This full day trip takes you high into the mountains above Lake Atitlan and features the Solola market, Panajachel, small farms, and Mayan villages. Drive through maize and vegetable fields, coffee fields, old growth forest, and into the cloud forest. Visit a sacred Mayan site with the chance to witness a Fire Cleansing Ceremony. Explore Panajachel and Solola with time at the market and town square. Great alternative to Chichicastenango. Perfect for families, safe for women travelers, and those who like to shop.
The day begins in Antigua with an early pick up at 8:00am to start your adventure. Driving along the Pan American Highway so the ride is smooth, although full of mountain curves you will pass through the old growth forest around Tecpan. As you're near the Lake Atitlan caldera, leave the highway, and descend 3,500 feet over 10 miles to one of the most beautiful caldera lakes in the world.Arriving at the Solola indigenous market at 10:00am, your local guide will meet you to start your guided tour.The Solola market happens everyday, so this is a perfect alternative to the Chichicastenango market which is only 2 days per week. Very few tourists visit this market, so do not be surprised if you seem to be the only tourist in the market. The locals are a bit shy and not used to seeing tourists, but they are friendly and curious. The handicrafts are more authentic and have not been modified for the tourists. Sorry, but you will not find refrigerator magnets or laptop covers for sale here!! You decide how much time you want to spend at the market, and how much time you want for the remaining destinations.Your guide will help you choose an appropriate restaurant for lunch (not included). Our guide likes the local taco stand that is popular with students. Or if you prefer a scenic setting, we will suggest a restaurant. While you are enjoying lunch, discuss your options and choose how you want to spend the reminding time.You can take a side trip to the mountain farming community Conception. Enjoy the isolated tranquility and fresh mountain air while exploring the pristine Catholic church constructed in 1612. The road to Conception was only paved 10 years ago, but the village seems untouched by the modern world. The drive is along ancient roadways that have been used by the Kachekel Maya for centuries. This rugged and remote area has barely been touched by the outside world. Next continue further down into the volcanic caldera to Panajachel, the gateway to Lake Atitlan. The streets are lined with handicraft vendors and cafes. Stroll the famous Santander and enjoy the vibe of "Gringo-tenango". Spend your time shopping or enjoying the lake views from the malecon (lakeshore pedistran walk). Another option is to visit the Sacred Caves a bit above Panajachel. Take a moderate hike in the mountains to see the caves, and learn why the locals make offering at the alters inside the caves. It is very likely you will witness a Mayan shaman performing the Fire Ceremony for a local family. With the help of your guide, you can make you own offering if you like. No matter which activity you choose, the day will be fun and interesting. Meet back at the shuttle at 4:00pm and say good bye to your guide and to Lake Atitlan. Rest and relax during the 2-hour drive back to Antigua.