Guatemala Culture

If there is one thing that sets Guatemala apart from other Central American destinations, it has to be the culture. Not reproduced versions of historical traditions…living Mayan culture that represents nearly half of the country’s population. 23 different dialects of the language are spoken here, sometimes changing from one village to the next. Most indigenous women and some men continue to wear traditional dress, each piece exploding in color and significance.

Some remark that Guatemala feels like a place where time has stood still. Vendors scoop ice cream cones to kids in parks, horse-drawn carriages rumble down cobblestone streets, and countless farmers and their families till their land with the same hand tools used for centuries.

In the late 20th century, Guatemala suffered through a long civil war that targeted indigenous peoples, leaving many Mayan communities – especially in rural areas – quite insulated. Yet through all of the trials they faced, Guatemalans – both indigenous and non-indigenous – are known for their warm and welcoming character. Smiles and salutations are exchanged openly and often. Along hiking trails, visitors are both a curiosity and an opportunity to stop for a rest and share a few stories.

We encourage you to experience the culture and the warmth of the people of Guatemala for yourself. In Antigua, take a cultural walking tour. Lake Atitlán offers a number of fascinating cultural destinations: visiting a Mayan shrine and market in Santiago Atitlán, learning about textiles in San Juan la Laguna, cooking a famous dish call “Pepián” in San Pedro, and exploring ceremonial Mayan caves above Panajachel.

If you’re serious about experiencing Guatemala, we suggest you consider the following sample 2-week cultural itinerary.

Sample 2-Week Cultural Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrival/Antigua

    Enjoy your first night relaxing in the beautiful colonial city

  • Day 3: Trek to Terra Camp

    Hike through cloud forest under the shadow of Acatenango Volcano

  • Day 4: Trek to Fuego Camp

    3000 ft descent into the La Vega River valley before a climb to our camp overlooking active Fuego Volcano

  • Day 5: Mayan Immersion Experience

    Take a day off from trekking to experience a day in the life of a local Mayan farmer in one of the rural communities along our Sky Trek route

  • Day 6: Trek to Agua Camp

    We reach the highest point of the trek today with views of six volcanos before arriving to camp overlooking Lake Atitlán

  • Day 7: Mayan Immersion Experience

    We’ll take another day off from trekking to spend time with a local women’s textile cooperative to learn more about their ancient weaving traditions

  • Day 8: Trek to Lake Atitlan

    Descend through coffee fincas before arriving to our final destination, Lake Atitlán, and its welcoming waters

  • Day 10: San Pedro La Laguna Gastronomy Tour

    Visit San Pedro La Laguna where your Mayan host will guide you through the maze of the local market, buying ingredients to prepare Guatemala’s famous “Pepián” dish, which you’ll prepare together

  • Day 11: Santiago Atitlán Tour

    Visit one of Guatemala’s most mysterious attractions, a shrine to the deity “Maximón”

  • Day 12: Return to Antigua

    Depart the lake and return to Antigua for an afternoon of museums, cafés and relaxation

  • Day 13: Spa Day

    Time to treat yourself to one of a variety of massages – relaxing, Shiatsu, healing rocks – offered by Healing Hands Therapy-Spa.

  • Day 1: Arrival / Antigua
  • Day 2: Antigua Cultural Walking Tour / Antigua
  • Day 3: Trek / Terra Camp
  • Day 4: Trek / Fuego Camp
  • Day 5: Mayan Immersion Experience
  • Day 6: Trek / Agua Camp
  • Day 7: Mayan Immersion Experience
  • Day 8: Trek / Lake Atitlán
  • Day 9: Relax / Lake Atitlán
  • Day 10: San Pedro La Laguna Gastronomy Tour / Lake Atitlán
  • Day 11: Santiago Atitlán Tour / Lake Atitlán
  • Day 12: Return to Antigua
  • Day 13:Spa / Antigua
  • Day 14: Departure