LAND of the MAYA EXCURSION 2012
Featuring the DAY of the DEAD CELEBRATION
with its famous and colorful giant kites soaring to the spirits above!
Giant kites are constructed and flown in the Santiago Sacatepéquez
cemetery to celebrate the Day of the Dead
LAND of the MAYA 2012!
Rutahsa Adventures is offering a remarkable Guatemala excursion to be held Oct. 23 - Nov. 6, 2012,
and featuring the colorful and fascinating Day of the Dead Festival held in Santiago Sacatepéquez
on All Saints Day (Nov. 1). Rutahsa's annual Guatemala excursions for 2005, 2008 & 2010 featured this
folkloric celebration and all our travelers were enchanted...you will be, too!
But the Day of the Dead ceremonies are only the tip of the iceberg! Guatemala without a doubt is one of
the most remarkable countries on earth, full of marvelous places and people. While only about the size
of Tennessee, Guatemala's varied 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 of Guatemala's population and
speaking over 20 different languages, have maintained a rich and colorful culture that gives Guatemala its
special flavor. There is so much to see, so much to leave you marveling, so much to make you want to
return to Guatemala again and again. And this is why we have been exploring Guatemala since 1969-- and
each year learning new secrets.
Every year since 1987 we have organized a very special trip to Guatemala, and 2012 is no exception! The
especially unusual highlights of this year's excursion will be the Day of the Dead Festival, a visit to a Mam
Maya community far off the beaten track where traditional Maya costume is still preserved in all its glorious
color, two nights on the shores of dramatic Lake Atitlán, colorful native markets, a visit to an
active volcano and much more! Of course, we will also visit colonial Antigua, and the justly famous Chichi
market. We'll also make a cross-border foray into Honduras to visit the Classic Maya ruins of Copán.
In addition to all this, a two-day extension to magnificent Tikal National Park will be offered.
Day 1, Tues. Oct. 23: Fly from home to Guatemala City; you will be met at the GUA airport and
taken 45 km to lovely Antigua Guatemala to settle into the Posada de Don Rodrigo, originally the
sumptuous home of a colonial aristocrat, now tastefully remodeled into an
attractive hotel. The "PDR" is very conveniently located just a block and a half from the main plaza of Antigua
and is a great place to headquarter while you are getting to know Antigua. For a preview, visit the PDR's webpage:
Posada de Don Rodrigo.
This evening you'll enjoy the refreshing climate of Antigua (altitude around 5020 ft) and start to get to know your
way around this romantic town. Antigua is an easy town to get about in. It is laid out on the traditional Spanish
rectangular grid, around a central plaza, or parque central. To maintain your orientation while walking around,
remember two things: if you are facing the huge dormant cone of Volcán Agua, you are facing south; if you are
facing the cross on the hill Cerro de la Cruz, you are facing north. And the Posada de Don Rodrigo is just a
little north of the Parque Central on the same street with the much-photographed landmark arch.
Free maps of Antigua are available at the front desk of the PDR; we recommend you carry one with you as you explore
the town. We also highly recommend that you buy a good guidebook for Guatemala before you begin this trip. You will find
it very useful. You can also buy guidebooks in the many bookstores in Antigua.
We'll have supper as a group, so that introductions can be made all around.
Day 2, Weds. Oct. 24: AM: We'll go on a half-day walking tour of Antigua, guided by Liz Bell, author of
one of the best Antigua guidebooks, who will take us to some of the more important colonial monuments, giving us a
cook's tour of places not normally accessible to visitors.
PM: Free time to explore more ruined churches, convents
and monasteries. Two sites not to miss: Capuchinas Convent and Santa Clara Convent.
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 website Monumental Antigua. A visit to the "Casa Popenoe",
a lovingly restored colonial home is a must for lovers of Spanish architecture and
period furnishings. (Note: This historic home was closed in 2008, but we hope it will be open again in 2012.) Anyone
really interested in the architecture of Antigua should look in one of Antigua's better book stores for a copy of
Verle Annis' scholarly tome The Architecture of Antigua Guatemala, 1543-1773. This long-out-of-print work has
recently been reprinted.
Alternatively, you can spend the afternoon boosting the local economy shopping for beautiful handwoven Maya textiles,
jade jewelry and other types of artesanía for which Guatemala is justly famous. A great place for
textiles and other native crafts is Nim Po't, on the same street as our hotel, just a block away walking toward and
through the landmark arch that bridges the street.
Second night at the PDR.
Day 3, Thurs. Oct. 25: AM: We'll board our private bus and head out of Antigua, passing between the soaring
cones of the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango, following a paved road that drops down to the Pacific coastal
plain. Near Escuintla we'll turn and head north through the hot country of sugar cane fields and cattle ranches.
After a brief refreshment stop at Los Cocales, we turn eastward and head back up into the cool volcanic highlands,
passing through vast coffee fincas (plantations) that blanket the fertile slopes of Volcán
Atitlán. As we approach the town of San Lucas Tolimán you'll get your first thrilling glimpses of
shimmering Lake Atitlán.
From San Lucas to the T'zutujil Maya town of Santiago Atitlán is just a short drive, but a very interesting one
as we will be passing through small plots of land tilled in traditional manner by Maya families. The contrast
between these small family fields and the great mechanized sugar cane fields of the coastal plain or the sprawling
coffee fincas that we passed through earlier is striking.
PM: We should arrive at the Posada Santiago, our home for the next two nights, in time for a late lunch. Food at the
Posada is great; for a snack we highly recommend the guacamol and homemade tortilla chips. The Posada is run
by an American ex-pat, David Glanville, and you will find him an interesting person to get to know; the Posada has an
unusual history and you should be sure to take a look at the humorous pamphlet in their library "The 24 Questions Dave
Just Won't Answer Anymore". For more information, visit the Posada's homepage and take their virtual tour..be sure to
click on "Activities" to see the tree dogs (David's sense of humor showing through!): Posada de Santiago.
The rest of the afternoon will be free time to relax, enjoy the Posada's lovely grounds, pool and hot tub, or go for a
swim in the lake (chilly) off the Posada's private dock. David makes killer margaritas, and this would be a good time
to indulge, if you are so inclined.
The more ambitious and restless might consider a 15-minute hike from the Posada to the Peace Park memorializing the
victims of a massacre committed here by the Guatemalan Army in 1990 during La Violencia, part of the Mayan
people's tragic history, but an instance in which a community stood up against oppressive authority and eventually won:
negative international publicity forced the Army to withdraw from Santiago.
Day 4, Fri. Oct. 26: This morning we will take a walking tour of the town of Santiago Atitlán, which in
pre-conquest days was the capital of the Tz'utujil Maya nation. Our guide will be Dolores Ratzan, a Tz'utujil woman
and native of Santiago, formerly married to an American author. Dolores will show us through the town with an insider's
knowledge. We will visit the ancient church of Santiago, see its altar carved by
native artisans and replete with Maya symbology, see the "navel of the earth", the town market, pay a visit to the
shrine of the native deity Maximón, and also learn about Santiago's tragic recent history during La
Violencia-- from which the town has recovered remarkably.
Santiago women still weave on the backstrap loom, and still wear their distinctive
traje (i.e., traditional clothing), which features a halo-like headwrap. To
see more photos of Santiago traje, as well as native costume from all over Guatemala, take a look at our website
on Traje of the Highland Maya.
After Dolores' guided introduction to Santiago you will have free time to visit the many crafts shops that line the main
street leading down to the town dock. Just be sure to remember your way back to the Posada de Santiago; should you
forget, you can always ask a local...and keep asking from time to time as you wend your way back through the town. Or,
if you speak some Spanish, you can hire a "tuk tuk" (a three-wheeled motorcycle cab) for Q5 to take you back to the
Second night at the Posada Santiago.
Day 5, Sat. Oct. 27: AM: You can have a relaxed morning today, no need for an early start today. You might
even have time for a dip in the hot tub by the pool. But be ready to leave around 10 AM to go to the town docks for a
cruise across the fabulously beautiful lake. (BTW, your luggage will go back on the bus to go around the lake and meet
you on the other side.)
11 AM: We will cross the lake by boat, enjoying the shifting views of the soaring volcanoes and cliffs ringing the
caldera lake. When the light is right, Lago Atitlán is a sapphire jewel Atitlán. On the far side of the lake we reach bustling Panajachel, largest of the lake towns, and
home to a seven-day-a-week street market of all kinds of textiles and crafts from all over Guatemala.
Upon docking at "Pana" we will go to lunch at the Posada de Don Rodrigo Panajachel, sister hotel to our Antigua home.
After lunch you may spend some time prowling the endless shops up and down the streets of Panajachel. Or you may want
to visit the very nicely done museum of archeology in the PDR. But be sure to be back at the Posada de Don Rodrigo's
parking lot at the hour specified by our guide (probably about 2:30 PM), so we can mount up and head out to
Chichicastenango via a steep road that climbs up and out of the dramatic, cliff-ringed Lake Atitlán caldera.
Our goal lies just an hour's drive from Pana, but we'll lengthen this slightly with a stop for photos from a wonderful
viewpoint overlooking the lake.
Chichicastenango-- the name, said to mean "the place of the stinging nettle"-- trips staccato off the tongue! O'Henry
once wrote that the Good Lord had wisely placed Guatemala by the coast so the map-makers could run the names off into
the ocean! But in practice, everyone shortens it to just "Chichi".
Chichi, has been an important K'iche' Maya market town for centuries, but with the advent of global tourism it has become
world-famous as probably (unquestionably in our experience) the most colorful native market in all the Americas.
Native traders come from all over Guatemala to offer an amazing variety of goods for local buyers and for turistas
as well. We will enter town in plenty of time to settle in to our hotel and then go out and get oriented and watch the
vendors setting up for tomorrow's big day. We've come to Chichi for market day, but you can start your shopping tonight
--some vendors will claim you get better prices before the real market day commences. Whatever the price, don't fail
to bargain...haggling is traditional, expected, and really a vital part of the market experience.
Our lodging tonight is the Mayan Inn, a famous old hostelry. The Mayan Inn has been
receiving guests for three quarters of a century. Each room is unique, and all are furnished with antiques, including
some colonial pieces of museum quality. The food is good, 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, check out this
website: Mayan Inn. A night in
the Mayan Inn is a memorable experience.
Day 6, Sun. Oct. 28: 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. Market day in Chichi is a glorious cacophany! 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 perhaps to show off your
newly acquired treasures to your fellow travelers.
Depending on when and where you eat lunch, you should have time for another short visit to the market, but by 2 PM we
need to be aboard the bus and heading out across the central highlands.
Upon joining the Panamericana, we will turn northwestward towards Huehuetenango, the most important city in
western Guatemala and capital of the department ("state") of that name. "Huehue" (pronounced "Way-Way") is about a four
hour drive from Chichi, with lots of remarkable scenery en route: the towering cone of Volcán Santa María,
the rugged central highlands, and the picturesque patchwork quilt of Maya agricultural plots blanketing improbable slopes.
But we won't have time for stops on this leg of our jouney, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery sliding by.
Upon arrival at Huehue, we will go directly to our lodgings at the Hotel Casa Blanca, not luxurious, but one of the better hotels in Huehue and centrally located.
Day 7, Mon. Oct. 29: Eat a hearty breakfast today, and be prepared for a dramatic ride up into the towering
Altos Cuchumatanes mountains. Our winding road will crest out at around 11,000 feet, then plunge down into a valley
hidden from the outside world, wherein, at an elevation of 8140 ft, lies the Mam Maya town of Todos Santos
Cuchumatán. If the weather is clear we'll stop at a mirador for an expansive view towards the Pacific
with volcanic cones rising like exclamation marks from the central highlands.
Todos Santos is a nearly completely Mam Maya town, with few non-Mam residing here. Most of the Mam still proudly wear
their traditional native dress, not just the women, but the men as well. Distinctive features of the Todos Santos
men's traje include the red and white striped pants, the split-legged dark
wool overpant (use of which seems to be dying out) and the finely striped shirt featuring huge, intricately decorated
collar. The Todos Santos women's huipil features a distinctive collar decorated with rick-rack. And the children
of Todos Santos are dressed just like their parents. For more information on the
native dress, visit our traje website.
Lunch today (included) will be at the Casa Familiar, one of the few places in Todos Santos where foreigners can
dine with confidence. And great shopping here, too, as the owners have a fine selection of Todos Santos textiles.
After lunch, time and personal energy levels depending, our guide may lead those interested on an uphill walk of a half
mile or so to the sacred place of Cumanchúm, an archeological site consisting of an ancient pyramid cluster. Some
of the mounds now topped by the weathered crosses made famous by anthropologist
Maud Oakes in her 1950s book "The Two Crosses of Todos Santos".
After our visit to Todos Santos, we will return to Huehue for a second night at the Hotel Casablanca.
Day 8, Tues. Oct. 30: We have a long way to go today, back to Antigua, and sites to see en route, so let's breakfast
early and load the bus at 8:30 AM. Our first stop is on the outskirts of Huehue, at the archeological site of Zaculeu.
Zaculeu was the capital of the Mam Maya nation at the time of the Spanish conquest, and was taken by the
conquistadores in 1525 only after a protracted siege and fierce resistance by the Mam. Archeological restoration
of Zaculeu was funded by United Fruit in 1948.
At Zaculeu we can see plastered pyramids and remains of temples with Mexicanized architecture. There is a restored
ballcocurt where the sacred (and deadly) Mesoamerican ball game was played. There is also a special feature near here
not seen by anyone except those who know to look for it: a pre-Columbian handprint preserved in original plaster
remaining on one of the ruined buldings. See if you can find it!
Next we mount up and head out in our trusty bus, headed back to Antigua, but by a new route and new scenery. Our drive
recrosses the highlands to the major town of Santa Cruz del Quiché. Here --time permitting-- we'll make a visit
just outside Quiché to the ruins of Utatlán, former capital of the K'iche' Maya, another native kingdom
conquered by the Spaniards. The conquistadores were pretty thorough in their destruction of this native city, so
the remaining structures are not terribly impressive. However, they are interesting, and there is a mysterious tunnel
underneath the complex, that no one seems to know who excavated or when. It is used today by the Maya for
costumbre, i.e., ritual cermony. You can explore this tunnel, but you need your flashlight to do so.
We'll be carrying box lunches with us today, and Utalán will be a good place to picnic.
After Utatlán, it's on to Chichicastenango for lunch. You'll hardly recognize the sleepy town as the same place
that was as busy as a beehive on market day!
For lunch we can all go back to the Mayan Inn, or, if you prefer, break up into smaller groups and eat at whichever
little restaurant struck your fancy when we were here earlier. But coordinate your time with our guide, for after
lunching we get back aboard our bus and head towards Antigua.
Once back in Antigua we will take up our familiar lodgings at the Posada de Don Rodrigo.
Day 9, Weds. Oct. 31: A full free day in Antigua! By now you know your way around this charming city and have
an idea which colonial ruins, museums, shops, and fine restaurants you still need to visit. We highly recommend a
mid-morning trip to nearby La Azotea Cultural Center (Azotea provides a shuttle service for under a dollar) where
you can tour a working coffee processing plant, experience Casa K'ojom museum of native music, and enjoy textile
displays, a video and other cultural exhibits. Or you can head out on your own to explore more ruins or visit any of
several museums in Antigua. 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 nearby 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. Use your guidebook and enjoy the day-- there is so much to see and enjoy in
This afternoon-- time and meeting place to be announced by our guide-- we will walk several blocks to the Casa de
Artes, a store featuring fine Mayan textiles (including antique pieces) and other high quality items. The owner is
very knowlegeable of the native textiles and will give us a talk on Maya weaving techniques. Now that you have seen
various different Maya costumes and many textiles in the markets, you will appreciate her illuminating talk.
After our visit to the Casa de Artes you will be free to go to supper where you choose. For fine dining, the
Panza Verde Restaurant is just a short walk from the Casa de Artes. If walking back to the PDR at night, it's a good
idea to have your Antigua map with you, and always remember the famous arch over Fifth Avenue is the unique landmark to
Second night in the Posada de Don Rodrigo.
Day 10, Thurs. Nov. 1: Today is Día de Todos Los Santos, that is, All Saints Day on the Christian
calendar. However, in parts of Mexico and Guatemala it is celebrated as the Day of the Dead. After breakfast, we
will board our bus for a short ride to the small highland Maya town of Santiago Sacatepéquez where the
celebration of the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) has become a noteworthy event. Families gather
in the cemetery to commune with the spirits of their ancestors, decorating graves with flowers and sharing a meal --including fiambre, a special food made only for this ceremony--
with the dead. And colorful barriletes (kites), some of which are
huge, are flown to the heavens
as a means of communication between the living and the dead.
Although families gather to remember deceased loved ones, the spirit of the occasion is one of a joyful
community fair: vendors sell refreshments in the cemetery (beer, even!), many
indigenous women are there dressed in their finest traje, there is a
queen and her court, and there is a judged competition for best kites, some of which
are decorated with religious themes, others with patriotic or environmental themes (global warming was a popular
subject in 2008!). Local people picnic amongst the graves, and visitors are welcome. You should be prepared for crowds,
and it may require a real effort on the part of our driver to extricate us from the jam of vehicles, but that's all part
of the fascinating experience.
For additional images and to get a better idea of what the Day of the Dead celebration is all about, we recommend you
take a look at the following website, but be sure to use your back button to return to our trip itinerary:
Third night at the PDR.
Day 11, Fri. Nov. 2: Today we are headed to Copán Ruins, which means crossing the border into neighboring
Honduras. This means passing through Guatemala City, then descending down into the great fault-controlled valley of the
Motagua River, driving through a surprising area of semi-desert, and twisting over a couple of mountain ranges to reach
Upon arrival at the small rural city of Copán we will take up our lodgings at the Hotel
Marina Copán. You will find the town charming, and full of
friendly people. If we arrive in time, we will visit the small Copán Museum on the square. Though somewhat
overshadowed in recent years by the larger Museum of Sculpture out at the archeological site, this little museum displays
some must-see treasures, most notably the large, exquisitely carved flint eccentrics, truly mind-boggling examples of fine
art by master flint-knappers.
For supper, the Marina Copán's restaurant is good, but for those who want to see more of the town, one of the
recommended eateries is Llama del Bosque Restaurant just two blocks west of the square.
Day 12, Sat. Nov. 3: 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 Museum of Sculpture, which houses many of the
finest Copán sculptures (some of the stelae that you will have seen in the ruins are well-done replicas, with the
originals moved into this museum for their preservation). [NOTE: At last word, the Museum of Sculpture was closed for
repairs; we hope it will be re-opened by the time of our trip, but for now, the Copán Museum is all the more
important as the only one open!]
Almost as enjoyable as the archeological wonders is the town of Copán itself. Copán is such a pleasant,
friendly country town, more laid back than Antigua, and a really nice place to spend a day.
For supper tonight, you might want to try the Nia Lola, a little two-story restaurant at the end of a street running south
from the central plaza. Food is good here, and the waitresses do a neat stunt while serving hot charcoal braziers of
delicious refried beans!
Second night at the Marina Copán.
Day 13, Sun. Nov. 4: Today we reluctantly leave endearing Copán, and yet with a certain degree of eagerness
in the knowledge that we are returning to wonderful Antigua Guatemala. The trip takes about five driving hours, but we'll
have stops at the border and for lunch, so we've got things to see and do en route! Once back in Antigua, we'll settle
into our comfortable digs at the PDR.
Day 14, Mon. Nov. 5: Another full free day in Antigua, if you like--and who wouldn't, for there remains much you
haven't seen and done yet! However, for those who can tear themselves away from Antigua's attractions, we have another
adventure planned: A hike up an active volcano!
For the energetic, a half-day trip to Volcán Pacaya National Park is planned. This involves an hour and a half
bus ride from Antigua to the park (departure time to be announced; sometimes we go in the morning, sometimes in the
afternoon, depending on the weather), followed by an uphill hike of about an hour and a half to the crest of an ancient
volcanic rim. From this rim you can get great views of the highly active cinder cone
of Pacaya. It is also possible to hike on another 15 minutes to approach within a few feet of an active lava flow,
something that is quite exciting! [N.B.: Due to a 2005 lava flow it is no longer practical to ascend the main peak.]
If we begin this excursion in the afternoon, the return hike down will be in the dark, returning to Antigua around 8 PM.
The trail is easy, but you do need a flashlight for night hiking. If the cone is in an explosive mode, you will
appreciate the timing of this excursion: the night views from the old crater rim can be quite spectacular with
For more on Volcán Pacaya, visit our website Pacaya Volcano.
Final night at the PDR.
Day 15, Tues. Nov. 6: Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Today is the day to fly out to the
U.S. (or wherever home is), carrying tons of photos, souvenirs, and memories of a remarkable country and even more
remarkable people, indigenous and Europeanized, historic and present. Along with these memories of a great trip, you
will carry with you a determination to return, for Guatemala is just too fantastic to visit only once!
For those with a little more time, the adventure is not over yet! We offer this two-day extension to the main trip
so that you can visit the world-famous Classic Maya ruins of Tikal, its dense tropical jungle, and wonderful wildlife.
Day 15, Tues., Nov. 6: Instead of flying back home, you will be picked up at the PDR early in the morning and
taken to the Guatemala City airport for the flight out to Flores, the airport serving Tikal. At the Flores airport
you will be met by a representative of the Jungle Lodge and board their bus for the hour-long ride to Tikal National Park.
Upon arrival at the Jungle Lodge you will leave your luggage at the reception desk and go on a guided introductory tour
of the sprawling archeological complex, passing through the great plaza, flanked by
the soaring pyramids of Temple I and Temple II, then on to Temple IV or elsewhere.
Depending on the interest and stamina of the group, this orientation tour can last two to four hours, so wear comfortable
walking shoes, and bring water, snacks and sunblock.
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. Keep alert and you'll see
parrots, toucans, toucanets, hummingbirds, oropendulas, the beautiful ocellated turkey,
and many other avian inhabitants of the jungle. And you'll almost certainly see foxes, guatuzas (agoutis),
pisotes (coatamundis), and spider monkeys. You might
also see howler monkeys, deer, peccaries, and small alligators in the water hole behind the visitors' center, 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 the mid-afternoon.
The guided visit will end back at the Jungle Lodge where you can have lunch (included), and then check into your
For the afternoon you may want to return to the ruins. Birdwatching and wildlife viewing improves in the late afternoon
and early evening. Recommended: an evening visit to the "Lost World" where the giant pyramid makes a great place to
await the sunset and to watch the jungle birds come in to roost for the evening. (The ruins are officially closed at 6 PM,
so a park guard may shoo you towards the entrance before dark. But just in case he can be talked into letting you stay
late, be sure to bring a flashlight for the walk back in the dark.)
Alternatively, you may want to visit the two Tikal museums, or enjoy the Jungle Lodge's small but refreshing swimming pool.
Tikal is really a wonderfuls site, but it is hot! Fortunately, November is cooler than most of the year.
Day 16, Weds, Nov. 7: Get up early-- You can watch the sun rise from high atop Temple IV. (Note: This is an extra
cost activity that needs to be arranged in advance. A guide is needed to get you into the ruins before the official
opening time of 6 AM. Enquire at the Jungle Lodge reception desk.) By getting into the ruins early you both improve your
chances of seeing wildlife as well as beating the heat.
If you are one of the early risers, you may want to come back to the Jungle Lodge for breakfast (which is included), and
then hit the ruins again to prowl and marvel amid crumbling jungle-encrusted temples,
palaces, causeways, pyramids, and numerous ruined edifices of unknown purpose.
Wherever you wander, you are sure to enjoy...however, do not fail to be back at the Jungle Lodge in time for the afternoon
bus (generally at 2 PM, but check with your Tikal guide or the Jungle Lodge reception desk to be sure) back to Flores for
the return flight to Guate City, where you will be picked up and returned to the PDR in Antigua for your last night in
Day 17, Thurs., Nov. 8: An airport shuttle will pick you up at the PDR and take you to the Guatemala City airport for your
international flight out. But we repeat-- we think you'll come back-- Guatemala is unforgettable, and it's impossible to
see all its wonders in a single visit, not even with Rutahsa Adventures!
Three little girls from Santiago Atitlán with a friend from another village.
COST OF THE 2012 EXCURSION:
- In 2010 this trip sold out at $2200 per person. This year, by revamping our pricing into tiers, we can offer an
even better travel bargain. The 15-day excursion is cost is:
- With a group of 14 - 16 participants,just $1825 per person (in double room accommodations).
- With a group of 11 - 13 participants, just $1985 per person (in double room accommodations).
- With a group of 8 - 10 participants, $2200 per person.
- Single room accomodations extra: $530. Because some of the hotels are small, single-room accommodations may not be
available at every lodging. Nonetheless, if you prefer a room for one, please say so and you will be accommodated to the
best of our ability. The cost will be adjusted downward should we be unable to get single rooms in all hotels.
- The main trip fee includes: lodging (double occupancy), all transportation in Guatemala, airport transfers, all
guided tours, hikes and events described in the itinerary, services of a bilingual guide, medical emergency and medevac
insurance, and a $25 tax deductible donation to Programa de Ayuda a los Vecinos del Altiplano (PAVA), that is, "Aid
Program for the Residents of the Highlands". PAVA is a very remarkable and very effective organization helping highland
Maya communities obtain schools, potable water supplies, critical bridges on access roads, and other greatly needed
facilities and infrastructure. The citizens of the communities must take the initiative to make requests of PAVA, and
must be willing to supply labor. PAVA representatives visit the villages to determine how best to answer their petitions;
PAVA raises funds and supplies engineering expertise, and PAVA volunteers work with the villagers to make these dreamed-of
improvements become realities. It is a truly inspiring program of outside aid combined with self-help. PAVA has
accomplished many small but great good works over the years, and Rutahsa Adventures is pleased to further their work by
way of this small contribution from each of our Guatemala travelers. For further information, visit PAVA's website:
- Not included in main trip fee: Meals (other than those specified as included in the itinerary, tips, international
transportation, Tikal extension, personal expenses (medicines, communications, souvenirs, etc.).
- Cost of the two-day Tikal extension is $445 in double room accommodations, and $505 in a single room. This extension
cost will include: transportation from Antigua to GUA airport, flight to Flores, transportation to Tikal National Park,
first day entry to the park, guided introductory tour of ruins with bilingual guide, first day lunch, Tikal museum entries,
overnight at the Jungle Lodge, 2nd day breakfast, 2nd day entry ticket, ground transportation back to FRS airport, return
flight to GUA, transfer back to Antigua, and overnight in the Posada de Don Rodrigo, and transfer back to GUA airport for
your flight home. Please note: Because this extension includes round trip flight from Guatemala City to Flores and
return, and because air fares are always subject to increase without warning, the cost of the extension cannot be guaranteed
until the flight tickets are purchased.
NOTE: Trip participation will be limited to 16 travelers. A minimum of 8 participants will be required to make the
To make an enquiry about our Guatemala 2012 Excursion, or to request an application blank, e-mail Ric Finch at
Rutahsa Adventures Guatemala Trip.
Starting in 1998, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel began recommending Rutahsa Adventures' Guatemala excursions. For
example, take a look at what Frommer's had to say about our 2002 Guatemala excursion: Frommer's 2002 review. And again, Frommer's recommends
our Day of the Dead trip.
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.