Festivals – Santo Tomás Day in Chichicastenangofrom
December 21st is the celebration of “Santo Tomás”, the Saint Patron of Chichicastenango. The town celebrates during the whole week with folkloric dances, processions, ceremonies and different cultural activities.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Fairly Easy
Chichicastenango is the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Quichés and known for its cultural richness. Today the Mayas-Quiches still practice Syncretic Rites (Mayan-Catholic). In this city there is there still a parallel power recognized: the Mayan Maire: the “ Indigenous Mayor”. Besides being famous for its market, it is also known as “The Mecca of the Mayas” since the discovery of the Popol Vuh: the sacred book of the Maya.
go to “itinerary” above for the day by day description (December 2020)
Saturday Dec 12
Welcome to Guatemala
On arrival to Guatemala City you will be met by STP Guatemala staff for the transfer to the hotel.
Sunday Dec 13
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.
Monday Dec 14
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)
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 visit from 3 to 5 hours, in the jungle, allows to the visitors to discover the history of this mystical Maya Metropolis. 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.
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.
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.
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 (entrance fee included only to the archaeological site, not to the tunnels or sculpture museum). Afterwards drive back to Guatemala City and onto Antigua. (x 2 nights)
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 of coffee.
Sunday Dec 20
Chichicastenango visit + Santo Tomás Day Celebrations
Departure to Chichicastenango. its name means “ Place between nettles” . Chichicastenango is the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Quichés and known for its cultural richness where the Mayas-quiches survived the outside influences: they still practice Syncretic Rites (Mayan-Catholic). In this city there is there still a parallel power recognized: The Mayan Maire. The “ Indigenous Mayor” . This city is famous for its market, where every Thursday and Sunday, locals from surrounding villages gather around the Main Plaza to buy and sell their goods. A tradition hundreds of years old. It is also known as “The Mecca of the Mayas” since the discovery of the Popol Vuh: the sacred book of the Maya. December 21st is the celebration of “Santo Tomás” who is the Saint Patron of Chichicastenango. The town celebrates during the whole week with folkloric dances, processions, ceremonies and different cultural activities.
Monday Dec 21
Santo Tomás Day Celebrations/ PM drive to Lake Atitlán
Continue with the celebrations of Santo Tomás. Afternoon drive to Lake Atitlán. (x 2 nights)
Tuesday Dec 22
Lake Atitlán (Boat to Santiago)
In Nahualt dialect, Atitlán means: “ Abundance of Water”. According to the geological history, this area was an enormous volcano that erupted 85,000 years ago. The result of this huge eruption is a 125 square kilometres and 300 mts. depth caldera, which is now Lake Atitlan. Its shores are inhabited by 12 Mayan descendant etnias (Tzutujil and Cakchiquel). Atitlan is at 1560 masl and surrounded by 3 volcanoes: Volcan San Pedro (3020 masl), Volcan Toliman (3158 masl) and Volcan Atitlán (3537 masl). Towns you will visit: Santa Catarina Palopó: Community of less than 3,000 people belongs to the Cakchiquel etnia. This little town of 8 Kms., is famous because of the traditional blue- turquoise traditional dress. Women learn how to weave at 05 years old and keep this ancestral traditions associated to fertility. Santiago Atitlan: Is the biggest community around the lake. Its name before of the Spanish conquest, was T´zikin´ ha, which means “House of Birds”, it is located at the base of the Atitlán Volcano. Santiago Atitlan is famous for “Maximon” a pagan Saint that is widely worshiped. Santiago is also known for their naif painting artists.
Wednesday Dec 23
Lake Atitlán/GUA Airport
At the time specified, drive to Guatemala City airport (3hrs drive). Important: flight must be in the afternoon due to the distance to GUA City.