Semana Santa - Easter in Guatemala

Valid for all trips departing January 1st, 2014 - December 31st, 2014 Last Updated:
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Introduction

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.

  • 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
Duration: 10 days
Start/Finish City: Antigua to Antigua
Service Level: Upgraded
  • All the adventure you want, with a softer landing
  • Handpicked, character-rich accommodations with upgraded amenities services
  • Upgraded and private transport, including flights to maximize time
  • More included meals, activities and transfers
Physical Grading: 2
There'll be some light walking and hiking. Suitable for most fitness levels. Nothing too challenging.
Travel Style: Comfort
Great adventures with a few extra frills along the way.

Looking for a little extra from your adventure but don’t want to skip out on all the genuine experiences? Comfort is your ticket. These trips offer upgraded accommodations and more inclusions while still delivering plenty of freedom to pursue spontaneous situations on your own.

Please note: The Comfort Travel Style is a renamed edition of the G-Plus, our collection of comfort-themed adventures. Same great trips, more descriptive name!

Trip Type: Small Group
Group trips average 12 travellers per departure, depending on the adventure. The maximum is usually no more than 16, but some can be smaller or bigger, depending on the trip. Check individual trips for details.

Itinerary

Route map for Semana Santa - Easter in Guatemala (CGEM)

Day 1 Antigua

Arrive Antigua at any time. There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and enjoy this charming city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members.

Guatemala is a small country, yet offers a wide variety of geography, climates and people. Its mountains and volcanoes are a magnet for climbers and hikers; the northern Petén region’s dense jungle and glorious Mayan past draw archaeology and wildlife enthusiasts alike; and the colourful highland towns and villages with their smiling residents are sure to leave their mark on the memories of your travels.

Antigua is a short 45 km from Guatemala City on a lovely winding road. The natural scenery is some of the most beautiful anywhere, with high mountain peaks surrounding deep valleys and every inch of land covered with lush growth.

Note: As Antigua is less than an hour’s drive from the Capital, airport transfers are easily arranged locally, whether you are starting or ending your tour in Antigua.

Day 2-4 Lake Atitlán/Jaibalito (3B)

Travel to Lake Atitlán and catch our boat to the small town of Jaibalito, our base for the next 3 nights. From here we explore indigenous villages on the Lake as they prepare for the Holy Week processions. We also visit the vibrant Chichicastenango market.

Jaibalito is a small village on the shore of Lake Atitlán, known for its tranquility. It is accessible only by boat and foot trail and offers stunning views of the volcanoes and lake. The area is also ideal for outdoor pursuits like swimming, fishing, wind surfing, hiking, bird watching, kayaking, and horseback riding.

A visit to Guatemala would not be complete without the chance to visit to the famous market of Chichicastenango. Renowned for its colourful handicrafts and intricate weavings, “Chichi” is also an important trading place for the local residents, and provides close views of daily life of modern Maya.

After bargaining over beautiful textiles and taking in all of the sights and sounds of the market, travel to the shores of Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán. Volcanoes and small indigenous villages surround this pristine lake, truly one of the most beautiful spots in Central America. Twelve native villages, blue/grey mountains and three volcanoes line the shores of this lake resulting in a wonderful combination of unusual natural beauty and traditional culture. We have the chance to admire some of the villages of Lake Atitlan on an included boat tour. The towns will be be abuzz preparing for Holy Week processionals and activities, so our timing is just right to get a taste of the fervour that surrounds this holiday time.

Panajachel is a relatively modern town with paved streets in its centre and a great deal of old world flavour and charm. The best way to see Panajachel is on foot, but pay attention to where you’re going as there aren’t any street signs. Visit the old churches and explore the back streets to see the more traditional side of Panajachel. You’ll have the opportunity to visit the villages on the lake by boat, departing in the mornings and returning in late afternoon. Get ready for spectacular views of the surrounding volcanoes, and everyday life in a highland village. The people of this area have received tourists for some time, and are friendly and ready to smile at strangers as readily as they will at a life long friend.

Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours
Approximate Distance: 80 km

Day 5-9 Antigua (5B)

We return to Antigua to spend more time to explore the city, shop, and of course to enjoy the Semana Santa celebrations. A cultural walking tour of Antigua is also included.

Antigua is the old capital of Guatemala and as the seat of the Spanish colonial government, was once the most important city in all of Central America. Enjoy the beautiful architecture of this UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Take a mountain bike ride out into the countryside or explore the fascinating markets, shops and museums within the city.

Once the third largest city in all of Spanish America, Antigua served as Guatemala’s capital city for more than 200 years until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. Modern Antigua is a peaceful, partially restored colonial city that is a pleasure to explore. Walk through quiet cobble-stoned streets past rebuilt stucco homes with heavy, beautifully carved wooden entrances. The point of reference for finding one’s way around Antigua is the Central Park, which is directly in the centre of town and the place to be in the late afternoon/early evening. You can pick up a map from the tourist office located on the ground floor of the Palace of the Captains General on the south side of the Central Park. Explore the museums, the colonial buildings and other sites in this delightful town and don’t forget to try some famous Guatemalan coffee.

Antigua offers three specialties that make shopping here very worthwhile. Textiles sold here and in the nearby towns are of the highest quality, beautifully designed and woven on foot looms or the more traditional back strap loom. Jade, in the form of carved statues and jewellery, is sold in several factories and shops in town and silver jewellery is sold in the better shops and also in a silver factory in nearby San Felipe de Jesus. The city offers good buys in ceramics and antiques as well.

When we arrive in Antigua, Semana Santa, or Holy Week, will be in full swing, and there will be plenty to see and experience. As home to the world's largest Holy Week celebration, the spectacular Easter festivals here are beyond comparison. On Good Friday, residents begin laying down painstakingly detailed, hand-crafted natural carpets of "Corozo" flowers, pines and and dyed sawdust that they have made to cover the cobblestone streets where the processions will pass. We will have the opportunity to join in building one of these elaborate carpets.

Early in the morning, elaborate processions begin, slowly moving the heavy, palm-decorated "Anda" (a type of special float) of Christ along the streets in a sombre re-enactment of his crucifixion. An honour passed down from generation to generation, the men involved in the processions, known as "Cucuruchas", wear purple cloaks (symbolizing mourning) and hold burning incense as they walk. Amongst themselves they will take turns carrying the Anda, which can weigh several hundred kilograms.

The religious celebrations continue on Holy Saturday, with funeral processions in honour of the Virgin Mary. It is often the local women who will bear the weight of this Anda, dressed in their best clothes and sometimes high heels.

On Easter Sunday, or Palm Sunday, the joyful celebration of the resurrection of Christ begins, with festivities happening throughout the streets of Antigua. The procession on this day carries the Anda of Christ robed in white with the frequent sounds of bells, applause, and fireworks to demonstrate the festivity of the moment.

In between observing these ceremonies, you may choose to climb a nearby volcano, mountain bike through the countryside or just relax in a pleasant street side café.

Day 10 Antigua (1B)

Depart Antigua at any time.

What's Included

Arrival transfer. Observing the religious processions on Good Friday. (Antigua). Cultural walking tour of Antigua. Chichicastenango market visit. Boat ride around Lake Atitlán to visit several indigenous villages. Participate in building one of the elaborate and colourful carpets on the streets on Antigua. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

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

Dossier Disclaimer

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Itinerary Disclaimer

While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Important Notes

1) Antigua's nearest airport is approximately one hour away in Guatemala City.

Group Leader Description

All G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders, a G Adventures representative, or an expedition team. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting- we think it's the best of both worlds.

Group Size Notes

Max 15, Avg 10.

Meals Included

9 breakfasts.

Meals

Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.

Meal Budget

Allow USD190-280 for meals not included.

Transport

Private van, boat, walking.

Solo Travellers

We believe single travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and single travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.

Accommodation

Comfort hotels (9 nts).

My Own Room

Please note that if you have booked the "My Own Room" option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops on tour.

Joining Hotel

Hotel El Carmen
3a. Avenida Norte #9, La Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
Antigua
Guatemala
502) 7832-3850 or 53

Please note for the April 13th, 2014 departure the hotel will be:

Hotel Las Farolas
9ª Calle Poniente y 5ª. Avenida Sur La Antigua
Antigua
Guatemala
+(502) 7832-1913

Joining Instructions

All Comfort Tours include Arrival Transfer

**Please note, the arrival transfer included occurs on Day 1 of the tour. If you plan to arrive prior to Day 1, you will be required to arrange pre-tour accommodation through G Adventures to be eligible for the transport from the airport. Due to customer experience and quality considerations, all services related to the tour must be continuous.

Please make your way to the hotel on your own. The best way to get to the arrival point hotel is by taxi from the airport – there are fixed rates at the airport counter (approximately $25 USD or 200 quetzales). It is a 1 hour drive from Guatemala City (where the international airport is located) to Antigua, where the joining point hotel is located.

Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned, so you may arrive at any time. Similarly the last day is a departure day in which no activities are planned. Your CEO will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. Your Leader will contact you at the hotel on Day 1 and make sure you are settled comfortably. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.

Arrival Complications

We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details. If you have pre-booked an airport transfer and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.

Emergency Contact

Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Local Operator (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

AIRPORT TRANSFER
If you have purchased an arrival through G Adventures or if an arrival transfer is included in the cost of your tour, please note that:

Your arrival transfer has been arranged based on flight information provided to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel.

EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Office San Jose, Costa Rica
During Office hours (Weekdays 9am-5pm Local Time): +506 2224 5560
After hours emergency number: +506 8322 9140

If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.

Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0844 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 01805 70 90 30 00
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999

What to Take

We recommend the use of a duffel bag or backpack (whichever you find easiest to carry). A good size daypack is also essential.

Checklist

- USD cash
- Credit and/or debit card (see spending money)
- G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and trip details
• Passport (with photocopies)
• Travel insurance (with photocopies)
• Airline tickets (with photocopies)
• Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
• Camera and film
• Reading/writing material
• Binoculars
• Cover for backpacks
• Pocketknife
• Money belt
• hand sanitizers/ antibacterial wipes
• Fleece top - Windproof/waterproof jacket - Small towel and swim wear
• 4 shirts/t-shirts
• Sun hat
• 2 pair of shorts
• 2 pairs of long trousers
• 1 pair hiking pants/track pants
• Hiking boots/ sturdy walking shoes
• Sport sandals - very useful!
• Bathing suit
• Sunblock
• Sunglasses
• Toiletries (biodegradable)
• Watch or alarm clock
• Water bottle
• Flashlight
• First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, motion sickness tablets if need, DEET bug repellent, extra prescription drugs you may be taking).
• You may also wish to bring a Spanish – English phrase book or dictionary

Laundry

Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge. There will be times when you may want to or have to do your own laundry so we suggest you bring non-polluting/biodegradable soap.

Visas

All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. IT'S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE THE CORRECT TRAVEL DOCUMENTATION.

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Money Exchange

Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances. Visa cards are the most widely accepted cards. While ATMs are widely available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work in Latin America. Check with your bank. You should be aware that to purchase products or services on a credit card a fee of 5%-10% usually applies. Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of US dollars cash and cards with travellers cheques as backup is best. Always take more rather than less, as you don't want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.

CURRENCY EXCHANGE TIP: Please be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded may be difficult to exchange. It is best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than 100USD (or equivalent).

GUATEMALA ATMs: Please note that daily withdrawal limits in this country are extremely low, currently set at 1000 quetzales - less than 140 USD. It is advisable to arrive with enough cash, if your daily needs exceed this amount.

As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com

Emergency Fund

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!

Departure Tax

Guatemala airport exit tax: 20Q ($3USD)

Tipping

It is customary in Latin America to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected - though not compulsory - component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. You may do this individually, or your CEO will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $5-10 USD per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture.

Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures CEO did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $10-15 USD per person, per week can be used.

Optional Activities

Antigua (Guatemala):
City tour $5 - $20
Climb volcanoes $10-$12
Bicycle rental/tour $5 - $19
Coffee /Macadamia Plantation tour $10
Salsa lessons $4/hr
Mayan Horoscopes $27

Panajachel:
Bicycle rental $1.60/hr
Kayak rental $2/hr
Horseback riding $50 (full day)
Volcano climb $10
Nature Hike $5


All prices are per person (unless stated otherwise), and are subject to change as services are provided by third party operators.

Health

Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that quite often we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings for trip specific information. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveller from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our CEO they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.

Safety and Security

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your CEO has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it is deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Your CEO will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgment when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Protests and Demonstrations- Protests and demonstrations, even those that are well intended, have the potential to turn violent with no warning. Counter protests can also turn violent. Action by security forces to disperse demonstrators and protesters may occur at any time. If you are in an area where demonstrators or protesters are gathering, avoid the temptation of staying for a good photo opportunity and leave the area immediately.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards) have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk.

We take all prudent measures in relation to your safety. For ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling, please visit:


www.gadventures.com/travel-resources/safety/

Medical Form

Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility' is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day's activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.

The medical questionnaire can be found online at:

www.gadventures.com/medical-form
.

A Couple of Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your CEO, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy please bear in mind that all clients must have medical coverage and that we require a minimum coverage of USD 200,000 for repatriation and emergency rescue. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.

Trip Specific Responsible Travel

On this tour you may have the opportunity to visit the following Planeterra projects:

OPEN WINDOWS FOUNDATION
Open Windows is a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities for children in the community of San Miguel Dueñas. Programs offered by Open Windows are free and have supported over1,500 children in the areas of literacy, computer skills, tutoring and art with priority given to those who have greater financial need. A scholarship program is offered to children who show great interest in learning and strong dedication to studying and for those in need of medical support, a health clinic is open free to the community twice each month.

Although the town of San Miguel Duenas is situated just twenty minutes from the wealthy tourist center of Antigua, it does not benefit from its proximity. It has a substantially lower standard of living (the average monthly income is less than $80, and many homes do not have running water or electricity) and level of education. The need to improve education is huge. In Guatemala the literacy level is only 71%, the average child completes only five and a half years of school, more than half fail 1st grade, and only 1% of the population reads for pleasure.

San Miguel Duenas is an agricultural town of 12,000 people, of which 4,000 are school-aged children and yet only 2,000 attend school. The rest do not go for various financial and cultural reasons. Instead of attending school many children must help provide for their families by picking coffee. This has resulted in an exceptionally low literacy rate in this community.

There are NO other libraries or computer centers in San Miguel Dueñas (not even the four local schools have either of these facilities). Open Windows, therefore, aims to improve the living conditions of the economically deprived children from in and around the town, by providing access to important educational resources through its services which the community has come to depend on.

How You Can Help
Each year we work with the staff of Open Windows to identify the needs of the project. G Adventures pays all administration costs so that 100% of each donation goes to the projects we support. It costs $500 USD to send one child to school for one year. This provides enough funds to cover the cost of the child’s uniform, school fees, books and school supplies. Highschool is six years in duration which means that by raising just $3,000 USD we can help one child further their education giving them the confidence and ability to access better jobs and create a brighter future.

While our goal is to raise funds to support the Open Windows Scholarship program, travellers can also help make a difference by visiting the Open Windows project while on your G Adventures tour and donating the following items:
• School supplies (i.e. pens, pencils, notebooks)
• Art supplies (i.e. yarn, crochete hooks, paint)
• Children’s clothes (i.e. T-shirts)
• Running shoes (new and used)
• Mouse pads and earphones to be used with the computers
• Toys to be used for the reading points program
• Over the counter medicine to be used in the health clinic (i.e. Tylenol, cough medicine etc.)

It is possible to visit this project on most tours that pass through Antigua, Guatemala. To arrange a visit please speak to your G Adventures CEO who can arrange this for you.

CORNERSTONE FOUNDATION
The Cornerstone Foundation is a registered non-profit humanitarian service organization that offers a variety of valuable programs to people in need in the small town of San Ignacio, Belize.

The programs offered through the Cornerstone Foundation have constantly been evolving and are based on specific needs within the community.

Relief & Aid
Through this program seniors, the ill and disabled are supported by a weekly food program whereby food such as rice, beans and meat when available are delivered to their homes. Children whose families cannot afford to provide them with food at lunch are able to participate in Cornerstones’ basic but nutritious lunch feeding program.

HIV/AIDS Education
HIV infection in Belize is the highest in Central America. This program collaborates closely with other local efforts to raise community awareness of high-risk behaviors, provides support for those who are living with AIDS, and conducts activities to change attitudes and reduce stigmatization.

Women's Issues
Supporting the move of local women towards greater independence and self-sufficiency is the focus of this program. Self-esteem building, ending domestic violence, training peer counselors, and teaching job skills are part of this program.

Disabilities
This program serves individuals, families, caregivers, teachers and others, helping to meet the physical, social, emotional, and material needs of the disabled. Belize has minimal information about special needs, limited physical therapy, nearly no equipment, and few professionals trained to work with learning and other disabilities.

Literacy
Although English is the country's official language, most Belizeans grow up speaking local indigenous languages instead. Cornerstone's Literacy and English Second Language (ESL) classes are offered to children, adults, developmentally disabled students which improves their ability to participate more fully in Belizean society and the economy.

How You Can Help
Each year we work with the staff of Cornerstone to identify the needs of their programs. In the past we have supported Cornerstone’s Literacy and Disabilities programs and with your support we can help with continued annual donations through the Planeterra Foundation. G Adventures pays all administration costs so that 100% of each donation goes to the projects we support.

It is possible to visit the Cornerstone project office on some tours that pass through San Ignacio, Belize. To arrange a visit please speak to your G Adventures CEO.

For more information about these projects and/or to make a donation please visit our website at www.planeterra.org or contact us at info@planeterra.org

Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation

Through our commitment to responsible tourism we have developed the Planeterra Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of people and communities around the world through support of international charities, local organizations and community projects in the places that we visit on our tours. G Adventures matches all individual donations and pays all administration costs, which means that 100% of each donation is doubled and goes directly to support our projects. For more information about Planeterra and the projects we support, or to make a donation, please visit www.planeterra.org

Planeterra Dollar-A-Day Program
Our Dollar-A-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to help us give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar per day for the duration of their tour. 100% of these proceeds will go directly to support our Planeterra projects.

To participate in this program please indicate at the time of booking that you would like to participate in G Adventures’ Dollar-A-Day program, either by clicking the check box online, or by advising your G Adventures specialist or travel agent. (Note: Donation will be charged in the currency of your booking)

Associated Planeterra Project

On this tour you may have the opportunity to visit the following Planeterra project:

OPEN WINDOWS FOUNDATION
Open Windows is a non-profit organization that provides educational opportunities for children in the community of San Miguel Dueñas. Programs offered by Open Windows are free and have supported over1,500 children in the areas of literacy, computer skills, tutoring and art with priority given to those who have greater financial need. A scholarship program is offered to children who show great interest in learning and strong dedication to studying and for those in need of medical support, a health clinic is open free to the community twice each month.

Although the town of San Miguel Duenas is situated just twenty minutes from the wealthy tourist center of Antigua, it does not benefit from its proximity. It has a substantially lower standard of living (the average monthly income is less than $80, and many homes do not have running water or electricity) and level of education. The need to improve education is huge. In Guatemala the literacy level is only 71%, the average child completes only five and a half years of school, more than half fail 1st grade, and only 1% of the population reads for pleasure.

San Miguel Duenas is an agricultural town of 12,000 people, of which 4,000 are school-aged children and yet only 2,000 attend school. The rest do not go for various financial and cultural reasons. Instead of attending school many children must help provide for their families by picking coffee. This has resulted in an exceptionally low literacy rate in this community.

There are NO other libraries or computer centers in San Miguel Dueñas (not even the four local schools have either of these facilities). Open Windows, therefore, aims to improve the living conditions of the economically deprived children from in and around the town, by providing access to important educational resources through its services which the community has come to depend on.

How You Can Help
Each year we work with the staff of Open Windows to identify the needs of the project. G Adventures pays all administration costs so that 100% of each donation goes to the projects we support. It costs $500 USD to send one child to school for one year. This provides enough funds to cover the cost of the child’s uniform, school fees, books and school supplies. Highschool is six years in duration which means that by raising just $3,000 USD we can help one child further their education giving them the confidence and ability to access better jobs and create a brighter future.

While our goal is to raise funds to support the Open Windows Scholarship program, travellers can also help make a difference by visiting the Open Windows project while on your G Adventures tour and donating the following items:
• School supplies (i.e. pens, pencils, notebooks)
• Art supplies (i.e. yarn, crochete hooks, paint)
• Children’s clothes (i.e. T-shirts)
• Toys to be used for the reading points program
• Over the counter medicine to be used in the health clinic (i.e. Tylenol, cough medicine etc.)

For more information about this project and/or to make a donation please visit our website at www.planeterra.org or contact us at info@planeterra.org

It is possible to visit this project on most tours that pass through Antigua, Guatemala. To arrange a visit please speak to your G Adventures CEO who can arrange this for you.

Local Dress

In the heavily indigenous populated areas it is recommended to wear conservative clothing and avoid wearing shorts.

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that you'll receive a special discount code for free online prints and we'll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at customerservice@gadventures.com and we will send it on to you.

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Stay current on how our company invests in our global community through our foundation – Planeterra. Sign up for Planeterra's monthly news to learn more about how to give back and support the people and places we love to visit.

Travel Forum - The Watering Hole

Be sure to stop by The Watering Hole, our adventure travel forum. If you're interested in meeting others booked on your upcoming trip, check out the Departure Lounge section of our forum and introduce yourself. Otherwise, just drop in at anytime to share some travel tips, ask questions, meet other travellers and quench your thirst for travel. Our forum is located at wateringhole.gadventures.com.