Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua

14 days

Immerse yourself in this Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua trip of 14 days and discover the wonders of these three brother countries. Explore Guatemalan culture and learn in escorted tours about Mayan history at impressive archaeological ruins.

Enjoy the exuberant beauty of El Salvador waterfalls, hot springs, and the colorful “Flowers Route”, and walk through the beautiful Suchitoto cobblestone roads. The natural beauty of Nicaragua is one of the world’s best-kept secrets. The adventurous travelers looking for gorgeous and largely untouched jungle will have the chance to explore the rich Nicaraguan flora and fauna.

Tikal, Guatemala

Lake Suchitlan, El Salvador

Volcano Concepcion

Leon, Nicaragua

Highlights

Lake Atitlan, Antigua Guatemala, Mayan City of Tikal, Flores Island, Suchitoto, Leon, Ometepe Island, Leon, and Granada.

Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival

Upon arrival a representative will welcome you to drive you to Panajachel, Lake Atitlan. Lake Atitlan is recognized as one of the marvels of the world, admired for its fascinating volcanoes and its living Mayan culture. 

The volcanoes of Atitlán, Tolimán and San Pedro form a majestic backdrop. The Lake is surrounded by many villages where the Maya culture is still alive and traditional dresses are worn. The lake has a great variety of beaches, mountains and volcanoes.

We will drive to the Western Highlands district, home to colorful and charming mountain towns, lakes, forests, and the majority of  the Mayan indigenous inhabitants of Guatemala. This is the area most tourists aware of Guatemala think about when daydreaming of a tour to this magnificent country.

Day 2. Lake Atitlan

Today, you will have a boat tour of Lake Atitlan and enjoy the lively colors and local culture of its villages. You will explore by boat the most fabulous lake of Latin America and assorted as one of the natural wonders of the world. You will enjoy the imposing views of its three volcanoes and get to know the ancient living Mayan culture.

Today you will take a boat tour to explore Lake Atitlan. The tour will stop at several indigenous towns on the shores, a great way to experience the beauty and variety of the Maya living culture.

Today you will visit the following Maya villages:

1. The Painted Maya of Santa Catarina Palopo. 
In later years, the cooperative Painting Change began painting the houses of the village with brilliant colors and long-established Maya drawings as preferred by the families of each home. Today, the town pops with life. Maya art has acted as a tool for positive change. All from the brilliant colors, the women – with their lively purple and blue traditional dresses – and the community, everything contributes to the charisma of this village.   

2. San Juan La Laguna.
In this town you will find a unique feel, with Maya art cooperatives and handicrafts shops highly outnumbering cafés and pubs. And, surely, with tremendous lake views, steep mountains all around and the imposing volcanoes towering over it all, this town is plenty spectacular as well.

San Juan has done an exceptional job of positioning themselves as the predominant heart for unique Mayan art, handicrafts and weaving. A sum of inclusive associations help the women to make a living off these programs. San Juan is also surrounded by coffee plantations, making this one of the best locations for a cup of the best organic coffee in the world. In the town of San Juan your guide will take you to a coffee farm, learn all about Guatemalan coffee production and sample some of the best coffees of the world.

3. Santiago Atitlan
Santiago Atitlán lies in a bay between two imposing volcanoes, surrounded by mountains covered by forests. At almost every corner of the town, you will find a volcano. In Santiago, you will see the indigenous inhabitants going on with their daily life, it is difficult not to notice the way in which they all wear their traditional clothes. Yes, even the men. You will barely see jeans and t-shirts. Very friendly people who smile at each other with such contagious joy. Discover the natural beauty and traditional culture and explore more about the indigenous way of life.

You will fall so much in love with Lake Atitlan that you will not ever want to travel anywhere else.

Day 3. Mountain hike

Today you will have the opportunity to hike the mountain of the Indian Nose. If you are not into hiking, you can choose the Maya market and cooking class alternative activity. The hike to the Indian Nose is a must if you would like to have a bit of outdoor adventure while visiting lake Atitlan. You have two options when it comes to doing the hike to this mountain:

Sunrise Hike: we will go by boat to San Clara, where we will hike for about one hour to watch the sunrise from the summit. Certainly, waking up at 4 a.m. is the only way to experience the captivating sunrise and its splendid views.

Long hike: for the long and intense hike we will go by boat to San Juan after breakfast. During the longer hike you want to have the opportunity to have more views of the volcanoes, mountains and surrounding villages. If you love hiking and don’t mind a good workout, this option is for you. The summit of the mountain is at over 2,200 meters (7,217 feet) above sea level, which means it is a good climb. This hike up to the summit lasts approximately 3 hours. 

Local Market and Cooking Class: If you are not into hiking, don’t worry! We have a great alternative for you. Join a cooking class taught by a local Mayan cook, and learn how to prepare authentic Guatemalan ​food. 

The activity begins at 9:00 a.m. We start with a small excursion to the local market to purchase ingredients and to talk to local vendors. Later, we go to a cozy kitchen terrace overlooking the lake. After the class, we will have lunch together. Later, we will visit a women’s weaving cooperative just below the kitchen. If you are interested in adding this activity to your itinerary instead of the hike, the price is $30 including lunch. 

Day 4. Antigua Guatemala

Today, you will have a city tour of Antigua Guatemala. Begin to get to know UNESCO-recognized Antigua Guatemala during this complete excursion of its ruins, plazas, churches, museums, and more. Discover places not all tourists consider to experience in Antigua.

Through this guided tour you will visit the jacaranda-wreathed central plaza and their cobblestone streets lined with brightly colored colonial buildings and 16th-century marvelous ruins that makes Antigua the most beautiful colonial city of the Americas. Besides the beautiful architecture, the triple ascent of the volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango form a majestic background to this city.

Later, you will have a mini-chocolate workshop. You will leave with your own handmade chocolates filled the way you prefer them. You will get a brief and simple explanation of the chocolate making process. Make your own chocolate  with dark chocolate or milk and various condiments. 

Day 5. Volcano Pacaya

Have you ever dreamt of hiking an active volcano? This is your opportunity. Enjoy the unique adventure of climbing Pacaya Volcano and take advantage of a unique opportunity, where you will see the stony ashes and dry lava. Walk through awesome forests and amaze yourself with red-hot running lava. Often you can even see small eruptions and running lava flowing, depending on the volcano’s activity. 

If you are not into hiking, we have another excursion choice for you. You may choose to visit the colonial towns instead. Visit the colonial towns of Santa Catarina Barahona, Ciudad Vieja and Santa María de Jesús. Here you will experience the local markets and the city centers. Afterwards and to get you closer to the local traditions, you will have a cooking class with a Guatemalan family. Learn how to make a simple local dish. At the end of the day, we will drive to Guatemala City.

Day 6. Mayan City of Yaxha

The trip begins with a flight from Guatemala City to the beautiful Flores Island. In Flores, A local guide will be waiting for you for your tour to the hidden Mayan ruins of Yaxha, the third biggest Mayan site in Guatemala. Yaxha is, however, quite confined. Because of this, it tends to attract less tourists. This makes it excellent for guests who want the opportunity to discover the site without other travelers around! 

The most exceptional fact about this site is that it is located near a lagoon, which offers fascinating views. The lagoon is precisely where the site got its name, as Yaxha literally means ‘Green Water’. Climb to the top of the pyramid 216, the tallest in the site, and get incredible views of the ruins, jungle canopy and the lagoon.

Later when we are back in Flores, if the weather allows it, we will have a sunset boat tour in Lake Peten. Among the places you will visit is the Mayan site of Tayazal located in a peninsula on the lake. On the top of the pyramids you will have great views of Lake Peten Itza and Flores Island. For those who love birds and exotic animals, there is an animal conservation park for endangered and rare species and there is also the famous veterinary office.

Day 7. The Mayan City of Tikal

Today, you will have an expedition to the magic Mayan City of Tikal. Experience this must-see ruins! A captivating introduction to the monumental jungle temples, this expedition treats you to an archaeology guide and countless wildlife viewing chances. 

Today, you will meet the gigantic temples which rise above the dense jungle, and learn with your guide how the city thrived as an important scientific, political, and religious center for 1,500 years. The jungle canopy which surrounds the site is home to spider and howler monkeys, toucans, scarlet macaws, parrots, ocelots, jaguars and many more. 

The path through the jungle, surrounded by the cacophony of birds and monkeys will take you to the spectacular view of the massive Mayan Ruins of almost a millennium of antiquity. Hike through the jungle to the highest temple to witness an incredible sight, An overwhelming sea of trees and as if they were rock boats, the tips of the Mayan temples of Tikal. 

Day 8. Travel to El Salvador

A driver will take you to the airport for your flight back to Guatemala City. Another driver will be waiting for you for the transfer from the Guatemala City airport to Suchitoto, El Salvador.

Day 9. City tour to Suchitoto

They know Suchitoto for its cobblestone roads and an excellent view of Lake Suchitlan. During the city tour you will be able to appreciate the local history and culture under the backdrop of the Guazapa volcano. Set down on a hilltop, above the bright waters of Lake Suchitlan, Suchitoto is amidst the most charming towns of El Salvador, an intricacy of aged cobblestones and unspoiled colonial architecture.

Discover the lively cultural center of El Salvador. Appreciate the colonial buildings and cobbled lanes of the historic center; see the brilliant-white Santa Lucia Church, and visit art galleries, the handicrafts shops and markets. You will experience an authentic colonial town. 

Later, we will visit the waterfall of Los Tercios. The waterfall underwhelms when water is low which happens often, however the rock formation and the excursion are fascinating enough. To see the ten meter waterfall, guests must hike through crumbling rock formations, which represents an adventure for travelers, who are also enchanted by the extraordinary view of Lake Suchitlan.

Day 10. Travel to Leon, Nicaragua

Today you will leave El Salvador. Our driver will take you to the international airport to take a flight to Managua, Nicaragua, and then you will be driven to your hotel in León, the second-largest city in Nicaragua. It is home to a number of historic Spanish colonial homes and churches.

Day 11. Discover Leon

Leon is considered to be the intellectual center of the country. Your guide will show you through the most beautiful places in the city including the cathedral, the murals of the revolution, Museum Ruben Dario and Gallery Ortiz. The collection of this gallery includes work from European masters (Picasso, Chagall) and a stunning assembly of Latin American art. In the afternoon you will go to the city of Granada.

You will visit the Basilica de la Asunción, the biggest cathedral in Central America. Learn about the mysterious secrets of its design and climb to its roof for a scenic view of the city. Hike in Leon Central Plaza and the main surrounding buildings. Later we will visit the Ruins of Leon Viejo, the first location of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about the history and fights between the conquerors and the native population that took place here. At the same time, enjoy fabulous views of the volcano Momotombo rising on the banks of Lake Xolotlan. At the end we will drive to San Jorge where you will take a ferry to Ometepe Island. 

Day 12. Island of Ometepe

This morning your driver will take you to San Jorge where you will take the ferry to Ometepe Island to start your tour. Ometepe is the largest island in the world found within a freshwater lake! It houses two majestic volcanoes connected through a very small trip of land. The island is currently one of the destinations admired by both local and international travelers for its beautiful landscapes, volcanoes, rich archaeological background and relaxing beaches.

Ojo de Agua. This is a natural spring of crystalline waters with medicinal properties that rejuvenate your skin. Rustic facilities have been built on this farm, including pools, thatch-roof huts and hiking trails.

Beach of Santo Domingo. Its a 4 kilometer long stretch of gray sand. The water of the lake is warm and shallow making it safe for bathing and swimming. On the beach you can relax in the constant onshore breeze or you can take a walk along the beach, framed by forest.

Charco Verde. It is an ecological reserve that covers 20 hectares of tropical forest. It is home to many species of animals. The lagoon of Charco Verde is known for its emerald green waters. This is a tranquil spot in an unspoiled area of old woodland where you can quietly enjoy the natural surroundings.

At the end of the tour, we will take the drive back to San Jorge and drive to Granada.

Day 13. Explore Granada

Due to the cultural and historical value of the city, it is in the process of being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For the culture between you, Granada is one of the most exquisite cities in Central America. Palms rise between a sea of red tile roofs against the scenery of volcanoes and lake shores.

The neighboring natural beauty has touched poets, artists, and writers. Combine these charismatic characteristics with the laid-back air of the locals, one of the happiest in the world and you have likely the most relaxed city in Central America, entirely absorbed with culture and nature.

Granada will surround you with unique colonial architecture, horse-drawn carriages and friendly people. The city of Granada is known for its rich history, dating back to the Spanish conquistadors. Visit the churches of San Francisco, La Merced and the neoclassical cathedral. You will take a city tour by a horse-drawn carriage through colonial Granada and visit an ancient fortress and a cemetery with tombs over 400 years old.

Day 14. Return home

The 14 days of this Central America adventure through these three wonderful countries comes to an end with a transfer to the international airport of Managua, Nicaragua for your departure flight.

map, expenses & price

Central America Trip

Expenses included:
-Private transportation.
-Thirteen nights of hotel accommodations.
-Domestic flights.
-Professional certified guides.
-All park entrance fees.
-Tours and excursions as listed.
-Daily breakfasts.

Per person starting at $2,000

Extensions
ATV and coffee tour

Taste the best coffee in the world going on one this adventure tour in Antigua. This excursion is sure to please a diversity of guests. Drive your own ATV and go to a resident plantation, where you will learn about the coffee making procedure from seed to your cup. Following a delicious hot cup of the local drink, drive to the lookout of the city, which has an astonishing view of the city and neighboring volcanoes and mountains. Duration: 3 hours. Price per guest from: $35

Natural sauna

Hike in the woods, all the while you will be able to have the curative potential of forest bathing, foraging also tasty native herbs to add to the delicious after-sauna vegan refreshment. Have a wood-burning classic Finnish sauna (a one hour entire body Swedish massage is also possible on request) after that, you will have a small snack on a charming patio with a view of the imposing volcanoes surrounding Antigua. Duration: 3 hours. Price per guest from: $40

Kite Festival

Come upon with the magic of Guatemala on this exceptional cultural excursion. Learn about the traditions behind the All Saints Day. The incredible giant kites of the town of Sumpango are believed to keep away hateful spirits and connect with the deceased, and they are jewel that take enormous skill and patience to finish. Date: November 1st – Price from $80

Sunrise in Tikal

Once you arrive at the entrance of Tikal, you will be off hiking over the darkened jungle canopy with just flashlights or headlamps to see the way. Other than our guide speaking occasionally, the jungle will be peaceful and dark. Turn your headlamps off and look up at the sky full of stars. It is very difficult to match the countless amount of stars you may be able to see in a clear night here.

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