WHET YOUR APPETITE
Guatemala truly has it all: a vibrant indigenous culture, spectacular natural beauty, the UNESCO world heritage city of Antigua, dramatic Mayan ruins, and the warmth and charm of its proud people. This is not to ignore Guatemala’s turbulent past or the social inequalities that still exist. However, since the signing of the 1996 peace accords, Guatemala has again taken its rightful place on the world’s stage as one of our planet’s most compelling destinations to experience living culture in a lush, natural setting. Our immersive journey is focused on meeting the people and experiencing the living traditions of the Guatemala highlands.
Our fixed departure, small group programs in Guatemala often coincide with one the region’s spectacular local festivals. One such departure is our annual Semana Santa (Easter Week) journey, in which you will actively participate in one of the most colorful expressions of this religious celebration in the Western Hemisphere.
In addition to its brash nature, stunning Spanish colonial architecture and impressive Maya archaeological heritage, Culture Xplorers provides travelers an unparalleled access to the people and living culture of the Guatemalan highlands.
FARM TO TABLE
After shopping for seasonal produce at the open-air market, roll-up your sleeves for a delicious, hands-on workshop focused on fresh preparations of Guatemalan highland cuisine. Sip a glass of wine as you marvel at the views of verdant volcanoes from the privileged garden perch of our trip leader’s home.
LIFE AT GROUND LEVEL
Meet with women breaking the cycle of poverty with the help of a comprehensive micro-loan and education program. Visit indigenous communities surrounding Lake Atitlan and Antigua to delve into local life and ancient traditions from a distinctly ground level perspective.
ACCESS & EXPERTISE
Savor a tasting menu created by one of Guatemala’s culinary stars. Enter the home of a legendary alfombra maker whose family’s stunning, ephemeral Easter Week carpets have graced Antigua’s streets for over 50 years (Semana Santa departure). Hobnob with an artisan coffee roaster who transmits his passion for the bean during an informal tasting seminar.
EXTEND YOUR EXPERIENCE
Our optional extension to Tikal and Yaxhá is highly recommended. Yaxhá, with over 80% of its area still unexcavated, retains an air of mystery, while Tikal, one of the most important centers of the ancient Mayan world, takes one’s breath away with its grandeur.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
At Culture Xplorers, we insist on being not only responsible travelers, but on making a positive impact on the communities with which we come into contact. We work hand-in-hand with local leaders in the destinations we visit to spend time as well as money in their communities, to exchange views and to support the living traditions that make these destinations unique.
With each trip to Guatemala, Culture Xplorers sponsors micro-loans administered via the respected NGO Friendship Bridge. Their program is comprehensive, long term and sustainable, combining micro-credit for mothers with formal education for their children and informal health education for the women themselves.
As a catalyst to these deep-rooted partnerships in each of our destinations, the non-profit Culture Xplorers Foundation was created in 2007 with the goal of fostering the sustainability of local culture in indigenous communities worldwide.
We constantly look for ways to minimize our carbon footprint before, during and even after our travels. We start in the office by not producing or printing any printed brochures. We have adhered to this leading-edge environmental practice since 2005, sending all our correspondence electronically as PDFʼs, from program itineraries to comprehensive pre-departure materials, to invoices, to our feedback & evaluation forms after the journey ends.
Traveling in extremely small groups (maximum 10 travelers) helps us minimize our ecological footprint in other ways. We stay in locally run, upscale boutique lodging brimming with local character — often in converted historic buildings, rural haciendas & renovated manor homes. This re-purposed lodging not only transmit a deeply authentic sense of place, they eliminate the need for additional tourism infrastructure.
When it comes to food ways and traditions, we emphasize visits with farmers and local producers and during each of our trips we participate in a hands-on culinary workshop focused on locally sourced foods & regional specialties.