Welcome to The Highlands

Most travelers spend a spell at the dizzyingly beautiful Lago de Atitlán, an azure lake cartoonishly ringed by volcanoes. From here it's easy to strike out to the exuberant spectacle of the weekly market at Chichicastenango. Head west to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala's laidback second city. Northward spread the Cuchumatanes mountains, where Mayan life follows its own rhythms amidst picturesque villages and fantastic mountain landscapes. For hikers, this is the promised land.

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The Highlands activities

$56.99 Cultural & Theme Tours

Lake Atitlan: Mayan Ceremony at the Sacred Caves

Experience an important ceremony of the Maya people of Guatemala at the most sacred and holy location on Lake Atitlan.Transfer to the trail-head from Panajachel. Then, walk to the 1st cave (a maximum 20-minute hike). Named “Nimajay”, “San Simon”, “Enchanted” and “Colorado”, the 4 caves have been used by the Mayans for centuries for their Fire Cleansing and Protection Ceremony. The highland tribes travel for hours to visit the holy caves, and you will feel the energy and power as soon as you approach the cave entrance.Watch the shamans perform the ceremony (not guaranteed, but available on most days) and experience an authentic part of the living Mayan culture of the Guatemala highlands. Your guide will explain why the ceremonies are performed and teach you about the ritual and unique meanings of the Mayan calendar.Located 1,200 feet above Lake Atitlan, the caves offer panoramic views of the lake and caldera. Stand on top of Eagle Rock and marvel at how the earth drops hundreds of feet around you. Feel your spirit soar like a bird as you stand with nothing but air on all sides.You can also visit the shrine of San Simon/Maximon, the colonial church and a 200 feet waterfall.

$89.99 Day Trips & Excursions

San Pedro Volcano Hiking Tour from Panajachel in Guatemala

Meet your guide at your hotel in Panajachel or at the travel office. If you are not staying in Panjachel, meet your guide at the boat dock in San Pedro. Travel by boat across Lake Atitlan enjoying views of Santa Cruz, Jaibalito, Tzununa, San Marcos, and San Pablo. Upon arriving in San Pedro, travel to the trail-head 1,000 feet above Lake Atitlan's shores. Check in at the visitor center, and start you hike up the 9,900 foot summit. The volcano has an altitude of 3,020 meters or 9,900 feet above sea level, with spectacular views of Lake Atitlan. San Pedro volcano is the most accessible volcano to climb near Lake Atitlan. Created 65,000 years ago, this volcano is geologically very young. It takes approximately 3.5-hours to climb to the top and 2.5-hours to come down.  Upon reaching the summit, enjoy a picnic box lunch (included in the package). Rest and enjoy the views before heading down to the base. Back at the San Pedro village, board the boat for your return ride home.

$73.95 Cultural & Theme Tours

Iximche Mayan Ruin from Panajachel

The late Post-Classic Maya ruins of Iximché was ruled by the Kaqchikel from the 12 - 15th century. Located in the municipal district of Tecpán, this archaeological site was the ancient capital of the Maya Kakchiquel Indians and Guatemala’s first capital “The Kingdom of Goathemala.” These well preserved ruins, located on a promontory in the higher and cooler Sierra mountains, surrounded by steep slopes and pine trees. The spectacular scenery is worth the visit alone.The architecture of the site included a number of pyramid-temples, palaces and two Mesoamerican ball-courts. At the time of the Spanish conquest Iximche, was the second most important city in the Guatemalan Highlands, after the K'iche' capital at Q'umarkaj. Conquistador Pedro de Alvarado was initially well received in the city in 1524 and the Kaqchikel Kings provided the Spanish with native allies to assist in the conquest of the other highland Maya kingdoms. Iximche was declared the first capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala in the same year. Due to excessive Spanish demands for tribute the Kaqchikel soon broke the alliance and deserted their capital, which was burned in 1526 by Spanish deserters.Mayan rituals are still performed at this site on important occasions. Chances of witnessing a Fire Ceremony are good.The tour of the ruins usually takes around one-two hours.

$50 Outdoor Activities

Hike Around Lake Atitlan

Hiking at the shore Lake Atitlan is a unique experience.During this hiking tour you can see a lot of good place and amazing views of the three volcanoes. In addition to singular vistas of the lake and the volcanoes, you’ll witness superb views of the villages of Jaibalito, Tzununá and San Marcos.

$44 Outdoor Activities

Quentzaltenango to Chicabal Volcano and Lagoon Full-Day Trek

Journey along the natural paths of the volcano and see over 40-Mayan altars that were used in ceremonial services. Learn about the Mayan calendar and its importance to this ancient culture. Wander down the paths and see the incredible and diverse variety of birds that make their home in the cloudy forests of the volcano and Laguna de Chicabal. The Laguna (lake) was formed in a crater of the volcano and has crystal blue waters. Volcán Chicabal is a well-known tourist destination in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. The volcano has a unique crater lake inside of its summit cone with a surface altitude of 8,898 feet. On clear mornings it is possible to see the major volcanoes of northwestern Guatemala as well as the Pacific coast. The crater rim and volcanic cone are covered in a lush cloud forest, and the lower slopes of the volcano are used for agricultural purposes by the locals. This easy day-hike provides a perfect mix of tranquility, culture, and natural beauty.On this 5-hour tour you will go from the base of the volcano, all the way to the top. There you will find an impressive view onto the lagoon. From the top, the guide will lead you down the stairs to the lagoon itself. Lots of times, locals will be praying when you arrive. You will get to know the 20 altars around the lagoon. After a whole tour around it, you will get up to the crater again, greeting the locals who will be going to the lagoon. After climbing up again, you will go back down to the base.

$55 Outdoor Activities

Kayak and Hike Adventure Tour from Panajachel in Guatemala

Chose from full-day or half-day adventure tour package, both combining kayaking and hiking. Your tour begins in Panajachel where you transfer by boat to the remote village of Santa Cruz La Laguna. The village and lake shore are only accessable by boat, and feels as though you travel back in time to another era. Exit the boat at our exclusive adventure center and gear up to get in the water. Our qualified kayak instructors will size you up for the proper kayak and PFD gear. We have children's single kayaks and large double and triple seater kayaks especially for families. All the guides are experienced kayak teachers, and can show you basic paddling techniques. Once everyone is ready to go, paddle to one of our special cliff jumping areas. We have two areas for swimming and cliff jumping, and we will select the one most appropriate for your family. Either area has short jumps of 2 - 3 feet, and longer jumps up to 30 feet. All jumping areas are in deep landing water that has been tested by our guides. But if you prefer only to paddle, don't worry! We can skip the cliff jumping for you.If you choose the Full Day Tour, continue paddling along the rugged and remote north shore of Lake Atitlan, followed by a hike back through the Mayan villages of San Marcos, Tzununa, and El Jaibalito. You will paddle for about 2-hour along the lake-shore, heading past the Mayan settlements of El Jaibalito and Tzununa en route to San Marcos. Encounter Mayan men fishing from hand-hewn boats known as “cayukas,” just as they have done for centuries. Gaze at the rugged rocks that provide home to exotic plant and bird life. You will even have the opportunity to jump into the crystal clear waters from the cliff tops. Pull into the Bay of San Marcos to gear up for the 2nd part of your adventure. The north shore of Lake Atitlan has no road access, so you will be hiking paths that have been used by the Mayans for centuries. See villagers tending their maize and coffee crops en route.If you choose the Half Day Tour, you will return to our adventure center, followed by a 1-hour hike through the Pumpatin Canyon. This section of Lake Atitlan has barely been touched by the outside world, and from your privileged position several hundred feet above the ever changing waters of Atitlan, enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanoes.