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Best of Guatemala
During the first 14 days of the Best of Guatemala adventure option, Guatemala participants get to tour cities, cultural centers, archeological and historical sites of the famous Mayan civilization, markets, colonial structures, indigenous villages and ruins, etc. The program ends after the tours for those signing up for two weeks.
After the tours, those staying longer proceed to Quetzaltenango for 7 days of volunteering with the Guatemala reforestation program. Duties will include, promoting environmental consciousness among local people, tree nursery management, collecting seeds, filling soil bags, weeding the seedlings, planting and raising trees of local species such as alder, cypress, pine and eucalyptus.
Combining Adventure with Volunteer/Internships
You can combine the Best of Guatemala adventure program with volunteer abroad or internship overseas programs giving you an opportunity to proceed to volunteer/intern in your area of interest. You can also combine this program with the Guatemala Spanish Study Abroad program.
A sample schedule of our International Volunteer Guatemala Simply Adventure holiday option is provided below. This is a tentative schedule. The local country coordinator may change details of the trips to fit with local circumstances at the time of the tour.
1: Tuesday - Arrive
Guatemala City airport where
our Guatemala partners meet
you for transfer to the Marriott
Hotel for overnight accommodation.
Day 2: Wednesday: Early morning departure heading south of Guatemala City to the archaeological site of El Baul and La Democracia. At El Baul you will see an assortment of pre-Columbian statues; a begging jaguar and his humanoid partner; a squatting Olmecoid figure. Stop off the beaten path to see a huge head of a grinning idol. Proceed to the town of La Democracia where you will see gigantic sombre stone heads lining the central park and although little is know of these colossal sculptures, each one is chiseled from a single boulder. Afternoon transfer to Chichicastenango for overnight at the Mayan Inn.
Day 3:Thursday: Today is market day at Chichicastenango (ChichiŁ) and the village streets are transformed into a massive, colorful array of stalls piled high with goods for sale. Nowhere else in Guatemala will you find such a wealth of handicrafts, blankets, belts, masks, clay pots, gourds, machetes and locally grown vegetables. After market shopping, usually late afternoon, transfer to Quetzaltenango which is Guatemala's second largest city also known as Xela by the local population. Overnight at the Pension Bonifaz.
Day 4: Friday: Morning departure for Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan, the world's most beautiful lakeŁ. En route you will visit the quaint village of Zunil and its enclosed market where thousands of items are spread out over the earthen floor and tended by family members. You will also visit the open-air animal market of San Francisco El Alto and the Church of San Andres Xecul while passing through the beautiful Valley of Almolonga. Overnight at Hotel Atitlan.
Day 5: Saturday: Morning launch excursion to the picturesque Indian village of Santiago Atitlan, the ancient capital and religious center of the Tzutuhiles. Santiago's market stretches from street to street and it is here where you will see Maximon, a mysterious religious idol, being closely watched over by an entourage of confradias - a group of men assigned the responsibility of protecting the idol. Look for the exquisite cortes and huipiles worn by the woman of the village. Afternoon transfer to the Colonial city of Antigua for overnight at the Casa Santo Domongo Hotel.
Day 6: Sunday: Morning tour of Antigua which was founded by the Spaniards in 1543. The city is a beautiful blend of ruins, restored Colonial buildings, stylish arcades, cobbled streets and a festive market area. Places to be visited include: La Conception (the first convent for women in Antigua); the Palace of the Captains General (built in 1776 as a residence of the governor then called Captain General); the Church of San Francisco built in 1579 and originally used by students to study theology, philosophy, canonical law, mathematics and physics. If time permits, before re turning to Guatemala City, you will stop off at the Jade factory where jade is cut, polished and made into fine jewelry. Overnight at Marriott Hotel.
Day 7: Monday -Early morning drive through the Eastern part of Guatemala via the states of El Progresso and Zacapa to arrive at the border with Honduras. After immigration formalities you will drive to Copan to explore the beautiful stelae and temples. In the afternoon you will return to Guatemala territory to Rio Hondo for overnight at the Hotel Longarone.Day 8: Tuesday - Morning visit of the Quirigua archaeological site to see some of the most interesting and beautiful Maya stelae in zooomorphic form. Later your journey continues Puerto Barrios for overnight at the Green Bay Hotel.
Day 9: Wednesday - Morning launch excursion to the Caribbean town of Livingston for a bit of leisurely sightseeing before a late afternoon visit to the Castle of San Felipe where Lake Izabel and Rio Dulce intersect. Overnight Catamaran Hotel.
Day 10: Thursday -Relax and enjoy the lakeside activites of the local residents -- fishing, washing clothes, preparing boats for sail -- and then transfer to Flores which is home to a number of Guatemala's world-famous archaeological sites. Overnight Camino Real Tikal.
Day 11: Friday - Morning trip to Ceibal, the Maya archaeological site located near the banks of the La Pasion River. Ceibal stelae are among the finest and best-preserved sculptures of the late Classic Period. Later return to the Camino Real for overnight.
Day 12: Saturday - Today you will visit Yaxha (Great Water) which was, after Tikal and El Mirador, the third largest Maya city. Its ruins are extensive and of particular interest is its Solstice Observatory and massive pyramid complexes and acropolises. Return to Camino Real for overnight.
Day 13: Sunday - At Tikal you will visit the "Q" Complex, the Great Plaza, the Grand Jaguar and the Masks, the Palace of the Nobles and Pyramid IV. Pyramid IV is the highest of Maya pyramids, from the top of which a complete view of Tikal can be seen. After lunch you can visit the two local museums, which house some of the many pre-Columbian archaeological treasures, found in the area. Later return to Guatemala City for overnight at the Marriott. Program Evaluation.
Day 14: Monday: Free. Transfer to Guatemala city airport for those staying for 2 weeks. Transfer to bus station for bus trip to Quizaltenango for those proceeding to volunteer in Guatemala. Afternoon reception by Guatemala staff and placement with host family.
Day 15: Tuesday: Introduction to reforestation project and start of volunteer work.
Day 16 - 17: Continue to volunteer with reforestation project. Weekends are free.
Day 18: Friday - Evaluation of the reforestation volunteer work in the morning; volunteer work ends late morning. Afternoon is free.
Day 19-21: Free. Program Ends. Flexible farewell to host family and country coordinator. Those staying for more than three weeks proceed to extended volunteering , study abroad, or internship placement in Guatemala, the rest proceed to Guatemala city for transfer at leisure.
Guatemala Program Highlights
Volunteer placement is free for all those who sign up for our Spanish Study Abroad Program.
Xela; Buena Vista Los Corales, Cabricon, Guatemala,
Length of Program:
1 to 24 weeks.
2nd and 4th Wednesday of every Month. Plan on Arriving the day before.
Airport Arrival Time: Preferably by 11:00 AM
Accommodation and Meals:
During the Best of Guatemala Program tours, breakfasts will be provided plus lunches when in Tikal; all other meals are on you. During residence with host family, accommodation and 3 local Guatemalan home meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) are provided daily.
Most projects within 5 to 20 minutes walking distance from home. Projects further off can be reached by walking or by local bus at your expense and cost up to about USD 2.00 for a daily return trip to and from project. See specific project for details.
Mondays to Fridays. 4 to 5 hours daily.
For international volunteer Guatemala program fees, please click here.