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Semuc Champey, Guatemala

Guatemala Holidays

A small country with a booming ecosystem. Among the breadth of animals in its forests, the calls of howler monkeys and blaring parrots will be something from your trip that ring loud in your memories.

For the traveller who is inspired by the indigenous culture of a country, then a Guatemala holiday is hard to beat. Up in the hills, the daily markets are a gorgeous riot of colourful clothing while the landscape is dotted with lakes and a backdrop of perfect volcanic cones.

The Spanish colonial architecture of the towns and the impressive Mayan ruins surrounded by jungle are further reasons for you to enjoy a Guatemala holiday.

Scarlet Macaw, Copan Mayan Ruins, Honduras
Copan Mayan Ruins, Honduras

Epic Maya Journey: Mexico, Guatemala & Honduras

An exploration of the ancient Maya sites of Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, this route strikes the perfect balance between ancient temples, dense jungles and dazzling lakes. Unveil some of the most visually stunning landscapes in the Americas and a series of world-renowned archaeological sites, with the added bonus of having a chance to attend a private Shaman ceremony.

20 days

from £7,145 pp

See holiday idea

Semuc Champey, Guatemala
Coban, Guatemala

Highlights of Guatemala

Unveiling some of the most visually stunning landscapes in vibrant Guatemala, this trip journeys from dazzling high altitude lakes to ancient Mayan ruins. Encompassing Shaman ceremonies, traditional textile weaving workshops and an expertly guided tour of Tikal, this customisable itinerary is designed to give a comprehensive introduction to one of the most vivid countries in Central America.

8 days

from £2,825 pp

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Sunset, Tikal National Park, Guatemala
Sunset, Tikal National Park, Guatemala

Guatemala: What to Expect

Geographically small, a holiday in Guatemala does not involve travelling great distances. Rather, the focus of your trip to Guatemala will be the striking variety of topographic features, ranging from the Cuchumatanes Mountains and the beautiful Lake Atitlan to the volcanoes of Antigua and the black beaches of the Pacific. Guatemala’s ecosystems host a huge range of plants and animals, notably orchids and birdlife. A quarter of Guatemala is covered in forests where the noise of spider and howler monkeys and screeching parrots fills the air.

Local Woman, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Local Woman, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Meet the Locals

The colourful Mayan people add an additional dimension to your Guatemala holiday. The extensive ruins of their ancestors lie scattered across the Peten region while their heritage lives on today, evident in the bustling markets of Solola, the traditional reed collecting on the shores of Lake Atitlan and the unique weaving methods of the K’iche, Kaqchiquel and Achi communities. Now throw in the cobbled streets, beautiful churches, hidden convents and colonial plazas and you begin to understand the charm of a Guatemala holiday.

Explore Guatemala

  • Antigua
  • Lake Atitlan
  • Tikal

Experiences

Picnic lunch within the ruins

Explore the archaeological park and then find a shaded spot between the Maya superstructures for a luxury picnic lunch

Spend time with Coffee Farmers

Meet the independent coffee farmers and have a traditional lunch with a local family.

Sample Local Cuisine

Discover the culinary delights of Antigua’s exceptional street food.

Casa Palopó

Stay at Casa Palopó, one of the best hotels in Guatemala.

Lake Atitlan Market

Visit one of the highland markets, much less-visited by tourists.

Meet local communities

Explore the many lakeside villages and visit the revered idol Maximon.

Lake Atitlan Adventures

Kayak on the lake, enjoy the adrenaline thrill of a zip line or the unique experience of diving in the volcanic crater-lake.

Bird Watching

Visit Lake Atitlan and make the most of its excellent bird watching opportunities.

Uaxactun and Yaxha

Visit some of the more remote nearby sites of Uaxactun and Yaxha.

Temple IV

Climb to the top of Temple IV, for glorious views above the jungle canopy.

Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

James Armitage

When visiting the Maya ruins of Yaxha, with trees and roots growing out of the stone work, monkeys hanging from trees and macaws flying overhead, James felt like Indiana Jones.
Talk with our experts
  • 01285 601 784

John Faithfull

John’s most recent trip to Guatemala was for Semana Santa (Holy Week), a heady mix of colourful processions where huge swaying floats are carried on the shoulders of purple-clad brotherhoods in high pointed head gear who shufflle through billowing clouds of incense.
Talk with our experts
  • 01285 601 784

Frequently asked questions about Guatemala

Can I use my mobile phone in Guatemala?

Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies and coverage is good. We suggest checking with your network provider before travel. Please consider other guests when using your mobile phone and when in poorer areas. Phones are available at all hotels and at most, if not all, restaurants.

What is the international dialling code for Guatemala?

#ERROR!

What is the time zone in Guatemala?

Guatemala is six hours behind GMT and does not observe daylight-saving time.

How long are the flights to Guatemala from the UK?

Anyone wishing to visit Guatemala has a choice of flying via Madrid, or Miami dependent upon the airline. We suggest flying via Madrid as this offers the most reasonably priced airfares and good connections. If you would prefer to travel via the US with Virgin/British Airways and American Airlines, do note that you will need to pre-purchase your ESTA visa waiver.
The flight to Guatemala City departs from London Heathrow and takes approximately 15.5 hours, via Madrid with the longest sector of the journey being Madrid to Guatemala City just over 11 hours. Via the US, the journey time is slightly longer, as you need to allow sufficient time to clear immigration.

What is a chicken bus, and will I be travelling on one?

Chicken buses are multi-coloured camionetas, which are converted school buses from the U.S. They are quite an experience should you wish to travel on one and you may need to sign a disclaimer before you do so. We can arrange a tour visiting a chicken bus factory with a ride out to a nearby school in Antigua if you would like to experience these. The name derives from being packed on like livestock but this is not a form of transportation for farm animals.

Are there too many tourists; will I feel like a sheep?

At the larger sites such as Tikal, you can expect to see other tourists but this is not on such a scale as say Machu Picchu or Chichen Itza. Our guides will take you along paths rarely used by the daily visitor and aim to take you at less busy times. We can offer the option to camp around Uaxactun where you can have practically private access into the ruins. Whilst Chichicastenango market is the ‘must-do’ in Guatemala, we prefer the smaller more authentic Comalapa or Solola markets.

Are there any festivals I can see during my trip?

We should have discussed this with you and if this is of particular interest, then do ask and your travel consultant can arrange this for you. In short, fiestas revolve around religion. Semana santa ‘Easter Week’ in Antigua offers an incredible procession with carpets of flowers paying homage to Jesus – it is a real spectacle and as a result you will need to book up early to avoid disappointment. In addition to this, the country offers various fiestas with Ladino towns offering fairgrounds, processions and beauty contests, whereas in the Mayan highlands traditional dances with musicians fill the festival.

What is the typical food and drink in Guatemala?

Guatemala’s staples are black beans, guacamole and rice with tacos. A typical breakfast consists of frijoles negros (stewed black beans), banana, eggs, guacamole, rice and tortillas — a Central American fry up. Guatemalans eat tortillas some three times a day and you will often see and hear women clapping their hands baking these.

What about the altitude in Guatemala?

Guatemala has many volcanoes and you can expect areas at altitude. For travel to Lake Atitlán and to nearby markets, altitudes reach around 1,500-2,400 metres. Some people experience symptoms, whilst others have none at all and we advise contacting your GP before travel if you have any concerns.

What clothing should I take to Guatemala?

It is always best to pack light and while casual dress has become more acceptable in recent years, Latin Americans tend to devote great care to their clothes and appearance. We find that a good fleece, waterproof jacket, layers and zip-off trousers work well for the chilly mornings followed by warm afternoons in the highlands.

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So many thanks indeed for the care and time that you put into organising this trip for us. I cannot underestimate the value of the latter in terms of reading what we wanted and then advising on the best way to achieve that. As I am sure you will know only too well, other operators are over keen to sell “this is what we do”, and make the sale. So thank you for putting together what will be a really memorable experience for us.

Destination: Guatemala
Travel Expert: James

John's advice on unique locations and experiences throughout Guatemala were invaluable.

Destination: Guatemala
Travel Expert: John

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise sets us apart. So too our curiosity. A curiosity of the world and of you, and your passions. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you.

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