There are few places in the world that celebrate Easter quite like Guatemala’s colonial city of Antigua....
Who would believe that such great natural and cultural contrast could be contained in such a small country? Guatemala, with perhaps the most friendly people in Latin America, is the perfect place to visit if you want to escape crowds of tourists – on the international circuit, almost an undiscovered paradise! Mayan ruins hidden deep in the jungle, beautiful colonial cities like magical Antigua, Chichicastenango market with its unique handicrafts, small villages little touched by time, hotels that were once old monasteries, lakes, mountains, volcanoes – and just so much more…
Evidence of original settlement dates back to around 700BC and Tikal’s first complex of significant buildings was established by 200BC. This magnificent site, deep in the jungle, now contains some of the most fascinating archaeological remains of the ancient Mayan civilisation whose empire held sway between 200-900AD. There are more than 3,000 pre-Hispanic constructions of temples, plazas, sanctuaries and ceremonial platforms, along with countless sculptures, altars and steles, while much more still remains to be excavated. Immerse yourself in Mayan history and explore the Gran Plaza, the towering temples and pyramids, North, South and Central Acropolises, and the “Lost World” complex.
One of the best-preserved colonial cities in Central America, the city of Antigua was once the third most important Spanish colony in the Americas. Set in a beautiful location overlooked by three soaring volcanoes, it is the epitome of colonial splendour with some of the region’s most architecturally intact churches, houses and plazas. Antigua is also noted for its beautiful crafts including ceramics, wood- and stone-carvings, silver jewellery and a variety of traditional weavings and costumes.
Lake Atitlán and its villages are a wonderful combination of scenic beauty, a relaxed atmosphere, easily accessible Mayan culture, and a good tourist infrastructure. Atitlan Lake is situated at an altitude of 1,560 metres with Tolimán volcano (3,158 metres), forming a very powerful back-drop. It is ringed by small towns, Panajachel is best known and well worth a visit.
Lake Atitlan, a spectacular crater lake dominated by towering volcanoes and surrounded by forested slopes and volcanoes, is believed to be the most beautiful lake in all of the Americas. Lakeside and hillside settlements, such as Panajachel and Chichicastenango, are very colourful with lively Indian markets and are rich in Mayan culture. f great rejoicing from the people.
During ‘Holy Week’, Antigua hosts the most beautiful religious celebration in all of Central America – perhaps in the world – when huge and elaborate processions wind through the city’s main streets. The celebrations actually begin on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, and continue through until Easter Sunday; perhaps the climax is Good Friday, when Antigua’s streets are thronged with thousands of participants and reverent spectators.
The processions include massive floats (andas), bearing statues of Christ with a cross, that are carried by hundreds of purple-robed men. The processions move slowly through the cobblestone streets, the feet of the bearers cushioned by the alfombras (sawdust-and-flower carpets) which are destroyed as the procession passes over. Visiting Antigua during Lent and Holy Week will present you with an extraordinary spiritually-rewarding experience you will never forget.
El Convento Boutique Hotel
Located on a cobblestone street across from the legendary Capuchinas Convent, in the heart of Antigua Guatemala,
El Convento Boutique Hotel welcomes visitors to an oasis of stunning elegance and unparalleled comfort.
26 spacious,exquisitely decorated suites draws upon the history and culture of this famous city,
creating an intoxicating blend of traditional simplicity and modern convenience.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
The Laguna Lodge is on the lakeshore of the legendary Lake Atitlan and exclusively nestled in its own nature reserve.
Entry into this Mayan world begins by boat.
The hotel commands sweeping views over azure waters to a trio of dramatic volcanoes. Inspired by nature and created from volcanic stone, adobe and palm spacious lakeside suites are individually appointed with comfortable hand hewn king beds, fine linens, intricate woven textiles and indigenous antiques.
Posada Del Angel
Posada del Angel is traditional and elegant: each of the seven rooms is unique and has been designed with a color palette inspired by the famous wall textures all over La Antigua. Beds are covered with Mayan textiles made on backstap looms using the finest cottons and traditional indigenous techniques.
South America Travel Centre can look after all aspects of your holiday, including flights and travel insurance.
We start by asking you what your interests are and where you are interested in, when, for how long, what standard and style of accommodation. Once we have a good understanding of just what you’re looking for, we can begin to create a holiday to meet your time and budget requirements and, most importantly, that will deliver interest and enjoyment in an experience to exceed your expectations.
Please book early. Many of the hotels, lodges and cruise vessels we recommend are relatively small. This exclusivity combined with high demand means they can be booked out up to 6-8 months in advance.
If you’re thinking of travelling during any major holidays like Christmas, New Year and Easter, or during any festivals, our advice is simply to book as early as you can, even 12 months or more, and we can add flights as soon as they become available.
Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Guatemala. You will need to hold a valid passport and have a return ticket when you arrival. V
Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. There are no compulsory vaccinations.
We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess any health risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.
We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Latin America are LATAM Airlines, QANTAS Airlines and Air New Zealand. We can also arrange internal flights for you within Latin America.
Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll request the details of all of your fights to ensure if there are any changes your transfers and other arrangements are adjusted accordingly.
Best time – winter mid-December to late March, the driest time of year. Summer (Apr-Nov) is the rainy season, with a risk of hurricanes June-November.
We found our itinerary absolutely perfect. By that I mean not only were our superb boutique hotels great, the guides in each city friendly, courteous, well-spoken and knowledgeable but the time in each city or location and the balance between site seeing “work" and leisure time “play” was also perfect. The most difficult question by friends on our return has been “what was the highlight”. An impossible question when considering the merits of, inter alia, Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls, Christ the Redeemer, Inti Raymi Festival, Lake Titicaca. The purpose of our trip to South America, in truth, was to see as much as we could of the continent with a view to probably not returning as we explored other opportunities. I have to now say that the chance of us revisiting South America is extremely high.
I write to thank you for organising our recent trip to South America. Everything went like clockwork, and the arrangements were very satisfactory. The guides always turned up at the right time, and the people meeting us at the airports were always there. We had a wonderful trip, and we will have to plan another one now, so that we can see Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay and maybe more. But first it’s back to work to earn some more money! For me the greatest highlight was Machu Picchu; it far exceeded my expectations. Once again, thanks so much, Alistair Macindoe.
We had a fabulous time!! The countries we visited have such a rich and fascinating cultural & geographical diversity. We loved learning about the Incans and visiting the ruins in Peru, we loved seeing all the creatures of the Galapagos Islands and the volcanoes of Ecuador. We loved the magnificent scenery of the Atacama. What a fantastic palette at sunset! The adobe hotel, Altiplanico, was wonderful & San Pedro de Atacama was a funky place. We appreciated the structure of our holiday too, there was a nice blend of guided time and free time. It was nice to be in one place on the boat in Galapagos after moving to a different place each day through Ecuador. Some of the haciendas we visited would be lovely to stay for a longer time. Everything went very smoothly in terms of timely airport transfers & pickups, informative and friendly guides/drivers at all times. The local people were very friendly & were helpful with our attempts at speaking Spanish. We enjoyed the cuisine very much & look forward to trying some home-made Locro de papa soup & Pisco sour. Thanks for helping us with a great holiday. Kind regards Della & John