Festivals – All Saints Day (Giant Kites Festival)from
Sumpango is one of the two towns in Guatemala where “All Saints Day” is celebrated with a very different festival: A Giant Kite Festival on Nov 1st.
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Vacation Style Holiday TypeChildren, Culture, Cycling
Activity Level Challenging
Sumpango is one of the two towns in Guatemala where “All Saints Day” is celebrated with a very different festival: A Giant Kite Festival. There are several legends on how this festival was born, a couple of the most accepted is that according to residents, spirits came out on November 1st (prior to Day of the Dead on Nov02) to annoy and bother Sumpango’s residents. Exasperated, they asked their elder Spiritual Guide what they should to do to scare away these spirits. He suggested they take big pieces of paper, let them fly in the wind and make lots of noise. Eventually, somebody figured out that kites were a more efficient spirit-scaring device. And thus, a tradition was born. Another belief is simply that the kites are a form of communicating between the dead and the living, especially during “All Saints Day-Nov01” and the “Day of the Dead-Nov02”. These are used to unite the deceased with the family that remembers them
go to “itinerary” above for the day by day description
Tuesday Oct 20
Welcome to Guatemala
On arrival to Guatemala City you will be met by STP Guatemala staff for the transfer to the hotel.
Wednesday Oct 21
GUA City Tour/Quetzal Biotope/Cobán
Panoramic city visit including the Main Plaza, where we can find the Cathedral and the Palacio Nacional de la Cultural (former Governments offices and residence). Drive to the eastern side of the country through the dry tropical climate of the Motagua river valley and onto the cooler climate of Alta Verapáz. Visit to the lush cloud forest ecosystem of the Biotope “El Quetzal – Mario Dary Rivera,” natural habitat of the national bird, the Quetzal. Continue to Cobán.
Thursday Oct 22
This morning we drive to Candelaria Caves, the largest complex found in Central America (30kms long) located at the foot of the Chamá Mountain Range. It is one of the most extraordinary underground systems on Earth. Afterwards we continue to the north: Flores, Petén. (x 2 nights)
Friday Oct 23
Tikal National Park
Hidden in the middle of the jungle, Tikal’s monumental ruins are a part of the Marvels of the Americas. UNESCO included it in the World Heritage List on 1979 and declared it as “Cultural & Natural Heritage” due to the big quantity of archeological vestiges and ecosystems. Known originally as ” City of the Voices ”, it was discovered on 1848, and it was not but up to in 1940 when they started the restoration works. A beautiful trek from 3 to 5 hours in the jungle, allows the visitors to discover the history of this mystical Maya Metropoli. Afternoon return to Flores and if time allows, walking visit to Flores Island, the capital of Petén. The old part of the city is located on an island on Lake Petén Itzá, connected to the mainland by a short causeway.
Saturday Oct 24
Flores/Río Dulce (Boat to Livingston)
Morning departure to Río Dulce where we will take a boat ride for a panoramic view from the river of Castillo San Felipe, a fort that was built in early XVI century to protect the merchandise from pirates of the Gulf of Mexico. Admire the lush tropical forest, hundreds of birds and the impressive Río Dulce Canyon. Visit to the local Indigenous Cooperative AK Tenamit. Arrival to the Garífuna town of Livingston.
Sunday Oct 25
Boat transfer to Puerto Barrios. Continue to visit the archaeological site of Quiriguá. Declared by UNESCO “Cultural Heritage of Humankind”, Quiriguá is famous for having the tallest stone-carved stelae in the Maya World. After the visit drive to Copán, Honduras.
Monday Oct 26
Copán is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in the Maya World. It was declared “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO, and presents a sophisticated architectural style and a unique art for stone carving. Visit the main plazas, complexes and monuments. Afterwards drive back to Guatemala City and onto Antigua. (x 3 nights)
Tuesday Oct 27
Antigua City Tour + Coffee farm
Stepping in Antigua is like stepping back in time… cobbled stone streets, sprays of bougainvillea bursting from crumbling ruins, pastel façades under terracotta roofs, parks with fountains & a dramatic setting surrounded by three volcanoes: Agua, Fuego & Acatenango. These are one of the reasons why Antigua is one of the most beautiful colonial cities in the Americas & declared by UNESCO as “Cultural Heritage of Humankind”. Visit to Antigua, starting from the Main Plaza and visiting the main monuments of the city. After Antigua, visit to a coffee farm to learn about the history and production of coffee in Guatemala.
Wednesday Oct 28
Pacaya Volcano + Antigua Surrounding villages
Drive to the pacific coast to hike the Pacaya Volcano (2,500masl), an impressive active volcano, Strombolian type. We start climbing from the village of San Francisco de Sales, and hike up for approximately 1.5 hours. PM return to Antigua Guatemala for the visit of its surrounding villages.
Thursday Oct 29
Chichicastenango/San Andrés Xecul/Quetzaltenango
Early in the morning departure to Chichicastenango, where you will see the most colorful and picturesque outdoor market in Guatemala. Time at leisure for shopping in the market. Afterwards we continue to Quetzaltenango, stopping on the way in San Andrés Xecul which is a small town home to a stunning church with yellow façade and technicolored saints, angels, flowers, tigers and monkeys. We continue to Quetzaltenango; Guatemala´s second largest city, at 2,335 metres high, surrounded by beautiful volcanic countryside.
Friday Oct 30
Today we visit Zunil, another of Guatemala’s prettiest and most colourful villages located in a lush valley framed by steep hills and dominated by a towering volcano; and Almolonga, an indigenous agricultural and market town in which you will see local crafts and gorgeous vegetables during market day. Afternoon drive to Lake Atitlán. (x 2 nights)
Saturday Oct 31
Santiago Atitlán and San Antonio Palopó
Lake Atitlán was formed by a caldera (collapsed volcanic cone) and is surrounded by three impressive volcanoes (San Pedro, Atitlán and Tolimán) and 12 picturesque Maya-Cakchiquel and Maya-Tzutuhil villages. Morning boat trip to the Maya-Tzutuhil village of Santiago Atitlán, famous for Maximón, a folk saint venerated by the locals. The origins of his cult are not very well understood by outsiders to the different Mayan religions, but Maximón is believed to be a form of a pre-Columbian Maya god, blended with influences from Catholicism. Maximón may also be called San Simón. Return by boat to Panajachel and continue by road to visit San Antonio Palopó, known for its artisan ceramic products.
Sunday Nov 01
All Saint’s Day- Giant Kites Festival in Sumpango. PM drive to Antigua
Morning drive from Atitlan to Sumpango, one of the two towns in Guatemala where “All Saints Day” is celebrated with a very different festival: A Giant Kite Festival. There are several legends on how this festival was born, a couple of the most accepted is that according to residents, spirits came out on November 1st (prior to Day of the Dead on Nov02) to annoy and bother Sumpango’s residents. Exasperated, they asked their elder Spiritual Guide what they should to do to scare away these spirits. He suggested they take big pieces of paper, let them fly in the wind and make lots of noise. Eventually, somebody figured out that kites were a more efficient spirit-scaring device. And thus, a tradition was born. Another belief is simply that the kites are a form of communicating between the dead and the living, specially during “All Saints Day-Nov01” and the “Day of the Dead-Nov02”. These are used to unite the deceased with the family that remembers them. After visiting the grounds where the colorful and intricately designed giant kites are on display, we continue in the afternoon to Antigua.
Monday Nov 02
AM at leisure/PM drive to GUA City Airport
At the time specified, drive to Guatemala City airport (1hr drive).