pyramid-temples of Tikal soar above the dense jungle

LAND of the MAYA 2002!

Guatemala is surely one of the most remarkable places on earth. Slightly smaller than the state of Tennessee, its mountainous topography ranges from sea level to soaring volcanic peaks over 13,000 feet high; its climate zones include steamy tropical jungles, rain-shadow desert valleys, cool cloud forests, and chilly alpine plateaux; and it is home to an amazing diversity of Maya, Mestizo, European and Caribbean traditions. The Highland Maya, comprising roughly half Guatemala's population and speaking some 20 or so different languages, have maintained a rich and colorful culture that gives Guatemala its basic character. So much to see, so much to leave you marvelling, so much to make you want to return to Guatemala again and again. We have been exploring Guatemala since 1969-- and each year we learn new secrets.

Every year since 1987 we have led a very special trip to Guatemala, and 2002 is no exception! Rutahsa's Guatemala-2002 Adventure will take place July 20 - Aug. 9 (Aug. 11, including Copán extension). The trip will be timed to enable us to witness the wonderful Rabín Ajau ceremony in Cobán, which is the climax of a week-long Folkloric Festival held in Cobán the last week of July.

Here's our itinerary:

Sat., July 20: Fly from the U.S. to Guatemala City; settle in at the Hotel Pan American, then take a walking tour of the Plaza Mayor area: the Palacio Nacional, Catedral Nacional, and the central market-- great places to begin to learn some Guatemalan history and to get acquainted with all the colorful textiles and other crafts of Guatemala.

Sun., July 21: This morning our private bus, piloted by Erick Villalta, a great driver and fine fellow, arrives at the Pan Am to pick us up. We then leave the capital city, stopping at Parque Minerva on the way out of town to see the remarkable giant relief map of Guatemala. We travel eastward down into the Motagua Valley, passing through an area of rain-shadow desert, stopping at archeological and geological sites of interest along the way, including the small, but very important Maya ruins of Quiriguá. Here, the tall stone monuments known as stelae are the tallest in the Maya realm, and some of the most exquisitely carved, and exceptionally well-preserved. Quiriguá is also famous for its bizarre zoomorphic boulders not found at other Maya sites.

Next, on to Puerto Barrios on the Gulf of Honduras, formerly Guatemala's main port city, now a sleepy backwater. Here we'll take a boat to the coastal town of Livingston. At this quaint old port town we will get a glimpse of an entirely different culture, the Black Carib culture of the Caribbean coast. Lodging at the waterside Hotel Tucán Dugú.

Mon., July 22: We have all day today in Livingston, with choices enough to suit a variety of whims: You can sleep late and then go for a morning swim in the Tucán Dugú's pool. You can spend the day looking about Livingston-- it's not big enough to get lost in-- getting a glimpse of the more-African-than-Latin local culture. And some of us may want to go with a local guide to visit Siete Altares, a series of pools and cascades located about six kilometers out of town. For supper we might go down to the African Place, a rather bizarre construction that looks like a downsized Moorish palace that was somehow displaced into the tropics. The owner is a Spaniard and just how he wound up in Livingston is no doubt a tale in itself. One thing to bear in mind: don't expect fast food!

Tues., July 23: Today we go by motor launch up the famous limestone gorge of the Río Dulce. We will stop in at Ak'Tenamit, an aid project for Q'eqchi' Maya. Here we can learn about the Ak'Tenamit project, visit their school and health station, see their gardens, and purchase crafts (including handmade paper) in the Ak'Tenamit Q'eqchi' Women's Cooperative.

Continuing up-river, we enter El Golfete, a wide, lake-like part of the river. On the north shore is the Chocón Machacas Manatee Reserve, which we will visit in hopes of seeing some of these shy creatures, now protected by law in Guatemala.

Eventually we reach the town of Río Dulce where Erick will be awaiting us with our bus. Leaving the boat behind, we bus northward on a good paved road out into the Petén lowlands until we reach the town of Poptún and our lodging at Finca Ixobel.

Finca Ixobel is quite an operation. Run by Carole DeVine, a gutsy American woman, the finca is a farm, an animal rehabilitation center, a bakery, and the most unusual hostelry in the whole country. Accommodations range from camping, to tree houses, to comfy cabañas (we'll reserve the latter, but if you want to sleep in a tree house just let us know in advance). Food at Finca Ixobel is all home-cooked and wonderful!

Weds., July 24: The cool early morning is free time-- take advantage of it to visit the baby howler monkeys, go swimming in the laguna, or take a short hike. But by 10 AM we need to load up and continue north towards Tikal. We'll stop at the town of Flores for lunch, then continue on to Tikal National Park, arriving about 3 PM.

Flores is situated on an island in Lake Petén Itzá and was the capital of the fierce Itzá Mayas. The Spaniards did not manage to conquer this group by force of arms, and only in 1697, almost two centuries after the Conquest began, did the Itzás submit peacefully to missionaries.

Upon arrival in Tikal we will put our luggage in our cabins at the Jungle Lodge, then go on an orientation walk into the huge archeological complex, passing through the great plaza, flanked by the soaring pyramids of Temple I and Temple II to reach the "Lost World" where the giant pyramid makes a great place to watch the jungle birds come in to roost for the evening and to await the sunset. (The ruins are officially closed at 6 PM, so a park guard may shoo us on back towards the Jungle Lodge before dark. But just in case he can be talked into letting us stay late, as sometimes happens, be sure to bring a flashlight for the walk back in the dark.)

Thurs., July 25: All day long at Tikal! Get up early-- You can watch sunrise from high atop Temple IV. And by getting into the ruins early you both improve your chances of seeing wildlife as well as beat the heat.

If you are an early riser, then you may want to come back to the Jungle Lodge for breakfast before hitting the ruins again to prowl and marvel amid crumbling, jungle-encrusted temples, palaces, causeways, pyramids, and numerous ruined edifices of unknown purpose.

In addition to the amazing ruins of a once populous Classic Maya city, Tikal is also a wonderful site for its lowland tropical jungle, its brilliant birds and other wildlife. You'll see parrots, toucans, toucanettes, hummingbirds, oropendola, the beautiful ocellated turkey, and many other avian inhabitants of the jungle. And you'll almost certainly see foxes, guatuzas (agoutis), pisotes (coatimundi), and spider monkeys. You might see howler monkeys, deer, peccary, small alligators in the water hole near the hotel, or other jungle beasts. On our June 2001 trip one lucky Rutahsa Adventurer had a wonderful close-up view of a jaguar napping on a trail in mid-day!

Tikal is really a wonderful site, but it is hot! Fortunately, the Jungle Lodge has a pool!

Fri. July 26: This morning we leave for the town of Sayaxché on the Río de la Pasión, sometimes known as the "River of Ruins" for the great number of ancient Mayan cities along its banks. From Sayaxché we'll reach one of these seldom visited sites by boating along the river. Though not as exciting by any means as Tikal, this visit will give us a better understanding of what it takes to rescue one of these archeological sites from the jungle.

After a late lunch at Sayaxché, we will continue on south to another very unusual guest lodge at the spectacular caverns of Candelaria. The lodge is the creation of a somewhat eccentric Frenchman who fell in love with the great caverns here, and determined to preserve the cave and its environs by promoting ecotourism in this most remote and unlikely spot. We will have to walk about a half mile to reach our rustic lodging, so you'll want to pack lightly for tonight-- just your daypack will do.

Sat., July 27: After breakfast we go on a walking tour of a portion of the giant river cave, a place that was sacred to the ancient Maya, and which remains a spiritual place to their modern descendants. Be sure to bring your flashlights and wear your hiking boots-- our guide will have a Coleman lantern, but there are no electric lights in the cave and the pathways are primitive. The cave is huge, the walls are clean limestone, solutionally scalloped by waters of the centuries. Various skylights, resulting from roof collapse over the many thousands of years, produce multiple dramatic jungly entrances, all exceedingly picturesque.

After lunch back at the lodge we drive on, ascending into dramatic karstic mountains as we head for the major coffee-producing town of Cobán and to our delightfully 19th-century-style lodgings at La Posada. Don't worry, it's totally charming, and not so last-century as to not have hot water and other amenities. And La Posada's kitchen crew turn out quality food that is truly scrumptious! There's a big city market in Cobán that is worth visiting in the remains of the afternoon (depending, of course, on just when we arrive).

According to information confirmed in Cobán in early January, this week is the annual folkloric festival in Cobán, and tonight is the grand climax: celebration of Rabin Ajau. In this pageant young Maya women representing different villages from all over Guatemala show off their best traje, that is, their traditional native costumes. Although by the time we reach Cobán we will already have seen a variety of Mayan costumes in several places (and we will see much more when we get deeper into the central highlands), it is only at the Rabin Ajau that you have a chance to see a selection of fine traditional dress from all over the entire country at one place. It is a wonderful sight to see, and we have scheduled this trip for this particular weekend in Cobán in order to attend this impressive and colorful event.

Sun., July 28: Those who want to see the fabled quetzal bird will have to get up very very early today-- we'll leave well before daybreak to drive about an hour to a quetzal preserve. We want to be in position in a spot where the birds feed in the early hours of the day. The Resplendent Quetzal, perhaps the most beautiful bird on earth, is simply indescribable, but here's an attempt: the male has a head and shoulders of shimmering metallic emerald feathers, a scarlet red breast, and black wings and tail. Add to this, emerald plumes that droop down over the shoulders like some pompous 19th-century general's epaulettes, plus four long tail plumes that flow like a horse's tail when he flies, and you have a truly extravagant bird. In Classic Maya times only the nobility were allowed to wear quetzal plumes in their dress. The female of the species is more sedately colored, but also very beautiful. Today this gorgeous bird, which is the national symbol of Guatemala, suffers from habitat loss as cloud forest is cut for timber and cleared for agriculture. We will go to a biosphere reserve to see the birds-- and we have been successful in sighting them three out of the last four visits here. After a snack we'll go for a hike in the cloud forest to see lush tropical plants in abundance that form the quetzals' habitat.

Those who don't fancy getting up so early will have all day in Cobán, a pleasant town to while away a day in. Time to visit the market today if you didn't see it yesterday. A very worthy activity would be a visit to the Museo El Principe Maya, a well-done private museum of Maya artifacts.

After lunch, when the quetzal-seekers have returned, we'll take a short trip just outside of town to visit an orchid "farm". Vivero Cobán is actually a major orchid species rescue operation. Tens of thousands of orchids have been saved from trees felled by the Maya clearing land for agriculture. Hundreds of species, many new to science, have been collected. This valuable salvage and botany program has become the life's work of a remarkable German-Guatemalan family. And the farm is a delight to visit. Overnight again at the lovely La Posada.

Mon., July 29: Today we head into the heart of the Highland Maya area of Guatemala. Our route will be mostly by a gravel-- but good, all-weather gravel-- road that climbs and twists over several major mountain ridges and through intervening gorges following a major fault zone (part of the plate tectonic boundary separating the North American plate from the Caribbean plate). We'll lunch en route, but there's not much in the way of eateries on this stretch, so we'll plan to bring along some snacks from Cobán. Eventually we'll reach the Ixil Maya town of Nebaj, at about 6300 ft and surrounded by higher ridges.

Nebaj and the two towns of Cotzal and Chajul form the "Ixil Triangle", an area of Ixil-speaking Maya, and an area that was very hard-hit by both the Guatemalan army and the guerilleros during La Violencia (early 1980s). We will learn some of this sad history while we are here, and we will see that, happily, the bad times are past and life here is improving.

All three of the Ixil Triangle towns have distinctive traje, and that of Nebaj is particularly spectacular. A bright red corte (skirt), an elaborately embroidered huipil (traditional blouse), an all-purpose shawl over the shoulder, and a marvelous turban-like head wrap comprise the dress of the Nebaj woman.

In Nebaj we will stay at the simple, but quite adequate and clean, Hotel Ixil Anexo.

Tues., July 30: Today is a day for hikers, or, for the more laid-back, a day to absorb the atmosphere of a small, very traditional Indian city as yet largely unchanged by tourism.

Our hike will be led by Mike Shawcross, a British ex-pat who has lived in Guatemala about a quarter century, worked extensively with the Ixil people, and who knows and loves this area well. We'll probably hike about four hours along mountain trails with gorgeous views to a pick-up point where hikers can choose to return to the bus, or continue hiking another two hours to the town of Chajul to meet the bus. Second night at the Hotel Ixil Anexo.

Weds., July 31: From Nebaj we recross a major mountain massif, descend again into the valley of the Río Chixoy, where we cross the river at Sacapulas. A short time out for a walk about this ancient town will include a visit to the colorful local cemetery.

Continuing on we then climb up on the central volcanic plateau as we head for the city of Santa Cruz del Quiché, which we should reach around mid-day. After lunch, we'll take a side trip to visit the ruins of Utatlán, site of the former capital of the K'iche' Maya who formed the strongest indigenous nation at the time of the Spanish Conquest, and who today remain the largest Maya language group in Guatemala. At Utatlán we may be able to visit a tunnel where costumbre (traditional Maya rites) are held (whether or not we can enter the tunnel will depend on whether or not ceremonies are in progress when we arrive).

We will finish today's journey by continuing on to Chichicastenango, less than an hour from Utatlán-- less than an hour, that is, if we don't get too lost in Santa Cruz's maze of unmarked streets! In "Chichi" we will lodge in the Mayan Inn, a famous hostelry for over half a century. Each room is unique, and all are furnished with antiques, including some colonial pieces of museum quality. The food is excellent, and service is provided by turbaned Maxeños, i.e., K'iche' Maya men of Chichicastenango, in full traje. To learn more about the Mayan Inn, visit their website: Mayan Inn, but don't forget to return to this trip description by clicking your "back" button. A night in the Mayan Inn is a memorable experience. Of course we've come to Chichi for its world-famous native market, and you can start your shopping tonight as vendors begin setting up for tomorrow's big day.

Thurs., Aug. 1: You may be startled awake by explosions around 6 AM, thinking a revolution is in progress, but it is only a typical market day in Chichi, and the people do love their bombas along with all the other noises, smells and color. This is without question the most colorful native market in all the Americas, with native vendors coming from long distances to sell their wares. See Rutahsa's website on Chichi's market by clicking here: Market day at Chichi.

After taking pictures and haggling for blankets, wall hangings, native blouses, men's shirts, ceramics, carved wooden masks, and all kinds of other crafts, antiques, and souvenirs, you'll be ready for lunch and then to just sit a while and watch the scenery roll by, as we head up and across the continental divide (over 10,000 ft) to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala's second most important city. Here we'll stay in the elegant Pensión Bonifaz, just off the main plaza. The Bonifaz has an excellent restaurant, and even an indoor swimming pool; check out the Bonifaz by clicking here: Pensión Bonifaz (and, as before, use your "back" button to continue with Rutahsa's trip description). In addition to the Bonifaz, there are quite a few good eateries within walking distance, and this is an interesting, European-flavored city.

Fri., Aug. 2: Another up-and-at-'em-early day for those who want to see the spectacular Santiaguito volcanic dome, which requires an hour's ride up a road that's a bit rough and very steep, followed by short hike down through amazing tropical vegetation to an overlook. Your reward for this effort is a breathtaking view across the great 1902 explosion crater on the Pacific side of Volcán Santa María. Starting in 1922 and continuing today, a steaming grey mass of dacitic lava has pushed up into the crater. This active volcanic dome steams, will likely roar and rumble some while we watch it, and occasionally spews ash up into the air.

Back to the Bonifaz for breakfast, then some free time in town. In the afternoon we'll drive through the agricultural area around Zunil, where truck farming has transformed the mountainsides as well as the valley bottoms into a beautiful agricultural patchwork quilt. On past Zunil we'll arrive at the hot springs spa Fuentes Georginas to swim and relax and enjoy refreshments. Along the way, clouds permitting, are wonderful views of Volcán Santa María and, occasionally, glimpses of Maya people performing costumbre, i.e. their traditional religious rites, in a cave across the valley from the road we travel. We'll spend a second night at the Pensión Bonifaz.

Sat., Aug. 3: After breakfast we will leave Quetzaltenango en route for Lago Atitlán, via the coastal route. Below Zunil we pass by steam vents and a geothermally powered electric generation station, where we can see the scars of a tragic landslide that occurred here a few years back, burying a number of people while they slept. We descend to the upper part of the coastal plain, passing through coffee and sugar cane plantations as we skirt the bases of the giant cones of the Pacific volcanic chain. Then we climb back up to the highlands to arrive at shimmering Lago Atitlán, which Aldous Huxley described as the most beautiful lake in the world. For all we know Huxley might have had his perceptions peyote- or mushroom-enhanced, but it isn't needed: this dramatic lake, sunk down in a great volcanic caldera, and flanked by three huge soaring cones is incredibly gorgeous!

We'll turn off the pavement at San Lucas Tolimán and drive to the Tz'utujiil Maya town of Santiago Atitlán. Here we'll overnight in the Posada Santiago, a great place built and run by a gringo ex-pat: swimming in the lake, good food, and a very interesting town to explore.

Sun., Aug. 4: We'll have all day in Santiago and its environs. You can visit the ancient church of Santiago, the town market, possibly the shrine of Maximón, and also learn about Santiago's tragic recent history during "La Violencia" (1980s)-- from which the town has recovered remarkably. We will probably try to arrange an optional boating/hiking excursion across an arm of the lake to a Tz'utujiil archeological site (which we have never visited) for those who are interested.

Santiago women still weave on the backstrap loom, and wear their distinctive traje which features a halo-like headwrap.

Mon., Aug. 5: Hikers will take a chartered boat across the lake to start a 4 - 5 hour hike around the edge of the lake, passing through several villages and full of spectacular views across the beautiful lake. After we reach the town of Santa Cruz our boat will pick us up and transfer us over to Panajachel, the main lake town. Travelers not wishing to hike so much can come across Atitlán on one of the regular midday ferries to meet us in Pana; or, for a series of different lake vistas, can ride in the bus with Erick around the great volcanic basin to meet the rest of the group at Pana.

Panajachel is sometimes called "Gringotenango" due to the large number of foreigners who have settled here. For those who prefer truly native towns, it is an example of the worst influences of tourism. For those who like to shop till they drop, it is a great center of opportunity. Whatever, it certainly is no longer like any other town in Guatemala-- being given over entirely to hotels, restaurants, shops, all-week-markets-in-the-streets. We'll need to leave here for Antigua Guatemala by 3 PM, so if you want to do the hike, don't plan on much time here; if shopping is what you like, plan to skip the hike.

From Pana to Antigua we'll take the back road via Patzicia and Patzún. In Antigua our hotel will be the Posada de Don Rodrigo, consisting of several colonial homes joined together, and featuring several lovely patios, gardens, and a daily marimba concert.

Tues., Aug. 6: All day getting to know the charming city of Antigua and its massive earthquake-shattered colonial churches, convents, monasteries, and public buildings. We'll start off with a walking tour conducted by Elizabeth Bell, author of one of the best Antigua guidebooks.

In its heyday, Antigua was the capital of the Kingdom of Goathemala, and the third largest city in the New World (surpassed only by Mexico City and Lima). Then it was destroyed in a series of earthquakes in 1773. Today it is a great tourist attraction for its colonial architecture and ambience. For more details on Antigua's history and architecture, see our Antigua website. A visit to the "Casa Popenoe", a lovingly restored colonial home will be on our agenda for this afternoon around 2 PM. Anyone seriously interested in the architecture of Antigua should ask Mike Shawcross for a copy of Verle Annis' scholarly tome "The Architecture of Antigua Guatemala, 1543-1773". This long-out-of-print work has just been reprinted and Mike, who is a bibliophile, has copies for sale. Second night in the Posada de Don Rodrigo.

Weds., Aug. 7: A hard choice today: There is so much to see and do in Antigua, that it's hard to leave it; some will choose to spend another full day here, and who can blame them? But for the hearty, today is the day we climb active Volcán Pacaya. This is a completely non-technical climb, but it is a real huffer-puffer. We hike for about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours to reach the peak at about 8550 ft (it changes from year to year because of the constant activity which alternately builds it up and blows it away!). A stupendous view along the Pacific volcanic chain is just one of the rewards for those who make the climb.

Over the years, we have seen Pacaya in quiet steam eruptions, explosively blasting bombs and ash skyward, and with glowing red streams of lava oozing down its flanks. We may get to peer into the fuming crater, or, if the volcano is in a strombolian phase, we will time our trip to see the fireworks at night. To see Pacaya in many different states of activity, visit our Pacaya webpage. Whatever it is doing, Pacaya is always exciting, and getting there is certainly breathtaking (both figuratively and literally!). This is an all-day trip, and a hot shower at the end of the day to remove the ash that's worked its way into your clothing and your pores will sure feel fine. Third night at the Posada de Don Rodrigo.

Thurs., Aug. 8: An easy day in and about Antigua. A mid-morning trip will be scheduled to nearby La Azotea Cultural Center where you can tour a working coffee processing plant, experience Casa K'ojom museum of native music, and enjoy other cultural exhibits. Or you can head out on your own to explore more ruins or visit any of several museums. Visit the jade shops, or an indigenous women's co-op selling fine weavings, or shop in the city marketplace (a wondrously bewildering complex) or the new artesans' market. Try to figure out where and what kind of food to eat: plato típico, Italian, Chinese, vegetarian, or other... Or just relax in the central park and get your shoes shined. Lots to do here. Fourth night at the Posada de Don Rodrigo.

Participants in either of the two trip extensions will say goodbye to the rest of the group today and head east to the Chuacús Mtns. or to Honduras. See description of these trip extensions following the main trip itinerary.

Fri., Aug. 9: Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Those who end their Guatemala excursion today will fly out to the U.S., carrying tons of photos, souvenirs and memories of a remarkable country and even more remarkable people, indigenous and Europeanized. Along with these memories of a great trip...a determination to return, for Guatemala is just too fantastic to only visit once!

Three little girls from Santiago Atitlán, with a friend from another village.



Those who choose the 3-day Copán extension will leave Antigua on Thurday the 8th by private bus to head east back down the Motagua Vally, then turn south to cross the border into neighboring Honduras, ending the day cooling off in the pool at the Hotel Marina in Copán Ruinas, Honduras. To see more of the Hotel Marina Copán, click here: Marina Copán; then hit your "back" button to return to this trip description.

Fri., Aug. 9: All day at Copán Ruins National Park, starting with a guided tour of the 1000-year-old Classic Maya site. Copán is famed for its marvelous carvings, which are better preserved here than in most Maya sites due to the use of volcanic rock that resists weathering. In addition to the numerous stelae depicting Copán's kings, there are pyramids and temples, and a fine ceremonial ballcourt, where the ritual game was played for keeps. In 1999, a series of archeological exploration tunnels underneath the ancient pyramids was opened to the public, revealing the completely intact buried temple known as Rosalila. In addition to the pyramids and temples, there is the new Museum of Sculpture and also the old Copán Museum which houses a cache of amazing flint eccentrics discovered recently in a buried temple, plus many other wonderful objects. Finally, the town of Copán itself is such a pleasant, friendly country town, a really nice place to spend a day. Second night at the Hotel Marina

Sat., Aug. 10: Today you return to Antigua arriving in time to enjoy a part of the afternoon in the colonial city. Your final night will be a quiet evening in Antigua at the Quinta de las Flores, a bit more removed from the center of town than the Posada de Don Rodrigo. You can still easily walk to your favorite ruin or shop or restaurant (not that you need to go out to eat-- the Quinta has a wonderful restaurant exclusively for its guests), but the peace of this location will help you gather your thoughts about packing to leave on the morrow, and what you want to visit when next you return to Guatemala. This much is for sure: you'll want to come back!

Sun., Aug. 11: Shuttle in to the airport and fly away home.


For those willing to rough it for a truly unusual experience, Rutahsa Adventures will offer for the first time "a day in the life of a Q'eqchi' Maya family", arranged through the environmental group "Proyecto Ecológico Quetzal", an NGO helping Q'eqchi' Maya develop a sustainable lifestyle that aids in the preservation of the cloud forest habitat of the quetzal.

Here is the itinerary being discussed with PEQ for this extension:

Thurs., Aug. 8: Travel from Guatemala City to Cobán where we will overnight. Proyecto Ecológico Quetzal staff members will meet with us and introduce PEQ's project with a slide show and handouts.

Fri., Aug. 9: Travel by 4WD minibus 1 1/2 hours from Cobán to starting point for the three-hour hike up into the Sierra Caquipec cloud forest to reach the Q'eqchi' village of Chicacnab. At this village of 78 families PEQ has established a scientific station, where we will have lunch.

After lunch PEQ guides will introduce us to the cloud forest, insects, birds and geology of the area. Supper will be at the research station., where we may also overnight.

Sat., Aug. 10: After breakfast at the PEQ research station, Q'eqchi' guides will pick us up for a four-hour hike into the cloud forest to observe quetzals, howler monkeys and other wildlife. We will visit a holy cave and a lookout point where, on a clear day, you can see all the way to the volcanoes towering above Antigua. Lunch will be a picnic during the hike.

In the afternoon our group will split into pairs to visit Q'eqchi' families and overnight with them. You can learn to make tortillas, learn about weaving, and observe and participate in many aspects of the daily life of a Maya family.

Sun., Aug. 11: After breakfast with our host families, we meet back at the scientific station, say goodbye to Chicacnab and begin the hike back down the mountain. Upon arriving back in Cobán we'll take our transportation back to Guatemala City for a final overnight in the Hotel Pan American.

The cost and other details of this extension are yet to be worked out, but if you are interested in participating in this very special experience, please let us know ASAP, as the number of people who want to do this can affect the cost per person. Your participation in this extension will promote intercultural understanding and support a very worthy environmental cause.

Mon., Aug. 12: Fly away home loaded with new experiences, souvenirs, photos, and memories for a lifetime!


NOTE: Trip prices DO NOT include US-Guatemala-US air fare. Travelers are responsible for arranging their own air travel to and from Guatemala. For excellent prices on air fares to Guatemala, Rutahsa Adventures gladly recommends Solar Tours at 1-800-388-7652; ask for Patricia at extension 558, and tell her you are going on Rutahsa Adventures July trip to her homeland. Also, MENA Travel at 1-800-536-6362; ask for Juan and tell him Rutahsa Adventures sent you.

A minimum of 8 travelers is necessary to make this trip go; a maximum of 16 will be allowed. The 1999, 2000, and 2001 trips all sold out and interested parties are advised to contact us early.

To make an enquiry about Rutahsa's Guatemala-2002 Excursion, e-mail Dr. Ric Finch at

TRIP APPLICATION BLANKS WILL BE AVAILABLE AFTER JAN. 31, 2002. To make a reservation, request a trip application blank, fill it out and send it, along with a deposit check for $350 made out to Rutahsa Adventures, Inc., to 299 Allen Hollow Rd., Cookeville, TN 38501. Once your trip application blank has been received and your deposit accepted by Rutahsa Adventures, Inc., you will be guaranteed a space on this excursion. Your deposit will be fully refunded if for any reason the trip is cancelled. If you decide to cancel your reservation, your deposit will be fully refunded provided cancellation is made before May 18, 2002. After May 18 there will be a cancellation penalty of $175 if cancellation is made before June 18. In the event of cancellation after June 18, 2002, the full deposit is subject to retention.

Every year since 1998 Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel has highly recommended Rutahsa Adventures' Guatemala excursions. Take a look at what Frommer's had to say about our most recent Guatemala trips:

To see the varied services Rutahsa Adventures offers, click here: Rutahsa Adventures homepage.

Thanks for visiting!

Images on this website by Janie and Ric Finch, @copyrighted.