GUATEMALA TRAVEL ADVENTURE
Guatemala, the Land of the Maya, is the place to travel for the cultural and
eco-adventure trip of a lifetime! With Mayan ruins to explore, volcanoes to
climb, vestiges of Spanish colonial history to marvel at, exotic tropical
jungle flora and fauna to observe, colorful native markets to bargain in, and
best of all, beautiful Mayan Indian people to get to know, who could ask for
Explore Mayan temples, climb a live volcano, swim in hot springs, hike cloud
forest trails in search of the Quetzal, haggle with modern Mayan merchants
in native markets.... Don't just dream of adventures, live them!
Join Rutahsa Adventures for a trip to Guatemala like no other trip offered by
any other tour service. We guarantee it. Reservations are now being taken
for the 1998 Guatemala travel adventure, a two-and-one-half week long excursion
scheduled for July 21-August 6 of 1998. The itinerary is described below.
Trip highlights include:
- ...witnessing, from as close as safety will permit, active Pacaya volcano erupt;
- ...haggling with Highland Maya merchants in the Chichicastenango market,
the most colorful native market in the Americas;
- ...prowling the romantic ruins of earthquake-shattered Spanish colonial
- ...hiking through cool dense cloud forest in search of the magnificent
quetzal bird, revered by the Maya;
- ...exploring the fabulous 1000-year old ruined city of Copán, with all its wondrous carved detail and
- ...swimmming and relaxing in hot springs;
- ...visiting the cultural highlights of bustling, cosmopolitan Guatemala
- ...boating across and hiking partway around breathtaking Lake Atitlán --declared by Aldous Huxley to be
the world's most beautiful lake-- nestled amongst soaring volcanic cones and
- ...straddling a plate tectonic boundary with one foot on the North American
plate and the other on the Caribbean plate;
- ...learning to pronounce wonderful polysyllabic Mayan names like
Chichicastenango, Quezaltenango, Totonicapán, and Panajachel.
- ...PLUS optional side trip to Tikal Ruins, famous for its pyramids soaring
out of the jungle, and for its abundant wildlife.
- ...PLUS much more! See the ITINERARY!
A 17-DAY TRIP TO GUATEMALA & HONDURAS FOR ONLY $1850!
Trip inscription fee of $1850* includes RT air fare from Nashville to Guatemala
City, all lodging, ground transportation, bilingual guide, most museum and
park entries, and country exit fees. Fee does not include meals, beverages,
souvenirs, or tips. [Allow $16-18 per day for meals in Guatemala.]
Trip will be priced at $1250* for travelers who prefer to make their own flight
arrangements or who wish to embark from a point of origin other than Nashville.
Tikal Extension: A 3-day extension of the trip to Tikal Ruins is offered for
an additional $300. Includes air fare from Guatemala City to Flores, bus to
Tikal National Park, park and museum entry fees, and two overnights at the
*This trip inscription fee is subject to change in the event of a major air
fare hike, or other cost changes beyond the control of Rutahsa Adventures.
Although the price is very economical, this is not a trip based on budget
accommodations or cheap transportation. All the hotels used are of good to
spectacular quality, and all possess a marvelous Central American ambience.
Ground transportation is by small bus. A maximum of 18 participants will be
allowed; as of 25 April 1998 three spaces remain. Reservations will not be
taken after May 12.
This trip is a unique experience: awesome scenery, wonderfully colorful
indigenous people, fascinating history, astounding archeological sites, lush
tropical jungle flora and exotic fauna, good food and some interesting geology
and geography thrown in to boot!
HOW TO GET ON BOARD
A deposit of $450 is required to secure a space on this excursion. This
deposit will be 100% refunded if the trip is cancelled for any reason. For
further information, or to send in your deposit, please contact:
Dr. Richard Finch
Dept. of Earth Sciences
Tennessee Technological Univ.
Cookeville, TN 38505
Tues. 7/21: Fly from U.S. to Guatemala City; stay at the Pan
American Hotel just off the Plaza Nacional, the heart of the capital city.
Afternoon walking tour of the Palacio Nacional, national cathedral, and central
Weds. 7/22: Visit the amazing giant relief map of Guatemala on the
outskirts of the city. Next, leave Guatemala City for Copán, descending
from the volcanic highlands into the semi-desert of the upper Motagua Valley
with brief stops en route at little known archeological sites. Enter Honduras
via a backwoods border crossing that looks like a scene from a movie about
banana republics. Overnight at Copán Ruinas in the first-class Hotel
Thurs. 7/23: Walking tour of Copán Ruins, the splendid new
Museum of Sculpture, the smaller old Copán Museum, and the interesting
town of Copán itself. Copán Ruins are the partially excavated
and restored remains of a major Classic Maya city over 1000 years old. It is
most famous for the abundance of sculpture found in abundance on the temple and
palace walls, and in the form of statues, known as stelae, depicting the kings of Copán.
Another famous sight is Copán's fine ceremonial ballcourt. Second night at the Hotel Marina
Fri. 7/24: Return to Guatemala and drive north up into the high
Chuacús Mtns. Many things to see en route, geological, colonial, and
scenic, and a climate change ranging from desert to cool cloud forest.
Overnight at the Park Hotel near the Indian town of Purulhá.
Sat. 7/25: Up before daylight for a short drive to a place where
the magnificent quetzal bird can be seen feeding in the early morning. The
quetzal, a near-indescribable bird covered in shimmering metallic emerald
plumes, is one of the world's most beautiful creatures. The long plumes of
the male were reserved for the use of Maya nobility.
After breakfast, we go into a biosphere preserve for a hike up into the
mist-shrouded cloud forest lush with giant
hardwoods, tree ferns, bromeliads, orchids, and, for the lucky quiet hiker,
possible glimpses of wildlife.
Next, we continue on across the mountains to the important coffee-growing
town of Cobán. Here pause we for a bite of lunch, then roll on down the
road past the end of the pavement onto a long gravel road across rugged karstic
mountains, through coffee country, and finally precipitously down to the
lowland town of Lanquín and the Hotel El Recreo. Nearby are the famous
Grutas de Lanquín, and we should arrive in time to witness the evening
Sun. 7/26: Today we visit the fabulous Semuc Champey. This natural
wonder defies description: a bridge of spring-deposited travertine, completely
covering over the Río Cahabón for several hundred meters. The
upper surface of the bridge consists of a series of clear
green pools, perfect for swimming, each
cascading over a travertine dam into the next
pool down. The tranquil jungle setting with
its overhanging cliffs, lush with trees, ferns and vines, belies the fact that
underneath the pools is a seething, raging
torrent, visible (with care!) at both the upper and lower entrances to the
tunnel. We will swim, picnic, and marvel at this bit of jungle paradise.
A visit to the Semuc Champey is not to be forgotten in a lifetime. But like
every worthwhile experience, there is a price to pay....the three-hour,
bun-pounding drive out and back! So before the afternoon is over, we must load
up and return to Cobán, where we will enjoy a cooler climate and rest up
from the bouncy road in the charming colonial-style Hotel La Posada. Delicious
Mon. 7/27: Today is a long day on the road, travelling from
Cobán via Ruta 7 along the Río Chixoy valley, then up into the
Altos Cuchumatanes mountains to the town of Nebaj. Nebaj is the principal
town in the Ixil Triangle, an area that was especially hard-hit during the
guerrilla warfare in the early 1980s. We may learn something of this wartime
legacy while here. Women of Nebaj wear one of the most elaborate and beautiful
of all the many native costumes in Guatemala; in fact, the Nebaj traje has won an international
judging of native costumes of the world. Lodging in the Posada de Don Pablo,
a small hotel, but pretty luxurious for a mountain town far off the beaten path
like Nebaj-- hot water and private bathrooms!
Tues. 7/28: A morning hike in the mountains surrounding Nebaj is
planned, however those who prefer not to hike may remain in the town of Nebaj.
Both hikers and non-hikers will spend the day becoming more familiar with the
lifestyle of the Highland Maya. An afternoon outing by bus is planned to a
nearby town, where the indigenous costume will be completely different from
that of Nebaj. Overnight again in the Posada de Don Pablo.
Weds. 7/29: Leave Nebaj after lunch for Chichicastenango. The road
is an all-weather gravel road, crossing the central volcanic highlands. We
regain the pavement in the departmental capital of Santa Cruz del
Quiché, then continue another 20 km to Chichicastenango.
In Chichi we stay in the internationally renowned Mayan Inn, consisting of several century-old buildings converted
into a beautiful hotel furnished with antiques, including many Spanish
colonial-era pieces of museum quality. The Mayan has been sheltering tourists
ever since the 1930s, and possesses an ambience that no new hotel can create.
Thurs. 7/30: Market day at Chichicastenango: the most colorful
native market in all the Americas. Mayan
Indians come from all over Guatemala to sell their colorful cloth goods,
wood carvings, candles, necklaces, pottery, musical instruments, vegetables,
pigs and chickens, etc. The cloth goods include a wonderful variety of
clothing, tapestries, wall hangings, blankets, sashes, shawls and purses that
make great bargain souvenirs.
At 3 PM, we leave for Quezaltenango, crossing the continental divide around
10,000 ft en route. Our hotel in Quezaltenango is the elegant Pensión
Fri. 7/31: If the weather is good, we will get up at 5 AM and drive
up the backside of Santa María Volcano, then hike a short distance
through some amazing vegetation to the
Santiaguito Overlook. Here we can see the giant 1902 explosion crater and the
steaming, rumbling lava dome that has pushed up into the center of the crater
since 1922. Then back to the Pensión Bonifaz for breakfast.
Afternoon: those who want can have a free afternoon getting to know the
interesting town of Quezaltenango; those who prefer can take an outing in the
van to a hot springs spa about 20 km distant from the city. Overnight again
in the Pensión Bonifaz.
Sat. 8/1: Leave in the morning for Lago
Atitlán, a dramatic, shimmering sheet of water sunk in a volcanic
caldera with three giant volcanic cones rising up beside it. At the town of
Panajachel we will take a chartered boat across the lake to the Tzutuhil town
of Santiago Atitlán. Here we will overnight at the Posada Santiago,
a small hotel run by a couple of gringo ex-pats who have settled into Santiago
beguiled by the incomparable beauty of the lake and its volcanic peaks. In
Santiago we will see another beautiful native costume, and there will likely
be opportunities to see how the traditional backstrap weaving is done by the women. Those who like to swim can
join the Indian kids swimming in the nippy waters of the lake.
Sun. 8/2: Boat to the village of San Marcos La Laguna and begin a
4-hour hike along the cliffs overlooking the dramatic lake. We meet our boat
again at the end of the hike, and return to Panajachel. At 3 PM we are on the
road for Antigua Guatemala, the former Spanish colonial capital of the Kingdom
of Goathemala. In Antigua, we will stay at the Posada de don Rodrigo, a
colonial home turned into a hotel, complete with several patios, antiquefurnishings, and a daily
Mon. 8/3: Walking. All day getting to know Antigua, exploring
its vast earthquake-shattered ruins, sampling
its terrific variety of restaurants, shopping for jade, or more native cloth
goods, or just hanging out. Second night at the Posada de don Rodrigo.
Tues. 8/4: Up early and off to climb active Volcán Pacaya.
This is a fairly strenuous but non-technical climb. Depending on the nature of
the eruptive activity, we will climb to the very peak and peer over into the
fuming crater. If the volcano is in an explosive phase we may delay the climb
until the afternoon, in order to watch the
volcanic fireworks at night.
Those who do not wish to have a strenuous hike can spend another day
exploring Antigua; there's sure plenty to see and do here.
Weds. 8/5: Tour a jade factory in the morning. After lunch we
clear out of our hotel rooms and load the van. On our way out of town we
visit the Casa Popenoe, a 17th-century mansion lovingly restored and featuring
the finest collection of authentic colonial furnishings in the country. Drive
45 km into to Guatemala City, and overnight once again in the Hotel Pan
Thurs. 8/6: Those who end their Guatemala excursion today will be
taken to the international airport to catch the flight back to the U.S. Those
taking the optional 3-day Tikal Extension will board a local carrier and fly
out to the town of Flores in the hot Petén lowlands.
3-DAY TIKAL EXTENSION: Fly over much of the mountainous terrain we
crossed by road from Cobán to Chichi, and on north to Flores, the last
Maya stronghold to fall to the Spanish conquistadores (not until 1697). Here
we'll be taken by the bus to the rustic Jungle Lodge inside Tikal National Park.
Thursday afternoon spent exploring the sprawling, jungle-covered ruins of
this spectacular Classic Maya urban center. Tikal is most famous for its
soaring pyramids, but the flora and fauna
make the site as fascinating as the huge ruins
themselves. Common birds include parrots, toucans, mot-mots, oropendulas,
oscellated turkeys, and hummingbirds. Commonly seen animals include spider
monkeys, foxes, agoutis, coatimundis and bats; javelina, howler monkeys,
alligators, and other creatures are also sometimes sighted.
Fri. 8/7: Today's options include: guided early morning wildlife
walk, all day exploring the mammoth ruins, part of the day lounging in the
Jungle Lodge's pool, or, a day-trip by 4WD vehicle to the little-visited ruins
of Uaxactún, about 23 km north of Tikal. Overnight again in the Jungle
Sat. 8/8: Half day seeing more of Tikal ruins and visiting the Tikal
Museum. After lunch, bus back to the airport to catch the afternoon flight
back to Guatemala City. Final night in the Pan American.
Sun. 8/9: Back out to the airport again, to catch the flight back
to the good old U.S. of A., carrying back a pile of souvenirs and memories
that will last a lifetime.
MAKE YOUR RESERVATION NOW.
Thanks for visiting!
PARTICIPATION IS LIMITED TO 18! As of 15 April 4 spaces remain.
Images on this webpage by Janie and Ric Finch, @copyrighted.