Smoking volcanoes spin by as a sea of Mayan weaving lurches from one side of the chicken bus to the other. With the Mayan majority on constant display, dramatic geography, and prices a student could love, for some, Guatemala is the quintessential Central American experience. One of its mandatory stops, incredible Antigua Guatemala, was once the capital of an enormous swath of the Americas. Frozen in time for centuries thanks to repeated earthquakes, today it has been impeccably restored in all its rubble and glory ... not to mention it's the best traveller's hub from here to Cuzco. From crater lakes to the ruins of Tikal, it's a miracle Guatemala is still off the radar for so many. Let's hope it stays that way.
Central America Explorer (CGCA)
The ultimate exploration of Mayan culture for those who want the complete experience but prefer a more comfortable option. Explore the ruins at Copán and Tikal, walk the cobblestones in the colonial cities of Suchitoto and Antigua, and take part in a Mayan tree-planting ceremony after a local lunch on breathtaking Lake Atitlán. From the Caribbean flavour of Livingston to lesser-visited El Salvador, your local CEO will show you the region’s hidden gems and make sure your trip burns brightly in your memory long after you've left this crossroads of Mayan culture.
Highlights: Explore ancient Mayan ruins and UNESCO World Heritage sites, meet local artisans and watch demonstrations of their traditional techniques, visit modern day Mayan communities and participate in a Mayan tree-planting ceremony, take a cooking class and enjoy the results for lunch
Antigua, Guatemala's most beautiful colonial city, is famous for its celebrations, and this unique 10-day adventure ensures you're there for Semana Santa—one of the most vibrant and colourful celebrations in all of Central America. Line the parade route along cobblestoned streets decorated in flower petals and take in religious processions on Good Friday. Search for cultural treasures at the famous Chichicastenango market and meet local Mayan villagers amidst the volcanic scenery of Lake Atitlán. See for yourself how timing is everything as you discover the splendour of Guatemala.
Highlights: Visit local indigenous villages, barter at the bustling local markets, catch the stunning volcano views over peaceful Lake Atitlán, watch the Holy Week processions and elaborate colourful carpets laid out in the streets in Antigua